Tag: Morris Levy
As a consultant for one of New Jersey’s long-delayed medical marijuana centers, Levy, like any individual tied to a dispensary, had a lot of questions to answer. The scrutiny was part of an extensive vetting process that health department officials started back in February.
Tax returns, litigation records and business filings were all fair game. So was the big elephant in the room: the fact that Levy’s father happened to be one the most famous mob guys in the New York area.
Morris Levy made his fortune as the wheeling-and-dealing head of Roulette Records, the label that signed Tommy James and the Shondells but doubled as a front for the Genovese crime family. He died 22 years ago awaiting federal sentencing for extortion charges. His story, as legend has it, would later inspire a character on “The Sopranos.”
“I immediately disclosed everything about my family,” Adam Levy said. “I explained to them who my father was. I explained to them that I have nothing to do with that life, and I’m not involved with that life.”
More than six months later, the Compassionate Care Foundation of Egg Harbor still has not passed the state’s vetting criteria and cannot grow a crop of marijuana until that process is done. And now, the center’s CEO is speaking out, casting the blame on Levy and saying he wants him out of the operation.
The resulting feud has created an impasse that threatens to further delay the dispensary, all as center officials are growing antsy.
“They’re investigating him,” Bill Thomas, the CEO, said of Levy. “He’s not approved. We don’t why he’s not approved. They won’t tell us that, but everybody else is approved.”
Donna Leusner, a spokeswoman from the Department of Health and Senior Services, said department policy forbids comment on “ongoing examinations.”
As for Levy, 49, he said no one from the health department has told him he’s holding up the vetting. Levy is hearing the information secondhand through Thomas, and wondering if any of it is true, he said.
Levy’s company, Medical Growth Consulting, is also in limbo. Thomas said health department officials told him the consulting contract violated the state’s not-for-profit rules, which govern medical marijuana centers.
After realizing the contract and possibly Levy himself were creating problems, Thomas said he decided to terminate the contract and ask Levy to leave.
But Levy wouldn’t agree to end the contract, Thomas said.
“Our greatest delay right now is reconciling Adam Levy,” he said. “We’ve asked him to step aside, but Adam won’t step out of the way. Our stumbling block right now is Adam.”
Just a month ago, Thomas was projecting a December launch for the vacant Egg Harbor warehouse, which will serve as both the marijuana-growing site and the dispensary. The site is one of six planned centers across the state, none of which has opened, even though the legislation was signed in January 2010.
Now, any sort of timeline is uncertain.
For more than a year, Levy said his consulting group has provided staffing and consulting, along with a line of credit. Now, Levy said he’s lost a year of time and resources, left with only “massive losses” that are “in the high six figures.”
“If a son is condemned because of who his father is, I should have been told back in February,” he said.
Coincidentally, Levy said, his father was the one who inspired his interest in medical marijuana.
Nearing the end of his life, Morris Levy was battling colon cancer and taking derivatives of morphine to handle the pain. He had turned into a type of zombie, Adam said.
“Then I smoked some marijuana with my father. An amazing thing happened. My dad came back. He was animated, and he was talking,” he said. “The value of that is important to me today, 20-something years later.” More than two years ago, Adam Levy, who retired from his own career in the record business and now lives in Rumson, decided he wanted to get involved in the state medical marijuana industry.
He doesn’t attempt to sugarcoat the legacy of his father, nor does he fault those who are suspicious of his background.
A dairy-turned-horse farm in Ghent, N.Y., was the home base for Morris Levy and his family. It was there that Adam Levy met some of the most reputed, and most feared, names in organized crime.
Singer Tommy James, famous for his hits “Hanky Panky” and “Mony Mony,” wrote a book titled “Me, the Mob and the Music,” which chronicles his rise to fame under the elder Levy’s intimidating influence.
The book, James said, will be made into a movie. Right now, it’s in early development and set to be produced by Barbara De Fina, who produced “Goodfellas” and frequently works with director Martin Scorsese.
“None of us realized who we were rubbing shoulders with,” James said. “Unbeknownst to us when we signed, Roulette (Records) was a front for the Genovese crime family. So here we are doing rock and roll with this dark and sinister story that we couldn’t talk about.”
James’ book includes a photo of a young Adam playing in the snow as Anthony “Fat Tony” Salerno helped him zip up his winter coat. Salerno, the front boss of the Genovese family, was later sentenced to more than 100 years in prison on racketeering charges.
James, who now lives in Cedar Grove, said he met the younger Levy when the boy was just 8.
“I basically have always felt that Adam was a really good guy and that he probably was given a bit of a bad break because of the things his father was involved in,” he said. “Adam was not like his dad. Adam is a real straight shooter.”
As a kid, Adam said he didn’t understand the concept of the mafia. It wasn’t until he was a teenager, watching a television special about the mob, that he first understood that his family’s close friends were renowned criminals.
“I was a child,” he said.
Still, he can’t escape the stigma. Earlier this year, state investigators showed Levy a chart of organized crime family members and associates. They wanted him to check off the names he knew, he said.
Of the 75 names, he recognized about 15 or 16.
Now he’s wondering if he missed someone or did something that could explain the lengthy vetting delay.
“You start laying awake at night and thinking of every one person you know and what they do,” he said. “You’re paranoid at that point. There’s nothing that I know of.”
No, the “mob” in Tommy James’ new autobiography, “Me, the Mob and the Music,” is not a reference to the millions of fans who screamed for his hits, including “I Think We’re Alone Now,” “Mony, Mony” and “Crimson and Clover.”
Rather, it’s the underworld mob … guys inclined to beat people up with baseball bats and take more than their fair share of royalties if you happen to be recording for them … that James speaks of.
James’ dealings with the mobbed up Morris Levy, head of Roulette Records, are told in exact and very entertaining detail in his new Scribner book.
“I really didn’t want to tell this story until the last of the Roulette guys passed away in 2005,” James said. “”I really was pretty uncomfortable talking about all of this.”
In “Me, the Mob and the Music,” James tells of an awkward working relationship with Levy, for whom James felt affection and fear. Levy, as James points out, was an associate of Genovese Family types like “Fat Tony” Salerno and Vincent “The Chin” Gigante, whose stable of artists included Frankie Lymon and the Teenagers and Joey Dee and the Starliters.
James is the first big-name artist to openly tell the story of the mob’s influence on the recording industry in the 1960s.
“There was a lot of intimidation,” James said. “People are reluctant to name names and tell it like it was.”
Recording for Levy did have its benefits, James said, from a streamlined marketing department to James’ choice of songwriters.
“Without Morris Levy, there wouldn’t have been a Tommy James,” James said.
These days, James plays about 25 shows a year with the original Shondells. He’s also working with show business producer Barry Rosen on a film and stage version of “Me, the Mob and the Music.” James, a native of Michigan who now lives in Cedar Grove, said that four actors will play him throughout various stages of his career.
He’s working on a new version of “I Think We’re Alone Now” for the project.
“This version is very different,” said James, who comes to Clinton Book Shop on Saturday for a signing. “It’s the end of the movie and Morris dies (in 1990), and it truly is “I think we’re alone now.’ ”
Source: My Central Jersey