Rosemont’s Rockford connections

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Documents show local firms connected to mob-linked Rosemont

As the Rockford City Council has endorsed pursuing a gambling boat for the city, the Village of Rosemont’s controversial pursuing of a casino license and that village’s mayor has gained attention from Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan. Entities associated with Rosemont Mayor Donald E. Stephens have several commercial links to Rockford.

State documents show two local firms who operate from the same North Alpine Road building were paid between 2000 and 2003 for their accounting and tax services by campaign funds linked to Mayor Stephens and his son Mark Stephens, treasurer for two of three campaign coffers associated with Rosemont’s influential Stephens family—site for Illinois’ last controversial casino license. The accounting firms, Robert Farrell and Associates of Rockford and Chicago-based BDO Seidman, also contributed to Stephens’ campaign funds between 2000 and 2003.

According to state records, the exchange of money between Farrell’s business, BDO and the Stephenses’ campaigns involved 20 transactions totaling $12,495 between 2000 and 2003. The campaign funds concerning the transactions involve all three associated with the Stephens family—the Donald E. Stephens Committeeman Fund, Friends of Mark Stephens and Rosemont Voters League.

Madigan alleged in a March 25 letter to the Illinois Gaming Board that Don Stephens had “two friends…affiliated with organized crime…Nick Boscarino and Joseph Salamone.”

Madigan’s letter also described associates of Boscarino and Salamone, which included “William Daddano Jr., William Daddano III, Lou Daddano and John Daddano” that Madigan alleged “have been involved in organized crime for multiple generations.”

The Donald E. Stephens Committeeman Fund also paid $2,762 between 2000 and 2003 to a series of Loves Park printing companies that operated from the same address.

Nothing illegal has been alleged about the origin of the money, transactions or work that was performed by the printing companies, BDO or Farrell.

However, one name and business linked with two of Farrell’s accounts raises questions that are unanswered because key individuals refuse or could not be reached to comment—namely Farrell, Nick S. Boscarino and Mark Stephens, treasurer of the Donald E. Stephens Committeeman Fund and Rosemont Voters League.

The two accounts linked with Boscarino, for which Farrell listed in court documents as a client, are Rosemont Exposition Services, Inc., and the Donald E. Stephens Committeeman Fund.

Boscarino, 52, of South Barrington, is an alleged organized crime associate and close friend of Mayor Stephens. 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 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 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 Illinois Gaming Committee member 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 was because Capparelli introduced legislation that concerned Rosemont such as “flooding and anything that had to do with state funding,” the mayor said.

Capparelli could not be reached for comment.

Farrell’s clients

Winnebago County court documents show Farrell worked for BDO for 17 years before Farrell’s disputed departure from BDO. Farrell’s last day of work at BDO was Nov. 30, 2002.

When Farrell formed a competing accounting firm in the same North Alpine Road building as BDO shortly after his last day of work, 11 BDO employees went to work for Farrell, and more than 500 clients went with them. The circumstances concerning Farrell’s leaving BDO the subject of a current lawsuit against Farrell (2003 CH 239) and five other former BDO employees, and Farrell’s counter-suit against BDO.

As of March 17, 2003, some of Farrell’s client’s were: the Donald E. Stephens Committeeman Fund that has raised $3,889,007 since 1999; Bradley Stephens, who is the mayor’s son, a Rosemont Village Board member and the Leyden Township supervisor; and Braile Services, Inc., a company operated by Bradley Stephens. Brail Services was paid $351,500 by the Donald E. Stephens Committeeman Fund between 1999 and 2004.

According to an April 5 Chicago Sun-Times article, “Family ties run deep in Rosemont.” Braile Services apparently has just one client, which has nothing to do with serving the blind. The business is responsible for planning “large-scale, political fund-raising events for which Mayor Stephens has become known,” the article reads. Brad Stephens could not be reached for comment.

Other Farrell clients included the Stephens Family Partnership Ltd.; Stephens Hawthorne Partnership; Rosemont Exposition Services, which operates the Donald E. Stephens Convention Center; Christopher Stephens, the mayor’s grandson who is assistant executive director at the convention center; and five other Stephens family members.

Whether Farrell is the exclusive accountant for the accounts listed in the BDO/Farrell lawsuit is not known. Farrell did not respond to messages left at his work and home for comment about this article.

Farrell’s attorney, Thomas E. Greenwald of the Rockford law firm of Oliver, Close, Worden, Winkler and Greenwald, did not return a message for comment. The law firm is also listed as one of Farrell’s clients.

Mayor Stephens said he didn’t know Farrell and said a Chicago accounting firm handles his account.

State Sen. Dave Syverson (R-34, Rockford) said Farrell was his “friend.” Syverson added that he and Farrell had “similar clients,” but they did not include the Stephens family. Syverson has worked in the insurance industry for the past 22 years with Market Insurance Group. Syverson said none of Market Insurance’s clients are in the city, county or state.

During two searches for the BDO/Farrell lawsuit on May 19 and 25 in the Winnebago County courthouse, two of the case’s five files were missing. Several court staff searched for the missing files on both dates but could not locate files numbered two and three.

