A Tale of Three Brothers
For years, Sue sold people on the concept that she was intimately
connected with mobsters, the CIA and the FBI. Later, while researching
an article for the Village Voice, she would add the Russian Mafia to
Although later, she would sing Rob Hardin's praising in admiring his
high IQ and bemoaning how hers did not compete with her, Sue nearly
constantly told people how she was being recruited by the FBI because of
her remarkably high IQ.
Yet for all her fantasies and her wandering through the underworld, Sue
did not come close to making significant connections with men of power
until she arrived in Nutley, and began to uncover the remarkable story
of three brothers and their quest to build an empire built on sewage,
trash collection and water resources.
Frank, Carmine and Carl all grew up in the same part of town where Sue
settled in 1990, the sons of a woman who sold fruit from a roadside
stand along Washington Avenue at a time when New Jersey was still
considered a truly garden state. All three brothers seemed driven by the
need to make themselves important after years of being looked down upon
by those in the better side of town.
Of the three, Carl was the most successful, and the most respected, a
man who made few enemies, yet as a commissioner on several water
authorities and eventually a state senator, managed to reshape the
future of the Meadowlands area, guaranteeing development and housing for
nearly two decades.
I met Carl briefly during my short term as a stringer for the Paterson
News. He was a professional man, someone who built empires out of
knowing and talking with people, not just in New Jersey, but in
Washington DC But in every aspect, he proved an admirable political
animal, one who outshone bother his brothers, Frank and Carmine, though
in many cases, gave credit to both of them.
Before his death in the 1980s, Carl became a mover and shaker in the
Republican party, but one who kept out of the limelight, not because he
had anything to hide, but because he believed he could best shape policy
out of the glare of media attention.
In many respects, he was everything new immigrants could aspire, too, a
picture perfect image of the modern businessman. Even his opponents
admit his abilities, and were wary of him in a way they are not wary of
either of his brothers, though Carmine struggled hardest to achieve a
similar distinct. But Carmine, despite attaining an equally impressive
tract record as money man for the National Republican Party, lacked the
remarkable integrity Carl had.
I'm not sure how many of his brother's shortcomings Carl knew about, or
overlooked, or maybe helped to hide. Did Carl sanction Carmine's boat
ride picnic to which no women were invited? Did he approve of the nearly
constant social agenda Frank kept among pretty young women?
Carl and Frank served on the Wanaque Water Board during the mid 1980s,
which formed the foundation of the family's state-wide power base, just
as Carmine would later influence other inter-municipal groups such as
the Suburban Essex Joint Insurance Fund during the 1990s. While Carl
guided the other commissioners through the ins and outs of the water
industry, Frank Pontificated, often leading commissioners into
self-congratulatory hours-long rap sessions, while Carl dealt with the
professionals, formulated resolutions, negotiated contracts. Frank, in
fact, talked and talked and talked, while Carl talked very little --
except to congratulate his brother and the other commissioners for their
doing what he told them to do.
All three brothers apparently shared the belief, that if they were
careful, they could corn the Northern New Jersey market for trash,
sewage and water. While Frank ranted about grand schemes, Carl
communicated with various state agencies, made important connections
with groups such as the Hackensack Meadowlands Development Commission,
and slow shaped their empire. He was intelligent and calculating, took
each step with great care, nevtrash, sewage and water. While Frank
ranted about grand schemes, Carl communicated with various state
agencies, made important connections with groups such as the Hackensack
Meadowlands Development Commission, and slow shaped their empire. He was
intelligent and calculating, took each step with great care, never
making his moves look too obvious, never taking on more than he was sure
he could do. He preached to his brothers about the benefits of
complicated systems, water boards, sewage authorities, maybe even joint
insurance groups, each of which had more than one input of cash. He
developed or involved himself in joint
In many respects, Carmine learned the lesson better than his brother,
and like Carl, reached beyond the boundaries of the state. Unlike Carl,
Carmine envisioned power for its own sake, not so much for the benefit
of the people. For years, Carl held Carmine's ambitions in check, but
did not hamper Carmine's networking. Like Carl, Carmine avoided the
limelight, doing his elder brother one better by holding no elected
office at all. While Carmine developed important federal connections ---
especially in the Republican party, he appeared on no ballot, and his
power base remained nearly invisible to the public eye.
For a time after Carl's unfortunate death from cancer, Carmine's
supporters and opponents thought he would take on a more visible
national role, either as a major fund-raiser for the Republican party or
as an elective official. This, however, ran counter to his basis nature.
Unlike his brother Frank , Carmine had no need to public accolades.
While he was recognized by many in the Republican party as an
influential man and an important source of financing, he had to come
back to New Jersey and settle for a quieter role here, partly to keep
taps on his rather reckless and exuberant brother, Frank, who had
learned little from Carl's patient lessons on self control.
Oddly enough, it wasn't Carmine but Frank who had the CIA connection,
one that nearly confirmed every myth Sue ever created, and would have
fed into her paranoia had she known. In fact, Frank built himself a very
powerful media empire out of Nutley itself, setting up television
studios that broadcast around the nation via Time Warner cable TV. Frank
also managed to incorporate other, odder aspects to his information
empire, from a private detective agency for the more usual kinds of
investigation to a school of psychics who would seek information through
other-than-normal means. If fact, after Sue's vanishing, Frank would
make use of this school to help confirm that Sue was dead -- despite
contradictory testimony from nationally-know psychic Dorothy Allison,
and eye witnesses who saw Sue wandering the streets of Newark.
