By Steven R.Maher
In December 2005 the Worcester Telegram & Gazette reported allegations by unsuccessful District 2 City Council Candidate Candice Mero Carlson that long time political operative Paul Giorgio had committed voter fraud. Giorgio was accused of committing the fraud by voting in a section of city where he didn’t live. Giorgio denied committing fraud but upon being contacted by the Worcester Telegram & Gazette for comment, immediately went to City Hall and changed his voting address to the location where he actually lives. Giorgio is a member of the Worcester Housing Authority.
Craig J. Manseau, executive director of Worcester’s Election Commission, told the Worcester Telegram & Gazette that Giorgio could be in violation of the law because he never changed his voter registration to his new home when he moved out of the district about ten years ago. “He shouldn’t be voting in District 2,” the Telegram & Gazette quoted Manseau as saying in a December 6, 2005 story. Giorgio now lives on the city’s West Side, 11 Monadnock Road.
In a telephone interview Giorgio denied any wrongdoing. “There is no voter fraud,” said Giorgio, who claimed comments by the Secretary of State’s office supported this contention.
A fixture on the political scene for 30 years, Giorgio, is also involved in a lawsuit alleging sexual misconduct. In a 2003 civil suit Marcos Arroyo claims that Giorgio twice had sex with Arroyo in 1986 when Arroyo was under the age of 16. Giorgio has denied Arroyo’s allegations and said the case will soon be dismissed. According to the electronic docket file, the case is still pending.
InCity Times takes a closer look one of Worcester’s more controversial politicos.
It’s a Worcester story that begins in the 1970s when Giorgio teamed up with Gerard D’Amico, Paul M. Pezzella, and Louis DiNatale. D’Amico was the main candidate, Giorgio and Pezzella the key operatives, and DiNatale the self-described brains of the operation. The group had high ambitions. One city politician later sarcastically told Worcester Magazine in 1986, “Those guys stay up all night, getting wired on black coffee and plotting to take over North America.” Worcester Magazine was then owned by Dan Kaplan; after 1992 it was owned by Allen Fletcher and, in small part, by Giorgio. Fletcher, who still owns the paper, has printed three paragraphs about the allegations of sexual misconduct by his one time business partner (see page 9).
War of the Stickers
D’Amico, Giorgio and their associates started out with a numeric
disadvantage: their base was in the Shrewsbury Street Italian community. In the 1970s the Worcester business community consisted mostly of White Anglo Saxon Protestants who in the main took their direction from Robert W. Stoddard, a major shareholder in the Worcester Telegram & Gazette and Wyman-Gordon industrial complex. Worcester’s political community was dominated by Irish Catholics, who in the main took their direction from City Manager Francis J. McGrath.
The Italian community along Shrewsbury Street was geographically concentrated and capable of being organized politically. It was a vibrant and cultured community. It was insufficient only in numbers to be the dominant political voting bloc in a city wide election. In 1974 D’Amico ran for Congressman and was defeated by Joseph D. Early. What D’Amico needed was an election in which Shrewsbury Street would be the controlling voting block.
That opportunity came in 1976 in what then- Worcester Magazine columnist Kenneth J. Moynihan (he left the magazine during Fletcher’s tenure and now writes a column for the local daily) dubbed the “War of the Stickers”. State Senator John J. Conte resigned his position to accept an appointment as Worcester County District Attorney. It was too late for D’Amico to get his name on the ballot for the Democratic primary, so he ran on stickers.
D’Amico won the election by 3,000 votes due to a grass roots campaign “with computer print outs, huge phone banks, [and] door to door canvassing.”
Pezzella credited DiNatale for D’Amico’s victory. “I learned a lot from Lou- he bought sophistication. No one had bought that kind of sophistication to Worcester as we did in that campaign,” Pezzella later told Kaplan’s Worcester Magazine.
The “War of the Stickers” was to have a lasting impact on Giorgio and his associates, and not an entirely beneficial one. If organizational skill was the group’s forte, their greatest flaw was the belief that their tactical prowess in organizing phone banks, computer databases, and voter drives would overcome all other strategic, demographic, financial and ethnic factors.
The group was so sure of their formula that they tried to market it. In 1981 Giorgio, Pezzella, DiNatale, and two other partners started Beacon Research Associates, a for profit corporation offering services to political campaigns. In a nutshell, Beacon Associates hired out as a campaign command structure which could be grafted on to the top of a political organization, an executive capable of issuing detailed instructions to campaign workers and organizing a grass roots get out the vote campaign of computer databases and telephone banks.
Where’s the beef?
