It is sad to see an era end. Caffé on the Green has been the location for many events, but responding to reports that Caffé's operator, Joseph Franco, is a member of the Gambino crime family, the city Parks Department has announced that it will end its contract with Franco.
Parks officials said the decision was based on the current management's shoddy recordkeeping. An audit by city Comptroller William Thompson concludes that Caffé could not account for $1 million in income and may have cheated the city out of $120,000.
The Caffé's attorney said that most of the $900,000 in allegedly unreported income came from gratuities, which did not need to be reported. That is possible.
The sad thing is that Franco and his staff have done an excellent job since taking over. Caffé has become one of Queens' most popular restaurants and catering halls.
That said, Franco's alleged Mafia connection cannot be ignored. Organized crime learned the value of investing profits from criminal enterprises in legitimate businesses. Often those businesses are excellently run. That does not change the fact that they are built on blood money.
Franco's attorney, Sid Davidoff, denies his client has mob ties. Franco was reportedly identified as a mobster during a 1998 labor tribunal. If there is evidence that he has Gambino ties, the contract should be terminated.