There are five New York City based organized crime families that are famous in the news, literature, and movies and TV. They long ago divided up the city into geographical areas where each had exclusivity though joint ventures were not unknown. These are the Gambino, Genovese, Bonanno, Lucchese, and Colombo families.

Besides the usual rackets of gambling, booze and prostitution they’ve long dabbled in rigging bidding contracts so they, or firms controlled by them, would garner public contracts for such enterprises as garbage hauling or cargo handling on the docks.

But there’s another family operating from the Big Apple whose tentacles reach everywhere with no defined territory but which steals huge sums from municipalities and states and public authorities. Like the Mafia it often has politicians in its pocket to assure compliance with its dirty schemes. Though not known for violence, it has financially assaulted the wallets of most Americans.

Its methods in some ways were initially developed by its early progenitors, copied and perfected by the Mafia, then honed to a fine faretheewell by this family’s current generation.

This crime family is Wall Street. The bankers and financial brokers have been in cahoots for years to rig bids for public projects. These actions have bankrupted Jefferson County, Alabama and increased financing costs for entities such as the Port Authority of Allegheny County, Pennsylvania.

These bonds are issued to help governments build schools and bridges and transportation systems and stadiums and arenas. The bonds are issued by the government entity and then sold, ideally to bring the best interest return on the funds not immediately spent.

But the big banks on Wall Street and the financial arms of other companies who broker these deals worked out methods so that the final interest the bonds  earned would be rigged so that the return would be lower instead of simply being what the market would bear.

In short, monopolistic non-competitive practices trumped true free enterprise.

Matt Taibbi tracks these crimes through the recent trials in NYC which resulted in the conviction of three of the players.

Taibbi explains how these processes worked far better than I could. But just like Mafia figures speaking in code when fearing their phones were tapped these brazen thieves adopted their own language for their dealings…in this case when they knew for CERTAIN their conversations were being monitored.

The codes covered the methods they used to pay each other off for the bid rigging and even how politicians or public officials were to be bought off.

Former N.M. Governor Bill Richardson is specifically accused of accepting such a bribe, though the $25,000 was paid to his PAC. A Philadelphia official got  Super Bowl tickets/limo package worth $10,000 and steered business to the cheating brokers that netted them several hundred thousand. Talk about high rate of return!

It appears now that those who were calling the Occupy Wall Street protesters all manner of filthy names should redirect their epithets to the very people these critics were defending as pure and good.


Each of these crooked deals may not have netted huge returns stolen from the pockets of taxpayers. But I had a law professor who loved to say “A small profit, frequently taken…”. And while we’re  not talking huge returns on each deal it’s still in the millions conglomerating into many billions overall.

The same people defending Wall Street blast the “welfare scum” for getting $150 a month in undeserved food stamps. Such petty thievery  would never be acceptable in the Wall Street family.

The Godfather was a popular book about Don Vito Corleone and its film version is considered to be a classic.

I wonder what the title will be of the story of Don JP Morgan.

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