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Galante Pleads Guilty in Federal Court
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James Galante, center, after his guilty plea: Photo by Cloe Poisson of the Hartford CourantJames Galante, center, after his guilty plea: Photo by Cloe Poisson of the Hartford CourantA Connecticut businessman has pleaded guilty to racketeering and conspiracy, part of huge investigation into mob influence in the region’s trash business.

James Galante controlled 25 companies that handled garbage pickup for thousands of residents and businesses in southwestern CT and eastern New York. He was indicted in 2006 for his role in a scheme to drive up trash removal rates. In US District Court in New Haven, Galante pleaded guilty to racketeering conspiracy, wire fraud conspiracy and tax fraud.

"This is probably the most significant organized crime guilty plea in at least a decade or more in CT."

Jeffrey Meyer is an assistant law professor at Quinnipiac University in Hamden. He says along with pleading guilty to 3 federal felonies and a possible 6 or 7 year prison term, Galante will forfeit his business holdings worth more than $100 million.

"In a way you could look at this case and say Crime does pay. At least it pays in this case for the interests of the gov’t in terms of being able not only secure lengthy prison term but also to secure what must be a near record in terms of the size of the forfeiture."

Galante admitted that he tried to fix a bid for the operation of a CT transfer station. He also admitted defrauding the United Hockey League, when he was owner of a minor league team called the Danbury Trashers. He circumvented the hockey league’s salary cap by putting star players and their spouses on the payroll for his trash companies, even though they did no work.

Acting US District Attorney Nora Dannehy:  Photo by Libby ConnActing US District Attorney Nora Dannehy: Photo by Libby ConnActing US District Attorney Nora Dannehy spoke to reporters outside the courthouse .

"The government is satisfied with this guilty plea and beyond that will reserve its right to address other questions at the time of sentencing."

28 others were indicted in the case, including a reputed mob boss known as Matty the Horse, and former Waterbury mayor Joseph Santopietro. Most have pleaded guilty. James Galante will be sentenced in August.