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Franzese says he had no doubt that he could set up the meeting with King. He says he knew King would do business with an organized-crime figure because, "I was told he was a player, and that he had done business in the past. Word was around. He's the guy you thought of because you knew he was big time." He asked members of his own family about King, Franzese says, and they told him, "He's got people in Cleveland."
Franzese decided to ask Tom (Corky) Vastola, a soldier in the DeCavalcante family, based in New Jersey, for help. "My father had known Corky," says Franzese. "Corky told me he knew King pretty well, and if I needed anything, to let him know."
Franzese says he arranged a meeting between Vastola and Quintana. Vastola, Franzese says, asked Quintana how much money he had, and Quintana told him, "Three million dollars. Cash. Right now." Shortly after that meeting, Franzese says, he demanded proof from Quintana that he had that kind of money: "He showed me paperwork...where he showed significant deposits into the account." Quintana also had Franzese call an Illinois bank, where the FBI had set up a paper account; Franzese says he was told by bank officials that Quintana had $15 million in that bank. "I said to myself, O.K. Must be for real."
Franzese then called Vastola and asked him to clear the meeting through the mob in Cleveland. Soon after, Franzese says, Vastola told him, "I got through to Cleveland, and whatever we want to do with King is O.K."
All that remained was to arrange the meeting with King. For this, says Franzese, he found a willing ally in Sharpton. According to Franzese, Sharpton had worked with him "when I was unionizing the security guards at all the major Atlantic City casinos, and Sharpton assisted me." Franzese says he told Sharpton that he and Quintana wanted to meet King, and Franzese says Sharpton replied, "I know King real well. We're brothers. I'll get you to meet him."
And that, says Franzese, was how the Jan. 12, 1983, meeting came about. When he, Quintana, Sharpton and the informant Joseph Spinelli calls Bobby arrived for that meeting, Franzese says, he went into King's office alone. The other three men would join him there in a few minutes. Franzese told King, "Don, I know there's a lot of ways to make money with these things, but right now we play it straight with these fellas. Don't tell them how they're going to make money. Don't explain to them other than the fact that we're going to do a straight promotion. For all I know they could be FBI agents."
At one point, says Franzese, he told King that Quintana had $15 million. "He [ King] was happy," says Franzese, who also quotes King as saying, "Hey, we can make some tremendous money here. We can do a lot of promotions." Franzese says he told King that he was a 50-50 partner with Quintana's company and said, "Don, this has got to be a profitable deal for all of us." To which King, according to Franzese, said there were "a lot of ways" to make money on such a deal.
Franzese did not learn that Quintana was an FBI agent until Quintana testified against him at a subsequent trial. And, Franzese adds, he thinks the FBI was on the right track in pursuing him and King.
Says Franzese, "They were right next to King. They were right where they wanted to be. As a matter of fact, I think they got a bonus because it was me and King. An organized-crime figure introduced Quintana to the top boxing promoter. The theory was correct. King would have done business with guys in organized crime."