STATEN ISLAND — Hillary Clinton is expected to make an unannounced visit this Wednesday to Staten Island's own "White House," a sprawling estate that earned the name during its time as a legendary mob palace in the 1980s.
Clinton will be at the old home of Gambino boss Paul Castellano collecting checks from supporters in New York's Albanian-American community, her host, Sal Lusi, confirmed. Lusi, whose family business maintains the facades of Manhattan skyscrapers and who has no ties to the home's former inhabitant, is a Republican who said he's hosting the event at the insistence of his own father, who he said "worships" the Clintons for their support of ethnic Albanians in Kosovo.
"The Clintons have been the best friend Albania ever had," he added, pointing out that there is a statue of Bill Clinton in Kosovo. President Bill Clinton ordered a bombing campaign against Serbia in 1999, and Hillary Clinton addressed the Albanian Parliament in 2012 on its 100th anniversary as a free nation. She's expected at Lusi's home after taping an interview with Jimmy Fallon Wednesday.
Years before Lusi bought the 10-bathroom home in 2009 for $3.1 million, the house was the favorite relaxation spot for Castellano, who was shot to death on 46th Street on orders from his rival John Gotti in 1985.
The home was called "The White House" by law enforcement officials and mobsters because Castellano built it to resemble the real White House. He placed huge columns in front and, at one point — my old law enforcement sources say — told a caporegime: "This is how we should live. Like presidents," words that infuriated his successor Gotti, whose regular hangout was the drab Ravenite Social Club on Mulberry Street.
Lusi said he is expecting around 100 guests paying the maximum $2,700 contribution. He said it was the first time he had hosted such an event and was excited and exhausted by all the details but "proud" to be involved in a process that he hopes will land Hillary in the real White House.
A Clinton spokesman declined to comment on the house's history, or any aspect of the fundraiser, which is closed to the press. But the house has seen its share of intruders through the years. In 2011, Lusi's family was the victim of a burglar who was found in a bedroom closet. Lusi ran for his gun- he has a New York City license for it- and chased the burglar out of his house, shooting at him as he left.
And back in 1983, federal agents gained access to the house while Castellano was away and planted a bug, which caught 600 hours of Castellano talking freely to his underlings and his goomara.