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The Miniacis And The Mafiosi


You can read about the Katherine Harris-Bill Nelson debate here and here, but it wasn't much to see. Nelson was, as always, predictable and plodding, the political equivalent of the old crab scuttling on the bottom of the sea. Harris, as the Sun-Sentinel noted, didn't embarrass herself, really, she just comes across as a joke.

I thought the setting of the debate was the most interesting thing about it. They sparred in the Miniaci Auditorium at Nova Southeastern University. It's a room named for one of Broward County's finest families, the Miniacis. Alfred Miniaci, the late patriarch, came to South Florida from the Bronx nearly four decades ago to ply his trade in the vending machine business. His sons, Albert and Dominick, continue the fine tradition with their company, Paramount Vending.

They're good upstanding folk who give back to the community, so never mind that the family has been mobbed up for years, starting back in New York. Forget that Dominick and Albert were in business with Johnny "Sideburns" Cerella, a Genovese crime family soldier and

convicted extortionist who is best known for placing a $300,000 contract on the life of federal judge Norman Roettger after he was sentenced to 16 years in prison. The price taxpayers paid for around-the-clock protection for the judge was estimated at $4 million.

Dominick, an attorney, has had especially extensive involvement with La Cosa Nostra figures in South Florida. In addition to Sideburns, he's worked with the late Gambino capo Ettore Zappi, a colorful mobster who controlled organized crime in Broward County for years, and the sons of famed Gambino former Godfather Paul Castellano -- you know, the guy who was killed outside that steak restaurant by John Gotti's crew. The Castellano boys, Paul and Joe, own the Big Louie's Pizza chain down here. Dominick Miniaci also worked with Bobby Rubino, the mob bag man who helped start those rib restaurants, and the Galgano brothers. Most recently, Paramount Vending was tied up in the case with convicted union boss Walter Browne, though no charges were filed against the company's owners.

Basically, if you follow the Miniacis, you run into a Who's Who of thugs, lowlifes, and organized crime figures. In that sense, the family is like a living history of a very integral part of South Florida. No wonder Albert was recently inducted into the Entrepreneur Hall of Fame at the Nova Southeastern University 's H. Wayne Huizenga School of Business and Entrepreneurship and the family was honored with an auditorium at NSU in their name.

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Journalist Bob Norman has been raking the muck of South Florida for the past 25 years. His work has led to criminal cases against corrupt politicians, the ouster of bad judges from the bench, and has garnered dozens of state, regional, and national awards.
Contact: Bob Norman

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