Broward News

Loan to Mobbed-Up Hollywood Restaurateur at Issue in Illinois Senate Race

Alexi Giannoulias is the favorite to win the Democratic nomination for Senate in Illinois, but first he'll have to beat back some pesky questions about his time as a chief loan officer at Broadway Bank. Among them: a $12.9 million green light he gave to a South Florida businessman, Michael Giorango, AKA "Jaws."

It was 2004, and Jaws had been recently convicted for involvement in a prostitution ring. That on top of his felony bookkeeping conviction and ties to organized crime made him a rather curious choice for a bank loan. Giorango was part of a group that had bought the Martha's Restaurant space in downtown Hollywood and was looking to develop it. The plan went belly up, and the bank is currently in a suit against Giorango in hopes of recovering that money.

David Hoffman is hoping to use Giannoulias' checkered history as a way of flipping the campaign. For his part, Giannoulias has maintained that he was merely negligent in checking out the background of his lenders, not acting in cahoots with them.

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Thomas Francis