The Miniacis and the Mafiosi

Investigators are discovering a number of links between beach developers Albert and Dominick Miniaci and Broward underworld figures

Bobby Rubino -- another former Dominick Miniaci business associate -- himself is long gone from the restaurant chain bearing his name. The endeavor began in Broward County in the late '70s and now includes 12 restaurants, most in South Florida, but also with franchises in California, New Mexico, Pittsburgh, Singapore, and Jakarta. According to Nigro, Rubino's first general manager, Rubino was never really in charge anyway --he was only a front man for the Mob.

Nigro told federal prosecutors in 1996 that it was a man named Ettore Zappi, Frank and Anthony Galgano's grandfather, whom he called "boss" at the first Bobby Rubino's restaurant, located in Margate. Nigro eventually went on to manage the Bobby Rubino's restaurant in West Palm Beach.

Zappi was a colorful old man who liked to dance it up at ritzy nightclubs. He was also identified by the FBI, the MIU, and Mafia turncoat Salvatore "Sammy the Bull" Gravano as a capo in the Gambino crime family. His onetime attorney: Ira Marcus.

Nigro testified that Rubino introduced him to Zappi. Soon Nigro was driving Zappi around and having coffee with him at Hidden Harbor Marina in Pompano Beach. It was Zappi who told him what to do with the cash in the register at Bobby Rubino's, Nigro told prosecutors.

Zappi's instructions: "After lunch, close down the register and take all that money and put it in a different envelope. Guest checks also."

Nigro said he would put the cash and guest checks, which amounted to up to $500 a day, aside until the end of the week. Then he'd hand-deliver it all to Zappi. After Zappi's death in 1986 at the age of 83, Nigro starting giving the money to Natale Richichi, another geriatric gangster, who federal prosecutors allege took over Gambino family interests in South Florida.

Nigro's testimony was used against Richichi in a federal racketeering conviction in 1996. Richichi is now in prison. Nigro also testified that he picked up cash for the Gambino family from one of strip-club king Michael Peter's establishments, which helped lead to Peter's pleading guilty to lesser charges of mail fraud. The dual convictions make Pasquale Nigro, who gained immunity from prosecution with his testimony, one of the most important witnesses against the Mob in Broward County history.

Dominick Miniaci was also a registered agent for a business listing Nigro -- the Mob bagman turned informant -- as an officer.

But the original power behind Bobby Rubino's, Nigro testified, was Zappi, who liked to have coffee at Hidden Harbor. From 1985 to 1993, the marina was owned by his grandson, Frank Galgano. Galgano's partner, Dominick Miniaci, was the marina's registered agent.

While Frank Galgano, age 43, has never been charged with anything, Anthony M. Galgano has. The brother, who was named in a restaurant trade magazine back in 1985 as the "director of operations" for the Bobby Rubino's chain, was arrested by Fort Lauderdale police in 1995. On the booking sheet, his occupation was listed as manager at Bobby Rubino's. He was charged with pulling a nickel-plated .380 semiautomatic handgun on a man after a squabble in the street. He was caught by police on the Strip -- in the parking lot of the Albert Miniaci-owned Mistral restaurant, according to arrest reports, the very site where the Grand Hilton is slated to be built. The ironic setting of his arrest is, as far as is known, only a coincidence.

The case was handed over to the state attorney's office organized-crime division. Galgano's attorney, Fred Haddad, who once represented Michael Peter and currently represents John Cerrella in the MIU case, wrote in court papers that Galgano was "being made to suffer due to his family heritage... not for any history of crime... but solely due to who his grandfather was and certain asserted business relationships."

Anthony Galgano would eventually be sentenced to a year in jail for a crime, but it would be spent in a federal pen. While facing the assault charge, the FBI arrested Galgano in connection to a boat theft ring that stretched from Broward County to Canada. Anthony Galgano is named in federal court documents as a Gambino crime-family associate.

According to published reports, some of the boats were stolen from the Hidden Harbor Marina, which his brother owned at the time and where his grandfather, Ettore Zappi, liked to drink coffee.

While neither the Castellanos nor Frank Galgano returned repeated messages from New Times, Marcus, acting on the Miniacis' behalf, went to bat for them.

"Is there a problem being a blood relative with someone?" he asked, adding later: "Can't someone repent?"

He said he'd read Boss of Bosses and was "unimpressed with any factual evidence [O'Brien and Kurins] used."

Marcus also attacked the credibility of Nigro.
"Anybody can give testimony about anything," he said.
The lawyer Haddad said that "Frank Galgano, particularly, is an upstanding citizen and a man who works very, very, very hard." Haddad, incidentally, also wrote a letter of support last year for the Miniaci family in its pursuit of approval to build the Grand Hilton Hotel.

On January 25, 1997, John Cerrella was talking on the telephone to Vinnie Romano about the anticipated opening of Fever. He talked about the fact that businesses handling the cleaning and parking at the club would have to put up money upfront to get the contract with Fever.

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