Is Sam Fruscione a silent partner in One Niagara?
Detailing the history of One Niagara will prove to be this author’s greatest undertaking since he completed his dissertation on Basket Weaving in graduate school, many eons ago. With the complexity of this business, and the fact that I do not want to lose my audience, I will provide only the Cliff’s Notes version (or Spark Notes for our 30 and under crowd):
One Niagara is possibly the most valuable piece of real estate in the City of Niagara Falls. It was once owned by Niagara Falls Reporter’s publisher and low-income housing scam artist Frank Parlato. Parlato utilized this property as a parking lot and a trashy bazaar. No wonder he fell behind on his property taxes, at times owing the City, County and School District around One Million Dollars. Under Parlato’s ownership, the building was condemned multiple times too. It is even rumored that Parlato was living in the building.
Fast forward, Parlato “sells” the building to a group of investors. The investor’s group is led by Attorney Paul Grenga. The list of investors is kept secret, yet it is believed that Parlato still owns the lion’s share of the company. Needless to say, the “sale” of the company was more of an attempt to give One Niagara a “cleaner” and “saner” image with Grenga as a spokesman, instead of straightjacket bound Parlato.
During this time, the City of Niagara Falls brought foreclosure proceedings against One Niagara for the almost One Million Dollars in property taxes that One Niagara owes the City. Even this couldn’t be a simple affair! At
least two other entities joined the action stating that they were equity owners of One Niagara and that the current leadership under Grenga was not recognized. Apparently, like the many people who bought houses under Parlato’s low-income housing schemes, some more investors were rudely awaken! Who would have thought Parlato would rip them off? (See the Seagram’s heir scandal in which Parlato allegedly conned the family out of One Million Dollars…apparently, he didn’t use this money to pay his property taxes). This case, after about two years, is still pending in State Supreme Court.
The Link: Parlato’s newspaper, the Niagara Falls Reporter, survives based on the gratuitous investment from Roger Trevino and Niagara Falls Redevelopment. It is even been reported that Trevino ghost writes articles
for the paper. Trevino is also very politically active. His political allies include none other than Gary Parenti and Steve Pigeon. For years, even Parenti’s protégé, Council chairman Sam Fruscione was given a pass from the Niagara Falls Reporter for all of his indiscretions. Never once did that paper write a negative article about Fruscione (except once, and he was warned ahead of time). But then again, why would it? Fruscione was protected by Parenti. Fruscione relies on Parenti for advice on issues. And when the Niagara Falls Reporter decides, almost every week, to write a negative article about Mayor Paul Dyster, it is Sam Fruscione who is always available with a quote and negative comment.
So clearly, Parlato, Parenti, Pigeon, Trevino and Fruscione are in the figurative bed together.
That is also the reason why Fruscione does not openly call for One Niagara to pay its real estate taxes. While the rest of Niagara’s residents and businesses are struggling to make ends meet and to pay their taxes, One Niagara is given a free pass from the Council Chairman. Is this a repayment for the free pass he has been given at the hands of the Reporter? Or is it something deeper: maybe Sam Fruscione scrounged up enough cash to become an investment partner in One Niagara? Either way, Fruscione’s choice to ignore this huge problem, in the face of a looming City bankruptcy, is improper and unethical.