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Glen Rock businessman with reputed mob ties charged in $5 million real estate scam

Photo Credit: Cliffview Pilot File Photo

YOU READ IT HERE FIRST: Federal agents this morning arrested a Glen Rock man with reputed mob ties and a disbarred attorney from Westchester who they said conned 15 victims out of $5 million by pretending to broker deals on a pizzeria in the Bahamas, a casino in Atlantic City and the “flipping” of a chunk of real estate in Matawan, among other bogus ventures that drained some people’s life savings.

Paul Mancuso, 46, and 52-year-old Pasquale “Pat” Stiso of West Harrison, N.Y., were up to their necks in hock with bookies — including a $500,000 debt that Macuso still hasn’t paid, U.S. Attorney Paul J. Fishman said this afternoon.

Mancuso has ties to reputed Genovese captain Joseph “The Eagle” Gatto of Paterson, who died in April 2010.

Authorities said Mancuso participated in a gambling ring headed by Gatto that took $300,000 a week in illegal wagers from tens of thousands of customers nationwide.

Gatto’s father and brother, legendary North Jersey Genovese gangster Louis “Streaky” Gatto and Louis Gatto Jr., both died while serving federal prison sentences.

Mancuso also was associated with Frank Legano of Tenafly, 71, who was shot dead in April 2007 outside a Middlesex diner he co-owned, in a gangland-style hit that has yet to be solved.

A source connected to the case said authorities seized $269,000 from Lagano’s home and deposit box after he was arrested as part of what was billed as one of the largest gambling busts in state history, dubbed “Operation Jersey Boys.”

Stiso was released on bail following an initial appearances in U.S. District Court this afternoon on charges of conspiracy to commit wire fraud. Mancuso was ordered detained until a bail hearing could be held tomorrow.

Beginning in 2009, Mancuso held himself out as a real estate investor, broker, and/or developer, as well as a “hard money” lender and broker of other various purported investments, according to a complaint on file in federal court.

Federal agents say he conned “substantial investments for various projects that, in fact, either did not exist at all, or in which [he] had no actual involvement.”

Stiso, meanwhile, “held himself out as an individual who was working with Mancuso on various purported projects,” the complaint says.

Authorities have indicated that others were involved in the alleged schemes — though they haven’t said how many and to what degree they may be cooperating with the investigation that led to this morning’s arrests.

“Most, if not all, of Mancuso’s victims lost all or substantially all of the money they invested with him and his co-conspirators,” the complaint says. “Many of Mancuso’s victims have lost all or substantially all of their life savings in his various schemes to defraud.”

Fishman credited special agents of the FBI, the IRS, and investigators in his office with making the case, presented by Assistant U.S. Attorney Lisa M. Colone of the U.S. Attorney’s Office Criminal Division in Newark.

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