Reputed Mob associate bought local restaurant, land

StoryImage( ‘/Images/Story//Auto-img-112127367730920.jpg’, ‘photo by Jeff Havens’, ‘Reputed Mob associate Nick S. Boscarino purchased the former Cannova's Restaurant and two other Winnebago County properties since April 2004. Inset: Enlarged image of lease sign in lower left corner of main photo.’);
StoryImage( ‘/Images/Story//Auto-img-112169557022430.jpg’, ‘Photo courtesy of the Associated Press’, ‘Nick S. Boscarino’);

Convicted Rosemont insurance scammer Nick S. Boscarino purchased Cannova’s restaurant and two other local properties since April 2004

If the new owner of a once popular local eatery planned to personally operate the former Cannova’s restaurant, which closed for business in January, he will have to wait until he is released from federal prison sometime within the next three years.

Reputed Mob associate and millionaire Nick S. Boscarino, 52, of South Barrington was sentenced in May to three years in federal prison for bilking the Village of Rosemont of $288,670 between 1990 and 1996 in an insurance broker scam, according to a May 19 article in the Chicago Sun-Times.

He was convicted in February 2004 on federal tax fraud and money laundering charges.

Boscarino was also a witness at a recent Illinois Gaming Board hearing concerning the dormant Emerald Casino license, which was controversially relocated to the Village of Rosemont. However, he refused to testify June 7 when he invoked his Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination.

Land deals

Boscarino purchased the Loves Park restaurant and adjacent property at 200-204 E. Riverside Blvd., on March 15 for $150,000 from Peter Cannova and Michael Cannova.

The restaurant is being offered for lease on behalf of Boscarino by Dickerson and Nieman Realtors Inc. Leasing Agent for Dickerson and Nieman, Tracy Eastman, said Boscarino bought the property after learning it was for sale from a sign posted in front of the establishment.

But the restaurant near the Rock River wasn’t the only Loves Park property Boscarino purchased. He also bought 2.79 acres of vacant commercial and residential land in April 2004 near the intersection of Clinton and Windsor roads for $150,000 from AMCORE blind trust 79-7247.

In October 2004, Boscarino also acquired 6.32 acres of vacant farmland in unincorporated Winnebago County about 1,400 feet south of the intersection of Perryville and Harlem roads. County records indicate Boscarino paid $180,000 for the land to another blind trust numbered 2700282 from the Chicago Title Land Trust Company.

Efforts to contact Boscarino for comment through his attorneys Patrick A. Tuite and Patrick J. Cotter were unsuccessful. According to the federal Bureau of Prisons’ Web site, Boscarino has not been assigned to a specific federal prison.

Michael Cannova said he didn’t know Boscarino before the sale.

“He seemed like a nice guy and real laid back. … I met him originally when he checked out the restaurant, and I met him again at the closing, and that’s it. I didn’t know anything more than that about him,” Cannova said.

Cannova added he wasn’t exactly sure how Boscarino learned the property was for sale. “I think he was interested in anything on Riverside Boulevard,” Cannova said.

Casino license

Boscarino was called to testify at a June 7 Illinois Gaming Board hearing concerning Rosemont’s dormant Emerald Casino license. However, according to a June 8 article in the Daily Southtown, “Boscarino, his wife, Sherri, and his mother were all called to testify during the hearing, but refused, invoking their Fifth Amendment rights against self-incrimination.”

According to the Daily Southtown article, the Gaming Board alleged Boscarino had an interest in the Emerald Casino license through a trust named after Sherri Boscarino. Winnebago County land documents indicate Sherri Boscarino is also named as a successor trustee to the former Cannova’s restaurant property.

Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan alleged in a March 25, 2004, letter to the Gaming Board that Rosemont Mayor Donald E. Stephens had “two friends … affiliated with organized crime … Nick Boscarino and Joseph Salamone.”

According to a June 30 article in the Chicago Tribune, the Gaming Board retroactively reinstated the casino license June 29 for four years dating back to 1999. The Gaming Board’s decision effectively means the casino license is inactive, and owners will likely have to reapply for a new license.

