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Subversion By Organized Crime And Other Unscrupulous Elements of the Check Cashing Industry
State of New Jersey Commission of Investigation 1988 Report
PUBLIC HEARING-SECOND DAY (April 27, 1988) – Siegel-Santoro's $1.765 Million Customer

Edwin Siegel was questioned at the hearing about many of the customers who contributed to City Check Cashing's huge dollar volume. His responses, or lack of same, will be noted as testi­mony by or about these particular clients is re­viewed in this summary.

One such client was Joseph Odorisio of Brooklyn, owner from 1982-87 of a relatively small company called Pier Services, a New York corpor­ation that operated in New Jersey. This trucking business had only a handful of employees, mainly drivers, and eight or nine trucks – yet during a 15­month period between January, 1986, and March, 1987, Odorisio cashed more than $1.765 million in checks on behalf of Pier Services at City Check Cashing.

SCI accountants checked Pier Services books and records but could not find any reference to at least one million dollars worth of the checks he cashed at the Siegel-Santoro outlet. The Com­mission's suspicions about his check cashing splurge were further stirred by Odorisio's peculiar pattern of cashing a large receivable at City Check Cashing at the same time he would cash a much smaller check. The origin of the larger checks also remained a mystery, largely because Odorisio in­voked the Fifth Amendment privilege against self­incrimination at the hearing (contrary to his re­sponsiveness during his executive session ap­pearance earlier at the SCI). Whatever the source cf the larger checks Odorisio cashed, the Com­mission has referred all evidence about them to crosecutorial authorities for criminal probes.

Despite Odorisio's refusal to respond, the series of questions put to him by Counsel Hoekje reflected how willing City Check Cashing was to accept any kind of business:

Q. Did the checks that you cashed represent in­come generated during the normal business operations of Pier Services?
A. Same answer.

Q. Did you also cash checks that did not rep­resent income generated during the normal business operations of Pier Services?
A. Same answer.

Q. Mr. Odorisio, the books and records of Pier Services that were provided to the SCI under subpoena do reflect amounts that were actu­ally deposited in your company's bank ac­count. However, at least $1,000,000 of the amount that you cashed at City Check Cashing is not reflected on your company's books and records. Can you explain this?
A. Same answer.

Q. Mr. Odorisio, when you testified before. the Commission in private session on November 4, 1987, didn't you tell us, in explaining the source of checks, that you had "borrowed a lot of money"?
A. Same answer.

Q. How much money did you borrow, Mr. Odorisio?
A. Same answer.

Q. Do you recall your testimony, Mr. Odorisio, on November 4, [1987], that you paid no charges or fees for these loans?
A. Same answer.

Q. Mr. Odorisio, these loans appear to the SCI staff to be unrelated to the operation of the business of Pier Services. Would you agree?
A. Same answer.

Q. Didn't you agree, however, when you testified on November 4, 1987, that these loans were not for the trucking business?
A. Same answer.

Q. Didn't you also testify at that time that you paid most of the bills of your business by check and that the only cash needs that your business had were some payroll and some tips for the drivers when they went down to the piers?
A. Same answer.

Q. Would you agree, Mr. Odorisio, that the million dollars that is absent from the books and records of Pier Services represents neither income received by the business during normal operations nor expenses paid by the business during normal operations?
A. Same answer.

Q. On June 20, 1987, a CTR, Currency Transaction Report, reflected that you cashed a $25,000 check [and,] at the same check casher, a Pier Services' company check for $1,200 payable to cash. Can you explain to us why you conducted a $25,000 transaction and a $1,200 transaction on the same day but in separate transactions?
A. Same answer.

Q. Mr. Odorisio, the SCI staff has found many occasions such as the above where after you cashed a large check you also cashed your own small company check to pay the expenses of your business. Can you explain this?
A. Same answer.

Q. To whom did you give the proceeds of the checks that you cashed that represented loans?
A. Same answer.

Q. Did you give any of the proceeds of the checks that you cashed that represented loans to anyone associated with organized crime or racketeering?
A. Same answer.

Q. Were any of the proceeds of the checks used in any loansharking operations?
A. Same answer.

Q. Were any of the proceeds of the checks that you cashed used for any illegal purpose?
A. Same answer.

Q. Mr. Odorisio, what happened to over $1,000,000 in cash?
A. Same answer.

Odorisio Was Santoro's Client

Counsel Gaal's questioning of Siegel about Odorisio's transactions revealed that Odorisio had previously been a customer of mob-connected Santoro's former check cashing business:

Q. Mr. Siegel, prior to our advising you of this when you testified in December, were you aware of the fact that while Odorisio was cashing the $1,765,000 worth of receivables, he was also bouncing many of his own checks at City Check Cashing?
A. I wasn't aware of that.

Q. Were you aware that Mr. Odorisio was a customer of Robert Santoro's at his unlicensed businesses before you hired him?
A. No, I wasn't.

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