Frank Antico cheated on his wife – prosecutors insist he kept a mistress for years and also bedded a prostitute and at least one topless dancer he met on his city job.
But the now-retired city inspector never extorted money from topless bars or check cashers he regulated, his attorney told a jury yesterday at the opening of Antico’s racketeering trial in federal court.”This man. . .is not an angel,” defense attorney Brian McMonagle told the jury, acknowledging Antico had been “unfaithful to his wife” and would answer to her for that.
But Antico “is not a thief. . .and an extortionist, and the evidence in this case will demonstrate that,” McMonagle added.
With Antico’s wife, Alberta, in court to show support for her allegedly philandering husband, the defense attorney quickly confronted undisputed evidence that for years Antico kept a mistress, who gave him two sons.
Assistant U.S. Attorneys Amy L. Kurland and Richard P. Barrett contend Antico cheated the city out of honest services by giving his mistress, Elizabeth Ricciardi, favorable treatment, partly at taxpayers expense.
Antico set up Ricciardi in business as one who could expedite city services by cutting through the bureaucratic red tape.
For a fee, she helped private clients who needed zoning permits or licenses to do business in Philadelphia.
But Antico, longtime supervisor for the Department of License and Inspections – by many accounts the man who ran L&I’s day-to-day operations by 1993 – did much of the paperwork for her. And ultimately, it was Antico who approved many city permits and licenses for Ricciardi’s clients.
The mistress grossed more than $700,000 over a 10-year period ending in 1996, a decade when Antico didn’t have to pay court-ordered financial support of their two children, prosecutors say.
McMonagle contends nothing unlawful happened.
Everyone at L&I knew Ricciardi was the mother of two of Antico’s children, the defense attorney insisted.
When concerns about the appearance of a conflict of interest were raised in late 1992, Antico was moved to another post where he didn’t approve those types of permits any longer.
McMonagle told the jury that Antico got his mistress, a key prosecution witness, off welfare, gave her a profession, hid it from no one at L&I, and did nothing “inappropriate” in granting permits to her clients, McMonagle said.
The defense attorney also tried to deal with another woman in Antico’s life, another key prosecution witness, one with a possible motive for revenge.
Maureen McCausland is an admitted prostitute who got wealthy while running Center City whorehouses disguised as modeling studios.
Prosecutors say she will testify that she paid off Antico with cash and free sex with her and in exchange Antico tipped her to raids and kept L&I from shutting her businesses down.
McMonagle contended that McCausland’s a liar who hopes to avoid a prison sentence for admitted tax evasion by framing Antico on extortion charges.
Years ago Antico had testified in court that McCausland’s prostitution business “might spread disease,” McMonagle told the jury.
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