<<Home Niagara Falls Reporter Archive>>

Business Criminal Fronts Are Growing Problem, Says Fruscione

By Mike Hudson

Back around the turn of the 20th Century, when Irish politicians and policemen ruled the roost in Niagara Falls, various

laws were passed and enforced against keeping what were known as “disorderly houses,” places where gambling, liquor, prostitutes and other vices were easily available.

Primarily, these disreputable establishments were located in the growing East Side Italian neighborhoods, where recent immigrants lived and the “Moustache Petes” who would one day become organized as La Cosa Nostra attempted to gain a foothold.

As time went on and organized crime came to control the city under Stefano Magaddino, the old laws were forgotten. Actually there was no need for them. The disorderly houses of yesterday were now owned and operated by the city’s leading citizens.

Ironically, the decline of organized crime, starting with Magaddino’s death in 1974 and continuing to the present day, has given rise to an unorganized criminal element, one that also makes use of businesses and private homes as fronts for illegal activity.

And City Councilman Sam Fruscione thinks it’s high time to put an end to it.

He’s proposed an ordinance that would zero in on troublesome behavior around business establishments such as loitering, littering, noise, public drinking, drug use and sale, lewdness and so on. If necessary, and depending upon how many and how serious the violations are, the offending business could be closed.

“These activities have been on the increase,” Fruscione told the Reporter. “The council members have been receiving numerous complaints in this regard, and we’re going to work to make this ordinance law at our May 28 meeting.”

The ordinance would be part of a two-pronged approach, with an increased and highly visible police presence also part of the equation.

“Earlier this year the council provided additional funds to our police department in order to expand patrols in the tourism corridor and put walking patrols in various areas of the city. I’m sure you’ve noticed police officers walking Pine Avenue and other main streets including some streets in our LaSalle neighborhood,” Fruscione said. “Undercover and unmarked police work moves ahead as usual, but we will also continue to put officers in plain sight because it deters crime and provides a real sense of security for our residents.”

This isn’t the first city ordinance the council has written or modified in order to address what must be described as undesirable activity in the city’s business districts. Last year two city ordinances were amended in order to deal with the proliferation of pawnshops and secondhand dealers in Niagara Falls.

Pawnshops and similar businesses suddenly locating throughout the business districts of any city aren’t considered a good sign, and council members considered the increase of these businesses in Niagara Falls as a clear indicator of our struggling local economy. In response, some thoughtful ordinance modification was carried out, making it harder to open such businesses.

Fruscione said that his recent proposal to catalogue buildings in need of demolition here and fund a comprehensive program to tear them down is simply another aspect of improving the quality of life in the city.



Niagara Falls Reporter - Publisher Frank Parlato Jr. www.niagarafallsreporter.com

May 21, 2013