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Former legislator back as parking attendant

Sunday, August 18, 2002

By Tom Barnes, Post-Gazette Staff Writer

Fans headed to a Pirates game two weeks ago may have noticed a familiar face at a North Shore parking lot.

Frank's back in town.

Former state Rep. Frank Gigliotti of Brookline, who resigned from the House in June 2000 after pleading guilty to extortion and other charges, is out of prison and working for Alco Parking Co., the city's largest operator of lots and garages.

"Frank was willing to work," Alco President Merrill Stabile said. "He started in mid-July. He's a full 40-hour-a-week man."

Stabile said he'd known Gigliotti for years and that Gigliotti's brother, Tony Gigliotti, who's worked for Alco for more than 40 years, inquired about job possibilities for him.

Frank Gigliotti, a Democrat, has a long history in local politics. He was a top official of the city Public Works Department in the 1980s, a close ally of former Mayor Richard S. Caliguiri, a former Democratic chairman of the 19th Ward and a one-time board member of the Allegheny County Sanitary Authority.

He spent six two-year terms as a state legislator from the South Hills, ending with his guilty plea and resignation.

Stabile described Gigliotti's current work status as "floating," meaning he fills in for sick or vacationing workers at Alco's 30 lots and garages.

Stabile said Gigliotti, along with all the other members of Teamsters Local 926, just got a raise under a new contract the union signed with city parking operators. Under that contract, Gigliotti gets $8 an hour plus benefits, up from the previous $6.85 an hour.

Gigliotti's job is part of a work-release program at Renewal Inc., a Downtown community corrections program. Gigliotti can go home on weekends as long as he maintains a job. He is scheduled to be released from Renewal Inc. in January.

Gigliotti pleaded guilty in April 2000 to extortion, mail fraud and filing a false income tax return. In an undercover FBI investigation he was caught on tape soliciting bribes from Shadyside painting contractor Ernest Smalis in return for helping Smalis regain his certification to do state work.

Gigliotti also pleaded guilty to extorting bribes from four contractors over three years while serving as a legislator and as an Alcosan board member.

U.S. District Judge Gustave Diamond, who sentenced Gigliotti to 46 months in federal prison, called his pattern of seeking bribes a "perversion of his office." Diamond also imposed a $6,000 fine and a prohibition on political activity for three years after his release from prison.

Before his conviction, Gigliotti was known for being a friendly politician who had a great gift of gab and enjoyed great popularity with his South Hills constituents.

When approached this week at his post in a Downtown garage, he had little to say.

"I ain't saying nothing," he told a reporter. "Leave me alone. I'm at the bottom of the barrel, and I'm keeping my big mouth shut."

A former Democratic colleague from the South Hills, state Sen. Jack Wagner of Beechview, said he'd heard recently that Gigliotti was back.

"I'm delighted to hear that he's working and that he's trying to put his life back together," Wagner said. "I think Frank has learned a difficult lesson and has paid a price."

Referring to the number of legislators in the House, former colleague Rep. Anthony DeLuca, D-Penn Hills, said: "You had 203 members in Harrisburg who would tell you he was a good guy. They were sad to see what happened.

"They didn't condone his poor judgment, but at least he didn't bankrupt people's pensions or take away their life savings, the way Enron did."

When Gigliotti was a legislator, DeLuca said: "He was always a hard worker. He fought for his constituents. He was a people guy. Just because he got himself in a jackpot, it doesn't mean he's not my friend. He always treated me with respect."

Tom Barnes can be reached at tbarnes@post-gazette.com or 412-263-1548. Post-Gazette staff writer Mike Bucsko contributed to this report.

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