Prosecutors detail wiretaps of top Omaha City official accused of taking kickbacks and more
“Somebody f---ing ratted.”
That's Omaha City Council Vice-President Vinny Palermo in his own words captured on an FBI wiretap, according to the 27-page federal indictment that finds Palermo accused of taking kickbacks along with charges of bank fraud and wire fraud.
All in all, Palermo is facing nine “pending counts” all part of an alleged scheme that misused funds from PACE, an Omaha non-profit aimed at keeping inner city kids in athletics and out of trouble.
According to the indictment, Palermo is recorded on several occasions clearly concerned that FBI agents “dig and they dig…they unravel everything to see where the f---ing money’s going.”
Prosecutors detail one recorded call, between Palermo and one of his three accused accomplices, former Omaha Police Officer Johnny Palermo, that appears to find the two insisting that they needed to close ranks:
Johnny Palermo: “It made me look into the Jewish people, and how they operate. They’re like the mafia on top of the mafia…that’s what we gotta be like, you know what I’m saying.”
Vinny Palermo: “They always have been…that’s why district 66 is so tight…They take care of each other.”
Federal court records also indicate that the South Omaha Councilman, a Democrat elected in 2017 and reelected in 2021, likely believes the walls are closing in. The wiretap accuses Palermo of saying, “They’re looking for the big ticket items and that $5,000 one is a big ticket item…they’re putting all the pieces of the puzzle together.”
Prosecutors claim that Palermo stayed at a “luxury hotel suite” in Houston during September 2021. The cost $5,402, that “LPOA [the Latino Police Officers Association, once headed by Johnny Palermo) issued a check…covering the cost of that luxury suite that [Vinny Palermo] caused to be deposited in his bank account on October 13, 2021. VINCENT J. PALERMO failed to disclose this payment,” according to the indictment.
Palermo is scheduled to appear in Lincoln Federal Court Monday.
Omaha Mayor Jean Stothert has called for Palermo to resign. Palermo has not been available for comment.