The Elephant in the Room

Northampton in the Eighties

I became ensnared in the whole Heritage Bank failure back in 1988, when I was running for city council and these developers from Revere, the Rostoff brothers,  were trying to get the permits  and funding they needed to build a big 6 story addition to the  Hotel Northampton. It was obvious to a few of us that they were crooks and they wanted millions in federal and state money for a huge development that they had very little of their own money in.   But they had Mayor Musante and his city council eating out of the palm of their hand.  They were buying up one property after another, and I said to myself, can a bunch of crooks out of Rhode Island and Revere buy a town?   It was then that my out-of town trips started. Curiosity kills cats and it will put a strain on marriages.  Where are you going, my long-suffering wife would ask, oh Revere. I would say. Oh, the Federal archives in Waltham, oh New Hampshire, oh the bad side of Springfield. A friend, a local architect, aided and abetted things by encouraging me to  look into where all the money was going that Heritage Bank had given the Rostoffs.   He had designed the whole new face on the front of the hotel, and he still has a model of the building in his offices. They stopped paying him for his services, and he wondered where all the millions had gone that Heritage Bank had given them?  The answer seems to be that the Rostoffs were gamblers: They bet  it  on another development on Lake Winnipesaukee, and lost it all. 


Part One:  High Hopes


A look into the past, the boondoggles and manias in our history- the explosive growth of Heritage Bank under Dick Covell.  Organized crime in Northampton, electing a bookie as Mayor for four terms, our Capo  and Italian chef Felix Tranghese, the three "Pugs" , and how the first attempt to rebuild the Hotel Northampton ends in disaster.  



Part Two: The Bank Positions Itself


The "Big Picture" guy comes on board, "cold calls" training, the warning signs in 1982 of the bank getting out of control, appraising turns into a racket. The Cummington Farms adventure.  Pat Goggins helps Mike Smith out.




 Part Three, The Cocaine Years.


Northampton people are making fabulous money on real estate, Don Todrin and the "American Dream", Mike Sissman builds and sells, the plotters have breakfast together at the Clarion, trouble at the airport



Late in the game and everyone was gasping for air in accounting, Manny Duarte and his mysterious checkbooks, Danny Constance meets Walter Cronkite, the FBI arrives, Tranghese& co. nail "Big Al" Bruno and the murder of Joan Andres.



The Labovitz trial, Mike Smith develops a new career, missing tape recordings at the trial, new money arrives and is lost, the fall guys are sentenced and Labovitz is acquitted.