Insurance scam

Boscarino was convicted in February 2004 on federal charges of money laundering and insurance fraud that bilked Rosemont of $288,670 in insurance premiums from 1990 to 1996, which concerned undisclosed insurance fees that were paid by the Village of Rosemont.

The scheme involved insurance premiums that were purchased from insurance broker American Business Insurance Agency of Illinois Inc., which later became Acordia of Illinois Inc., in 1995.

The scheme laundered funds through various banks and brokerage accounts controlled by Boscarino and Ralph E. Aulenta, 64, of Inverness. Aulenta operated the insurance brokerage, and pled guilty to federal charges in January 2004 before Boscarino’s trial began, in hopes of a lighter sentence.

Irving B. Mangurten, 53, a certified public accountant and co-conspirator in the scheme, pled guilty to perjury in March 2004 for his testimony during the trial.

In a separate lawsuit filed in 2001, Rosemont accused Acordia and Aulenta of overcharging the village nearly $1 million in hidden fees related to insurance the village purchased from American Business Insurance and Acordia. The suit said the village was swindled out of the money from 1991 to 1996, according to a Nov. 16, 2003, Chicago Tribune article.

Rosemont settled the case for $1.3 million in November 2003.

Similar case

The insurance scam for which Boscarino was convicted involved hidden broker fees that were not disclosed to Rosemont officials.

In a similar case involving Winnebago County’s former insurance broker, Winnebago County State’s Attorney Paul Logli refused to release findings of his office’s investigation into alleged undisclosed broker fees. Last year, Logli assigned First Deputy State’s Attorney Chuck Prorok to head an investigation to discover whether Bruce Hagshenas, president of Benefit Planning Services Inc., received undisclosed insurance broker fees from the County.

However, during Prorok’s 2000 failed bid for judge in the 17th Judicial Circuit, Prorok was the recipient of a $1,000 campaign contribution from Hagshenas. Prorok and Logli didn’t view the investigation and campaign contribution as a conflict of interest.

Logli cited an ongoing defamation lawsuit involving Winnebago County Board member Patti Thayer (R-9) and Hagshenas as the reason the findings would not be released.

Rosemont connections revisited

The Rock River Times described the Rockford area’s connection to Boscarino, Stephens and Rosemont in the May 25, 2004, article “Rosemont’s Rockford connections.” The article described local accountant Robert Farrell’s political contributions to Stephens, and accounting and tax services Farrell provided to campaign funds linked to Mayor Stephens and his son Mark Stephens between 2000 and 2003.

The two accounts linked with Boscarino, for which Farrell listed in Winnebago County court documents as clients, were Rosemont Exposition Services Inc., and the Donald E. Stephens Committeeman Fund.

Boscarino personally contributed $35,000 to the Donald E. Stephens Committeeman Fund totaling four transactions between 1999 and 2003. One of Boscarino’s businesses, O.G. Services Corp., a forklift company, also contributed another $1,400 to Mayor Stephens’ campaign in two transactions between 1999 and 2000.

Mayor Stephens was co-owner of O.G. Services with Boscarino.

The Chicago Sun-Times reported May 9, 2004, that Boscarino was also the Teamsters’ union steward at Rosemont’s convention center, for which Farrell did the accounting as of March 2003.

O.G. Services was also the sole provider of forklifts for Rosemont’s convention center and Chicago’s McCormick Place.

Farrell and Mayor Stephens personally contributed large amounts of money to former Illinois Gaming Committee member and former State Rep. Ralph Capparelli (D-15, Chicago).

O.G. Services contributed $5,000 to Capparelli in 1998, Farrell contributed $1,000 in 1995, and Mayor Stephens and his wife, Katherine, contributed $89,125 from 1995 to 2001.

Mayor Stephens explained the reason he contributed to Capparelli’s campaign wa

s because Capparelli introduced legislation that concerned Rosemont such as “flooding and anything that had to do with state funding.”

From the July 13-19, 2005, issue

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