SPRINGFIELD -- The top aide to former mayor Michael Albano was charged yesterday along with two other men with trading on City Hall connections to do favors for family and friends, and failing to pay $250,000 in taxes.
The indictment of Anthony Ardolino, Albano's chief of staff from 1996 to 2001, pushed the federal government's ongoing public corruption probe to the highest levels of Springfield's government.
His brother, Chester Ardolino, a former city police officer convicted last spring in a real estate scam, also was charged in the indictment unsealed yesterday, along with Matt Campagnari, a business associate of the Ardolinos.
The Ardolinos each pleaded not guilty to charges of tax fraud and conspiracy, and face a maximum sentence of two years and eight months in prison. They were released on $10,000 unsecured bond following their afternoon arraignment in US District Court.
Campagnari, the former owner of four Springfield bars, also pleaded not guilty to tax fraud and conspiracy, along with charges he threatened three witnesses in the investigation. Prosecutors say he threatened one with a gun and wanted him held pending his trial.
But US Magistrate Judge Kenneth Neiman released Campagnari on a $30,000 unsecured bond. He faces up to four years and three months in prison if convicted.
According to the charges, the Ardolino brothers had a 20 percent stake in two of Campagnari's bars, but their names were kept off the books because of their public roles. The three men are charged with skimming money from the bars and paying themselves and their employees under the table.
In all, they hid about $725,000 in income and wages from the Internal Revenue Service from 1999 to 2002, prosecutors said, resulting in a $250,000 loss in tax revenue to the federal government.
The indictment also charged Anthony Ardolino with using his position to influence a city council vote that gave $62,000 to Campagnari for a development project he was working on.
Anthony and Chester Ardolino also allegedly fixed $14,000 worth of parking tickets for themselves, their friends, and family.
Anthony Ardolino's lawyer, Vincent Bongiorni, declined to comment.