After working as a field organizer in Senator Edward M. Kennedy’s unsuccessful 1980 Presidential campaign, in 1982 Giorgio was asked to escort Colorado Senator Gary Hart around Boston. By this time Giorgio had developed some skill as a political advance man – the technocrat who manages campaign rallies, making sure the meeting halls have enough chairs, the audio system works, and that events come off as planned. It’s basic political nuts and bolts work, as essential as it is unglamorous. When Hart ran for President in 1984, he tapped Giorgio as national trip director.
In what reads like a script from the TV show “The West Wing”, Hart made a credible showing in the 1984 Iowa caucuses and then went on to win an upset victory in the New Hampshire primary. “Hart had no inkling he was going to win,” wrote Worcester Telegram & Gazette columnist Tim Connelly fifteen years later.
“He was planning on heading over to the campaign headquarters much later in the evening to put the best spin on his loss. So when the media hordes arrived at Hart headquarters, there was no one there save for Worcester’s own Paul Giorgio, who was working as an advance man for Hart. After a quick call to the campaign managers Giorgio faced the television cameras and declared victory for Hart.” It must have been a heady moment for the young Giorgio, seeing himself on network television at the center of a campaign that seemed to be skyrocketing to the White House.
Hart had portrayed himself as the candidate of new ideas. Vice President Walter J. Mondale challenged this, parodying a popular TV commercial of the day, by asking Hart, “Where’s the beef?” It was a question repeated three years later, amidst much laughter, when Hart found himself embroiled in a sex scandal.
Hart’s campaign made a credible showing in the primaries but was ultimately unsuccessful. When Mondale was defeated in President Ronald W. Reagan, Hart became the presumptive front runner for the 1988 Presidential campaign. Meanwhile, Giorgio came back to Worcester to take part in an intricate plan involving running Pezzella for Sheriff, with the ultimate goal of making D’Amico the Governor of Massachusetts.
In 1984 Lieutenant Governor John F. Kerry was elected to the United States Senate. In 1986 an election would be held to fill the vacant Lieutenant Governorship and it would be a perfect opportunity for D’Amico. But D’Amico lacked a Worcester county political machine from which to launch a statewide campaign. His faction sought to remedy that be replacing Worcester County Sheriff Ted Herman with Pezzella.
“This was my idea, running Paul Pezzella for Sheriff and Gerry [D’Amico] for Lieutenant Governor, as a way out of where we were, which was no where,”
DiNatale said in a 1986 Worcester Magazine interview.
It was an ingenious plan. From Ted Herman to Guy Glodis, the highly politicized sheriff’s department work force with its hundreds of employees has been an effective patronage machine. If Pezzella had been elected, Giorgio’s faction would have been able to honeycomb every town and city in Worcester County with department employees, part time reserve deputies, and process servers, all of whom could be expected to labor in campaigns of Pezzella’s choosing. Pezzella would be able to build strong ties with local municipal leaders through inmate civic action work programs, cement his connections to area businessmen, and network into other counties through sheriff department associations. Led by seasoned operatives like DiNatale and Giorgio, organized with state of the art computer technology, it would have been an awesome grass roots political force capable of delivering an overwhelming Worcester County vote for D’Amico, and then fanning out across Massachusetts to campaign for D’Amico.
First, there was incumbent Ted Herman to deal with.
Herman had the great advantage of being an incumbent in an office little understood by the average voter. A scandal was needed to jar voters out of their complacency. What followed was a nasty campaign with strong ethnic overtones.
On September 5, 1984 Worcester Magazine published an expose by Steve Jones-D’Agostino that alleged “Self proclaimed ‘taxpayers’ servant Theodore M. Herman, county sheriff and jail superintendent, takes home free of charge more than $2,500 a year worth of jail food and cleaning items in violation of state law…”
Herman struck back with charges that Pezzella had taken donations from drug dealers. “No matter that Pezzella returned them [the donations] promptly, the associations with the criminal community were raised,” Worcester Magazine reporter Bennie DiNardo wrote in September 1984, shortly after the election. Pezzella told DiNardo: “As Mario Cuomo calls, it’s the politics of hate.” The backlash against Pezzella was the strongest, and on election day he was defeated.
Nonetheless, D’Amico soldiered on in his quest for the Lieutenant Governor’s position in an uphill battle against Evelyn Murphy, the secretary of economic affairs in the Dukakis administration. It was a bold gamble for D’Amico, giving up a safe senate seat. But it was a gamble with an enormous potential payoff.
Then Governor Michael Dukakis was expected to run for President in 1988 and be on the national ticket, either as the nominee or Vice President. If D’Amico has been elected Lieutenant Governor in 1986 and Dukakis was elected to national office in 1988, D’Amico would become Governor of Massachusetts.
