MCA Official Given Leave of Absence as FBI Probes Mob Tie
Eugene F. Giaquinto, president of MCA Inc.’s home video division, was placed on a leave of absence Thursday after news reports that the FBI suspects him of funneling company money to a reputed East Coast Mafia boss.
A terse announcement by MCA’s president and chief operating officer, Sidney Jay Sheinberg, said that Giaquinto, 47, “has been placed on a leave of absence and relieved of all MCA responsibilities, pending further investigation.”
Neither Giaquinto nor his lawyer, Richard P. Crane Jr., a former chief of the Justice Department’s Organized Crime Strike Force in Los Angeles, could be reached for comment.
The MCA announcement did not say why Giaquinto is under investigation by the company. Neither Sheinberg nor any other executive of the entertainment company would elaborate on the announcement.
The company’s statement came a day after news reports, based on government affidavits unsealed in San Francisco federal court, gave details of FBI wiretaps, including one last year on Giaquinto’s Beverly Hills residence.
The affidavits painted a picture of Giaquinto contacts with a reputed boss of a Pennsylvania crime family, Edward M. (The Conductor) Sciandra, to whom MCA cash was allegedly being passed on an annual basis; with the reputed boss of the Gambino crime family of New York, John Gotti, and with a number of other individuals believed by the FBI to be connected to organized crime across the country.
Additionally, in the summer of 1987, when takeover rumors sent MCA’s stock soaring, FBI affidavits allege that Giaquinto “furnished” information to individuals outside the company about the health status of MCA’s then-hospitalized chairman, Lew R. Wasserman, and “the status of takeover attempts of MCA . . . in advance of public disclosures in the media.”
The FBI affidavits said such dissemination is “a possible violation” of federal criminal laws on insider stock trading.
An informed source said Thursday that the Securities and Exchange Commission has not yet had an opportunity to examine the FBI affidavits but intends to do so.
MCA’s general counsel, Robert D. Hadl, said Giaquinto, president of MCA’s Home Entertainment Group, would continue to draw his salary during his leave of absence.
Hadl said Giaquinto--but no other employee--is being investigated by the company. He also said MCA itself was not a target of the FBI investigation.
MCA attorney Ronald L. Olson said Giaquinto was informed of his leave of absence in “a very simple communication” and that an internal audit committee of the Universal City-based firm would investigate the FBI allegations.
According to a 79-page affidavit by FBI agent Thomas G. Gates, Giaquinto maintained a separate telephone number at his Beverly Hills apartment under the name Charles Hairston, which Gates said was an alias.
Among the individuals Giaquinto frequently called, according to the wiretaps, was self-styled labor negotiator Martin Bacow of Los Angeles, who is seeking to make a movie on the life of the late mobster Meyer Lansky.
The conversations with Bacow indicated to the FBI that a power struggle was going on among different Mafia families across the country to muscle in on the Lansky film’s potential profits.
In an interview earlier this year, Bacow displayed a $3-million contract from Giaquinto’s division for home video rights to the Lansky film. But MCA’s lawyer, Olson, has denied that MCA signed any final contract with Bacow for the Lansky project.
Bacow is suspected in the FBI affidavits of extortion in the form of “threatening strikes” against movie and television production companies in exchange for “money or other things of value.”
Bacow branded the accusation “the most ridiculous thing in the world.”
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