Sue met Frank through his role as publisher of the Nutley Sun, and
inadvertently stumbled into the middle of CIA connections she only
dreamed about in college. Because Frank's best friend for years was one
of the most notorious directors in the history of the Central
Intelligence Agency, William Casey.
Casey is a conspiracy theorists dream, a figure so tied into arms sales,
drug shipments, secret negotiations as well as political assassinations,
that anyone associated with him is immediately suspect, and the closer
the person the more likely is the involvement with illegal and immoral
activities. Under Casey's reign, secret arms were sold to the contras
from a money deal with Iran. This funded by Cocaine deals -- the drugs
of which eventually won up on the streets of the United States.
Just how much Frank knew of these dealings is anyone's guess. But if Sue
knew of the friendship, she would have believed the worst, little
realizing how incompetent Frank was to pull off such schemes. While s
worst, little realizing how incompetent Frank was to pull off such
schemes. While some evidence exists to connect Frank with some local tax
schemes, his information empire lacked a firm enough-base t
While, Carmine did build his empire, setting himself and his brother up
with seats on various commissions, from the Passaic Valley Water or
Sewage Authority to shadow positions on Hackensack Meadowlands
Development Commission-- both of which oversaw vast amounts of cash and
controlled vast amounts of future development -- Carmine grew in
importance as a money man for the Republican party, someone the national
organization could count on to come up with capital in a pinch. In many
ways, Carmine was more powerful than governors or senators, and his
lowly posts very much disguised the kind of power he possessed.
The only man who felt strong enough to speak out against these brothers,
was the former Mayor of Paterson, and state senator, Frank X. Graves,
who would call up reporters from my paper and others the moment he
suspected these brothers of a power play. While Graves respected Carl,
he told me once he thought the other brothers posed a serious danger for
residents of New Jersey. non-elected powerbrokers who could shape
people's lives without voters having a voice, controlling sewage, water,
trash and even how land around places like the Meadowlands get
developed. Graves disliked and distrusted these brothers and his open
opposition often created difficulties for the revival of Paterson --
since they had power to thwart Graves initiatives in Trenton.
After Carl's death, the two brothers seemed to fall into their
respective niches, lacking the formal authority to keep them in check.
Carmine, now the brains of the family, realized his ambition, moving
from the sleazy southside of town, over the tracks, into a posh upscale
side. Yet for all this, and all the titles Carmine bestowed on his
brother, Frank remained an embarrassment.
In fact, Frank was the stereotypical Italian, full of the flash and
vigor of successful old world, and a style many immigrants seek
deliberately seek to shed once they've become Americanized. Yet many of
the elder immigrants loved Frank, mistaking this sense of style for
talent, mistaking his love of decoration for substance. Frank collected
awards and titles like a kid collecting Halloween candy. He was
boisterous, and outspoken, living his life on blood oaths and family
ties, emphasizing the old school of loyalty straight out of the movie
"The Godfather." He was ostentatious, from pinkie rings to public
demonstrations of his rage, and every very fond of pretty women,
flirting constantly and making a point of getting himself as close to
the prettiest woman in a room, scoping out the opposite sex as if he had
built in radar. One old acquaintance said Frank would sniff out a pretty
woman in a football stadium full of men. At meetings, Frank would often
stare down at women reporter's shirts when speaking, and made no effort
to hide his attraction.
"If Sue worked for him," one reporter said. "He would have gravitated
towards her, and he's just the kind of man Sue loves to play up to."
But more importantly, Sue would have seen in Frank, everything she had
seen in Rob Hardin and the other egotistical men she had admired and
used over the years. She would have batted her eyes, smiled up, and
praised all those aspects of self Frank himself thought admirable. Where
as Sue sang the sirens song of talent and high IQ to Hardin, with Frank,
she would have crooned and cooed and made herself constantly available,
just one more step on a new ladder to success.
Sue would later come to regret these connections because they largely
proved false leads. No one in Nutley was interested in helping her get
on with her life. Nobody cared helping her get on with her life. Nobody
cared about some foolish little bimbo dancer except as a convenient stop
over between after work and home. But later, in July 1996, when Sue
vanished mysteriously, amid speculations that the Russian Mafia and mob
figures were stalking her, many of those people she connected with her,
grew nervous. Many saw her tales of stalking (some of which went back as
far as high school) a
These Nutley connections would not sit still and let anyone take Sue's
vanishing seriously. So when she disappeared, these connections tried to
ignore Sue, and when the media refused to allow Sue to vanish without
some form of investigation, these connections then moved to discredit
Sue, making sure the area's newspapers made her out as a deluded slut.
And when this also failed, someone connected to his little circus, may
even have wished Sue dead.
But then, no one really asked why Sue would want to vanish in the first
place, and that part of her story didn't happen only in Nutley, but in
the newsroom of several New York City weekly newspapers: Screw Magazine
and the Village Voice.
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