“The person who’s in (the lieutenant governor’s) seat could very well be governor of the state,” D’Amico said in a 1986 interview with Jones-D’Agostino. “The stakes are higher than what people might view (them to be).”
The summit of D’Amico’s career took place in May 1986 at the Democratic State Convention, when party regulars were called upon to endorse candidates. It was expected that Murphy would receive the convention’s endorsement. D’Amico then gave what Worcester Magazine columnist Kenneth J. Moynihan accurately described as “the most powerful and important speech of his career.”
Standing on the podium, D’Amico seemed less to be giving a speech than singing from his soul. He “roused the convention with cries for compassion and justice for the dispossessed, as his described his career as a crusade for the powerless, staking everything on the claim that it had all been about making room for the people who have been left out.”
The delegates roared their approval at D’Amico’s amazing oratory and in an astounding upset, a majority voted for D’Amico. Sitting in the audience, Moynihan saw Pezzella burst into tears as D’Amico brought his parents to the platform to accept the nomination. “I just saw the last 14 years of my life pass before my eyes,” Pezzella told Moynihan.
For D’Amico, Pezzella, and Giorgio May 1986 was a unique moment in time, a golden moment in their lives when they seemed on the verge of fulfilling both their hopes and their aspirations. After the convention the Worcester Telegram & Gazette and local Democrats closed ranks behind D’Amico. But while D’Amico had won over Worcester party regulars, around Worcester County some political activists rallied to Murphy. On election day D’Amico made a credible showing with 40% of the vote, but in the end lost out to the better known Murphy.
“We couldn’t do it without Pezzella [winning the sheriff’s race],” DiNatale said in the October 15, 1986 issue of Worcester Magazine. “There wasn’t a big enough base to lift us, Gerry won Worcester County by 6,000 votes, it wasn’t enough.”
But Giorgio ended 1986 with high hopes. Hart was a leading contender for the Presidency in 1988 and D’Amico for Lieutenant Governor in 1990. And then Giorgio’s hopes turned to ashes as Hart, D’Amico, and Pezzella self destructed.
The first to go was Hart. In 1987 Hart announced he was seeking the White House for a second time and was quickly leading in the polls. Questions were raised about womanizing by Hart, who foolishly challenged the media to follow him. Giorgio soon found himself on the scene of what, until Monica Lewinsky, was to be the greatest bimbo eruption in modern American history.
The Miami Herald monitored Hart spending a night with an attractive model named Donna Rice. On June 2, 1987, the National Enquirer published a photograph of a scantily clad Rice sitting in the married Hart’s lap. It turned out the two had gone for a cruise on the incredibly named “U.S.S.
Monkey Business”. Suddenly “where’s the beef” became a metaphor for something other than missing ideas, and a punch line for late night comedians. The Hart campaign sank like the Titanic amid loud guffaws.
Next was D’Amico, who headed up the Commonwealth Literacy Corps after his unsuccessful 1986 campaign. In 1989 he announced his candidacy for Lieutenant Governor. D’Amico had a state car with untraceable plates. It leaked out that D’Amico had run up 22 unpaid parking tickets worth $1,300 while parking the car outside his political consultant’s office. As the May 6, 1989 Worcester Telegram & Gazette put it: “D’Amico, the head of a state agency that teaches adults to read, has suddenly found himself the target of editorial writers who wonder if he knows what a ‘No Parking’ sign says.”
D’Amico admitted stupidity and carelessness, resigned his state job, and amidst much ridicule withdrew from the Lieutenant Governor’s race. D’Amico then displayed his entrepreneurial skills, or lack thereof. Worcester Telegram & Gazette columnist Paul Della Valle, in a April 14, 1991 story entitled “Hot dog wars pits Christians and politicos,” reported D’Amico and former Shrewsbury Selectman Joseph A. Ricca owned a red railway car outside Spags named the “Chicken Caboose,” from which they planned to sell hot dogs to patrons of Spags. D’Amico, the man who once dreamed of overseeing a multi-billion dollar state budget as Governor, was reduced to pedaling hot dogs.
In the meantime Pezzella had gotten a job as Deputy Chief of Staff to Governor Michael S. Dukakis. In 1989 Pezzella began lobbying a state appointed member of the Worcester Redevelopment Authority to support a $106-million, 30-story “Centrum Tower” project by developer Angelo Scola. Pezzella also helped Scola when it came to the project’s funding. It turned out that Scola had loaned Pezzella $9,525 around the time Pezzella began lobbying on Scola’s behalf. Amidst much scandal the State Ethics Commission fined Pezzella $5,000, and Pezzella had to resign his post with the Dukakis administration. Pezzella’s political viability evaporated over night.
