Colombo soldier donated to Brooklyn Democrats
Reputed mobster behind Brooklyn’s Plaza Auto Mall, John Rosatti, has been handing out campaign donations to local Democrats — including the borough’s district attorney and its party boss, as first reported by the New York Post.
John Rosatti’s Plaza Motors of Brooklyn donated $2,020 to DA Eric Gonzalez for his winning 2017 campaign. The next year, Rosatti gave $2,000 to Assemblywoman Rodneyse Bichotte, who succeeded longtime leader Frank Seddio as head of the Brooklyn Democratic Party in January 2020.
The following month, Plaza donated another $10,000 to the party, records show.
Pols “should be vetting contributions in order to make sure that there’s no attempt to influence them,” stated John Kaehny of the good-government group “Reinvent Albany.”
“What did this guy expect for his contribution — that’s the question the campaigns should ask themselves,” he explained.
Before amassing a reported $400 million fortune, Rosatti, 77, was identified by the New Jersey Division of Gaming Enforcement as an alleged soldier in the Colombo crime family, according to a 1993 decision by the state’s Casino Control Commission.
The ruling, which rejected a bid to bar Rosatti pal and reputed Colombo family member John Staluppi from the state’s casinos, cited testimony that confidential informants claimed Rosatti became a Colombo associate in 1980 and was sworn in as a “made member” in 1994.
In the mid-1970s, Rosatti was convicted for attempted auto theft and again in 1994 on a federal charge of being a felon in possession of a firearm, for which he got probation and a $5,000 fine, the Village Voice reported in 1998.
FBI documents asserted that he pledged $50,000 to the insurgent mafia faction led by Victor “Little Vic” Orena during the long, bloody war for control of the Colombo family. Orena reportedly refused to provide vehicles so hit teams could search for supporters of the late boss Carmine “The Snake” Persico, the Voice said.
Rosatti also allegedly gave a no-show job to Orena’s son, also named Victor, with a gangster reportedly telling the younger Orena, “You’re the only salesman that never sells any cars and makes money.”
In recent years, Rosatti has made headlines by founding the BurgerFi fast-food franchise operation and for owning a series of superyachts.
One — a 162-foot, four-deck behemoth — is named the “Remember When,” which is also the title of a 2007 episode of The Sopranos and several cast members attended a party on board when Rosatti docked it at Battery Park City’s North Cove Marina for the 2011 Fourth of July celebration.
Rosatti now lives in Florida, where records show he owns a six-bedroom waterfront mansion with a swimming pool and a private dock in West Palm Beach that’s on the market for $9.5 million.
His local New York political contributions are among more than $250,000 in total that Rosatti has given out since 1985 at both the national and state levels, with most of the money given to Republicans last year, records show.
Plaza Auto Mall lawyer David Grandeau said, “Mr. Rosatti states that he is not now nor has he ever been a soldier of the Colombo crime family.”
“He made a political donation because he has business interests in Brooklyn, specifically Plaza Auto Mall, and he has donated to candidates of both the Republican and Democratic Parties, in and outside of Brooklyn,” added Grandeau, the former executive director of the Temporary State Commission on Lobbying.
The Gonzalez campaign said, “DA Gonzalez does not know Mr. Rosatti and has never received a personal contribution from him. However, four years ago there was a contribution from a car dealership affiliated with him.”
A spokesman for Bichotte and the Brooklyn Democratic Party said she was grieving the death of her mother and couldn’t be reached.