Top city official mum on federal probe
The Vice-President of the Omaha City Council is refusing to shed any light on a federal investigation that stretches from his home to an inner city non-profit for at-risk youngsters.
As we've been reporting, Police Chief Todd Schmaderer says he's concerned that PACE, Police Athletics for Community Engagement, "May have been used for criminal activity."
Today Councilman Vinny Palermo was nowhere to be seen during a morning briefing and later in the day turned his back on an NCN camera.
[View our full video report above and check back for a complete transcript]
This was how City Council Vice President Vinny Palermo’s first day in public, in weeks, ended.
NCN’s Joe Jordan: Mr. Palermo can I ask you a few questions, Vinny? Sir can I ask you a few questions?
Just a few weeks ago Palermo’s South Omaha home was the scene of FBI agents armed with a federal search warrant.
All part of a federal investigation that involves PACE, a non-profit aimed at keeping kids in athletics and out of trouble.
PACE Website: How do you improve the quality of life for the entire city? Here’s a proven program for 16 years, 31,000 kids.
As NCN first reported the investigation has found the city suspending over $340,000 in funding while the probe rolls on.
As for Palermo he's avoiding questions, not showing up for a post-search council meeting last month and a morning briefing today though he did offer a few words, very few, at today’s afternoon meeting.
Palermo: Want to wish everyone a Happy New Year, 2023 is here, let’s have a great meeting.
Just over three years ago Palermo was sentenced to four years federal probation, for failing to file federal income tax returns in 2012, ’13, and ’14.
When that probe first broke Palermo was also reluctant to talk.
Palermo: “I’ll refer any questions to my attorney…”
Joe Jordan, News Channel Nebraska: Do you think saying nothing is the answer?”
By the way among the terms of his probation, which has another 11 months to go: “You must not communicate or interact with someone you know is engaged in criminal activity.”
NCN’s Joe Jordan: Mr. Palermo can I ask you a few questions, Vinny? Sir can I ask you a few questions? (Palermo does not respond).
And providing no answers, Palermo silently left City Hall through the council’s back door.