So it had been a roller-coaster ride for Paul Giorgio, from the “War of the Stickers” to the hot dog wars, from Gary Hart’s sexual peccadilloes to Gerry D’Amico’s parking predicaments, from the U.S.S. Monkey Business to the Chicken Caboose. Now Giorgio would attach his caboose to a train with the bluest of blood: Allen W. Fletcher.
Fletcher was the grandson of Robert Stoddard, the incredibly wealthy industrialist owner of the Worcester Telegram & Gazette. When Stoddard died in 1984 Fletcher returned from a self-imposed exile as a contractor in California in the hopes of taking over the family business. But the Stoddards and other Telegram & Gazette stock holders had other ideas. In 1984 they sold the Worcester Telegram & Gazette to the San Francisco Chronicle. The Worcester Phoenix later reported the sale price was $200 million.
Fletcher reportedly worked at the Worcester Telegram & Gazette from 1984 to 1990, but was clearly frustrated. As his political clientele collapsed, Giorgio found a new partner in Fletcher. On March 1, 1990, Fletcher, Giorgio and Peter Stanton announced to the Worcester Telegram & Gazette the creation of Worcester Publishing Limited with the purchase of the bankrupt Worcester Business Journal.
In 1992 Worcester Publishing Limited acquired Worcester Magazine. It was a great day for Fletcher and Giorgio. It was a sad day for those who cherished Worcester Magazine as the city’s alternative newspaper. Worcester Magazine had been founded in 1976 by the remarkable Dan Kaplan. Kaplan was the ultimate outsider. He was from Cincinnati, Jewish, and arrived in Worcester penniless in 1972 to unsuccessfully pursue a job with the Worcester Telegram & Gazette. In his own newspaper Kaplan later recalled driving a taxi cab to accumulate capital to start Worcester Magazine. His partner Ryck Bird Lent sold tickets at a Webster Square movie theater, reading accounting books on breaks to prepare to be Worcester Magazine’s business manager. “We wanted to run our own newspaper,” Kaplan recalled. “We thought that Worcester was the right size for an alternative newspaper and that the city provided a good market.”
Kaplan’s harsh life struggles served him well in developing a sense of empathy for the politically powerless and the economically disadvantaged. It showed in the incredible newspaper he made out of Worcester Magazine, a vivid compilation of raw talent, investigative reporting, and brilliant writing. It’s hard to recall the excitement and enthusiasm with which the city greeted Worcester Magazine thirty years ago, after the long dark night of Stoddard’s reactionary, Birchite Worcester Telegram & Gazette. It was as if a bright ray of sunlight had penetrated the darkness
Allen Fletcher quickly showed himself to be a true grandson of Robert Stoddard, converting Kaplan’s diamond of an alternative, cutting-edge newspaper into a weekly version of the Worcester Telegram & Gazette. Kaplan’s voice became Fletcher’s echo.
Giorgio assumed the Presidency of Worcester Publishing Limited and joined groups such as the Worcester Chamber of Commerce and the Shrewsbury Street Merchants Association, fertile grounds for a political operative. Giorgio helped organize campaigns and allowed his name to be used in campaign literature endorsing candidates for political office. Giorgio became one of the members of “PEG” – People for Effective Government – a short lived group which sprang out of the strong mayor movement. Giorgio was appointed to the Worcester Housing Authority.
This past election cycle, Giorgio reportedly backed incumbent District 2 City Councilor Philip Palmieri and political newcomer District 1 City Councilor Joff Smith. Giorgio said in an interview that he backed a “number of candidates” in the Worcester City Council election. According to the Worcester Telegram & Gazette, District 2 City Councilor Philip Palmieri received Giorgio’s backing. Smith won his first race and was seen on NECN’s Worcester News Tonight being congratulated by Giorgio at a celebration party at SPQR on election night.
Palmieri’s challenger, Candy Mero Carlson, waged a strong campaign against Palmieri. She only lost by 102 votes. Carlson has claimed voter fraud. The voter fraud brouhaha involves Giorgio voting in Palmieri’s District 2, even though he doesn’t reside there.
Carlson told InCity Times: “It’s important for anybody to make sure the process is fair and legal, and that’s really what my basis of the whole issue was. What are we doing allowing people who don’t live in an area to vote in a district race..That’s why we changed [Worcester’s] charter. So it would be fair..It was broken up in districts so that people had a say in what they wanted..If we do have people doing this then the system is broken. We as citizens have a right to know that the process is free, fair, and legal.”
