REPUTED MOB associate Ron Galati, whose auto-body shop has received more than $1 million from the City of Philadelphia for working on police cars and other city vehicles, is known for cozying up to cops by throwing block parties or repairing their personal vehicles at a discount.
Over the summer, Galati's glad-handing extended to District Attorney Seth Williams, according to a source who attended a block party near Galati's home on Garnet Street in South Philly.
"He was palling around with Galati," the party attendee said of Williams.
Galati, 63, who did time in federal prison in the 1990s and is currently the target of an insurance-fraud investigation, was arrested last week on allegations that he hired hit men to kill three people.
"The fact that he put hits out on people doesn't make people very willing to talk about this subject matter," said the source, who attended the party with Galati and Williams.
Yesterday, Williams' spokeswoman, Tasha Jamerson, confirmed his attendance at the party, but said the two men had no prior relationship. Philadelphia police and state organized-crime authorities have been investigating Galati for a year and a half for crimes related to insurance fraud, according to court documents.
"The district attorney attends lots of block parties in the summer, and yes, he did attend a block party on South Garnet Street," Jamerson emailed. "That was the first he met Ron Galati Sr."
The city has paid Galati's company, American Collision & Automotive Center, about $1.2 million since 2011. City officials on Wednesday decided to stop sending cars there after the Daily News reported on the American Collision contract and Galati's alleged attempt to hire men to kill his daughter's boyfriend, as well as a cooperating grand-jury witness and the witness' son.
The boyfriend, Andrew Tuono, was shot outside his Atlantic City home on Nov. 30, but survived, according to court documents.
"Galati is slick. He would throw neighborhood block parties and befriend cops," said a police source. "That was his thing: get everyone to love him."
The police source said some cops go to Galati because "he takes care of their personal cars and cuts them breaks."
Louis "Bent Finger Lou" Monacello, a witness in the ongoing racketeering retrial of reputed mob boss Joseph "Uncle Joe" Ligambi and his nephew, George Borgesi, testified last month that he and Borgesi once participated in an illegal body-shop kickback scheme with Galati.
City officials said this week that American Collision has done good work at a reasonable price. But friends say Galati, who once employed Joey Merlino and found himself on a John Stanfa hit list in the '90s, also has a fascination with the organized-crime lifestyle.
"He would constantly - I mean constantly - quote from the movie 'GoodFellas,'" one former friend said. "He always wanted to be a gangster."