Mayor Al's Shady Pal

When you're a politician helping out a felon, it's better not to ask questions.

Not long after the sentencing of his former friend, against whom he'd testified in federal court, Frontera had reason to celebrate. Sanzone signed off on a temporary certificate of occupancy for Club Cinema in early 2005. Soon, Cinema booked a number of second- and third-tier acts, including Eddie Money, Pennywise, and Hansen.

Frontera was back in the nightclub business — and Mayor Al Capellini was one of the people he had to thank for it.

Sam Frontera and Alex DeCubas (following image) at one time ran one of the largest cocaine distribution operations in the country.
Sam Frontera and Alex DeCubas (following image) at one time ran one of the largest cocaine distribution operations in the country.

Asked about what he considers the case of his career, Assistant Boca Police Chief Burke doesn't sound entirely satisfied.

"Is Sam Frontera an entrepreneur or just a user?" he asks rhetorically, the hard edge of his voice betraying his own answer.

Burke says he had heard that Frontera had returned to the nightclub business, but he didn't know that the funding was coming from interests linked to Wolf in Chicago, and he certainly didn't know the mayor of Deerfield Beach was involved.

But he says the investigation into Frontera's old drug cartel remains open as agents continue to track down fugitives and drug assets. Burke says he is curious to know whether the money being funneled into Club Cinema dates back to the cocaine cartel heyday.

"I'd be interested in knowing the source of the money," he says.

Burke, who worked on a federal task force targeting DeCubas and Frontera while still a Boca police detective, says he intends to look into the matter — which means the mayor could conceivably become entangled in the investigation.

The mayor's dealings with Frontera offer a stark contrast to the responsible image Capellini tries to convey as mayor of Deerfield Beach, where he serves as the face of the city, handing out proclamations to everyone from community leaders to firefighters.

But there have been rumors for years at City Hall that he's mixed up with the underworld. At a recent meeting, however, Capellini brought it up himself, if in seeming jest. On June 6, when the commission met to suspend City Manager Larry Deetjen for making racist remarks, Capellini defended his friend. Sitting on the dais, he told the crowd gathered at City Hall that being Italian, he was used to ethnic slurs as well.

"There are times, you know, people see me and they say 'You dago' or 'You wop' or 'You're part of the Mafia,'" he said. "Unfortunately, I don't have an Italian organization that can help me fight that. If they did, according to what I've seen on TV, they'd be walking around with prostheses."

The statement was met with suspicion among his many critics in the audience, one of whom later remarked, "That means he's connected."

Only, until now, the people of Deerfield Beach didn't know to what.

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