According to Carlson, District Attorney John Conte has turned over to law enforcement agencies the case for investigation. “The last that I heard that it was turned over to the Worcester police,” Carlson says, “I just hope it’s something that’s not pushed under the carpet.”
After being contacted by the Worcester Telegram & Gazette about Carlson’s allegations, Giorgio changed his voting address to his residential address at 11 Monadnock Road, which is in District 1.
Fletcher may have had the Stoddard journalistic style but he lacked the Stoddard business touch. A Worcester legend holds that during the Great Depression no one was laid off from the Worcester Telegram & Gazette. After the most recent recession hit, the Worcester Telegram & Gazette reported in July 2001 that Fletcher laid off Editor Marc Onigman and two other staff at Worcester Magazine. In November 2004 Worcester Magazine Publisher Walter Henritze was let go along with a production worker. Staff writer Brian Goslow was laid off this winter.
In the November 2004 article reporting Henritze’s layoff, the Worcester Telegram & Gazette reported that Worcester Publishing Limited’s “special projects division was spun off last summer into an independent company called Pagio Inc” which is owned by Giorgio. Pagio publishes a monthly entertainment magazine and other publications.
In October 2004 the Worcester Telegram & Gazette reported Giorgio and DiNatale paid $225,000 for property on Winter Street, “at the tail end of Water Street.” They renovated the building, located in Green Island, and it now contains an office, eateries and condos, including SPQR, “an Italian and dessert bar.” The Worcester Telegram & Gazette reported on Tuesday December 6, 2005, that “Mr. Giorgio noted that his publishing business and Winter Street, S.P.Q.R., are both in District 2, saying he could register to vote using those addresses if he wanted to.”
More monkey business?
Serious are the allegations of sexual misconduct against Giorgio by Marcos Arroyo. In an October 2003 lawsuit filed in Worcester Superior Court Arroyo claims he was sexually abused by Worcester Court case officer George Costello at the Worcester Court House and other incidents. This included parties in which other defendants were alleged to be present. The Worcester Telegram & Gazette reported Costello was indicted on two counts of unnatural rape of a child for his alleged sexual assault on Arroyo. Arroyo filed a lawsuit naming as defendants Costello, Giorgio, Francis A. Cicio, and Macey J. Goldman of Shrewsbury.
The Worcester Telegram & Gazette reported on October 11, 2003: “Mr. Arroyo alleges that other named defendants in the suit, including Francis A. Cicio and Paul J. Giorgio of Worcester and Macey J. Goldman of Shrewsbury, encouraged Mr. Costello to sexually and emotionally abuse Mr. Arroyo and provide him with alcohol and marijuana. Mr. Arroyo charges that all of the defendants, including three identified as Joe Does 1-3, were part of a conspiracy to induce him to continue the sexual relationship with Mr. Costello.” Giorgio denies this.
In his first amended complaint Arroyo alleged: “During the year 1986, while plaintiff was under the age of 16 years, defendant Giorgio on two occasions committed an assault and battery upon plaintiff by performing sexual acts with him. Due to his age at the time of the aforesaid sexual assaults, plaintiff was legally unable to consent to said sexual activity.”
Arroyo claimed that as a result of Giorgio’s abuse he suffered severe psychological damage that “caused him to experience outbursts of anger, prevented him from forming and maintaining relationships with girl friends and family members, contributed to his drug and alcohol abuse, resulted in hospitalizations for psychiatric evaluation and treatment, and led to a life of crime, arrests, and incarceration.”
In an affidavit supporting a motion to stay proceedings pending the outcome of Costello’s criminal trial, Giorgio – in a statement sworn to under oath – wrote: “I did not engage in sexual activity with the plaintiff when he was under the age of sixteen.” On January 18, 2006, asked if he had sex with Arroyo after Arroyo was sixteen, Giorgio said: “No comment.”
When the lawsuit became public October 2003, Giorgio angrily denied all charges by Arroyo in a statement to the Worcester Telegram & Gazette. Fletcher’s Worcester Magazine published a brief statement in which Giorgio was called “one of our own” and would not repeat the allegations against Giorgio. (See page 9.)
Judge John P. Connor Jr. granted Arroyo’s request for a $100,000 attachment against Giorgio, which would preserve his assets to satisfy a judgment. Explaining why the attachment was not higher, Judge Connor wrote: “The likelihood of success is also diluted by a statute of limitations problem, and the credibility of the plaintiff, a 7 time convicted felon.” (See page 9.) If Costello is found not guilty of the criminal charges against Arroyo, the attachment against Giorgio could be lifted.
Giorgio refused to comment much on the specifics of the Arroyo case, except to say: “It will soon be dismissed.” The Arroyo case is still active, according to the electronic docket file.