BDO and the IRS

According to a July 23, 2003, Illinois Seventh Circuit, U.S. Court of Appeals document, “In September 2000, the IRS received information suggesting BDO was promoting potentially abusive tax shelters without complying with the registration and listing requirements for organizers.” As a result, the Justice Department issued summonses to obtain information from BDO.

The IRS sought client names because BDO was allegedly suspected of marketing potentially abusive tax schemes since 1995. The IRS defines abusive tax schemes as a way for parties to evade paying taxes through the use of trusts and various domestic and foreign companies and accounts.

BDO is one of several large accounting firms that have been investigated during the past two years for allegedly marketing potentially abusive tax shelters. BDO’s Chicago and Rockford offices are subsidiaries of BDO International, which is headquartered in Brussels, Belgium.

When BDO refused to comply with the summonses, the Justice Department filed suit against BDO on July 9, 2002, which the Justice Department won in October of that year.

BDO notified its clients it intended to comply with the court’s order to turn over names.

However, unidentified clients filed emergency motions in November 2002 to stop the order on the grounds
of confidentiality. The unidentified clients’ motion was denied last September by the appeals court.

Jerry Walsh, spokesman for BDO, said current litigation that began in 2002 involving BDO and the IRS has “no connection” to any of Farrell’s clients, which includes the Stephens family accounts. Walsh added that BDO stopped doing work for the Stephens family in 2002, the same year Farrell left BDO. Walsh said BDO couldn’t comment further because of pending litigation.

Blain Rethmeier, spokesman for the U.S. Department of Justice, said he could not confirm or deny whether an investigation of Farrell or BDO’s clients exists.

Triton Community College

Mayor Stephens denied having ties to organized crime. He referred questions about campaign funds used for tax and accounting services to his son, Mark Stephens, who did not return messages left at his business, Bomark Cleaning Service Corporation. Boscarino was an officer and shareholder of Bomark, according to the U.S. Justice Department.

Mark Stephens is also an attorney, who has been board chairman of Triton Community College since November 1992. As far back as 1984, Triton has been accused of awarding contracts to companies with alleged ties to organized crime.

The Chicago Tribune reported Feb. 18, 1990, that “in July 1988, D & P Construction of Chicago was given a $4,600 no-bid contract to grade the college’s soccer field. …The company is owned by John DiFronzo, a top-ranking Chicago organized crime figure, and his brother Peter,” the article reads. The article details other incidents when the college did business with alleged organized crime figures.

The Chicago Tribune also reported Dec. 2, 1984, a grand jury investigated whether federal funds were involved in contracts that were allegedly awarded to companies with ties to organized crime. At time of publication, whether indictments or convictions resulted from the investigation is not known.

Triton officials did not respond by time of publication to questions whether the college has awarded contracts to companies that are affiliated with organized crime since Mark Stephens was named Triton board chairman.

Publishing companies

The Donald E. Stephens Committeeman Fund also paid for printing services to a series of companies that operated between 2000 and 2003 from the same Loves Park address at 5251 Zenith Pkwy.

The payments were $589 in May 2000 to Custom Publications, Inc.; $375 to Game Day in October 2000; $310 in November 2000 to Custom Publications, Inc.; $589 to Custom Publications, Inc., in May 2001; $559 to American Publishing Group in May 2002; and $310 to APC Programs in July 2003.

State records show American Publishing Corporation was formed Feb. 11, 2002, and dissolved on July 1, 2003. Custom Publications, Inc., was formed June 25, 1996, and dissolved Nov. 1, 2002. Both companies were operated by Dennis B. McKinney of Roscoe. McKinney could not be reached for comment.

Ann T. Dempsey was listed as Custom Publications’ agent. Dempsey is a lawyer for Oliver, Close, Worden, Winkler and Greenwald. Dempsey is also a trustee on Rock Valley Community College’s board.

Dempsey did not respond to a message by time of publication.

The current owner of the printing company said he just purchased the business in late March or early April.

A partner in Dempsey’s firm, Thomas E. Greenwald, filed the 2000 federal jail overcrowding lawsuit that was cited by many public officials as the reason voters needed to pass a 16 percent increase in the county sales tax.

Co-counsel on the jail lawsuit, John F. Heckinger Jr., negotiated a 60-day suspension of his law license in March after he was accused of using his clients’ funds “for his own business or personal purposes,” according to a complaint filed with the Illinois Attorney Registration and Disciplinary Commission.

Boscarino convicted

Boscarino was convicted in February on federal charges of money laundering and insurance fraud that bilked Rosemont of $288,670 in insurance premiums from 1990 to 2000, 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, 63, of Inverness. Aulenta operated the insurance brokerage, and pleaded guilty to the charges in January before the trial began, in hopes of a lighter sentence.

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

Boscarino’s sentencing date is June 30, Aulenta’s July 7, and Mangurten’s July 14.

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 bilked out of the money from 1991 to 1996, according to the Chicago Tribune.

Rosemont settled the case for $1.3 million last November.

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