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The mob's grip on Missouri phone lines reached beyond Cass County, according to the indictment. In 2000, Local Exchange Carriers, which authorities also believe was controlled by Martino and Chanes, entered into a joint venture with CenturyTel, an S&P 500 company, to purchase 127,000 phone lines in towns across Missouri, stretching (alphabetically) from Amazonia to Winona.
Matzdorff told the Public Service Commission that he put together the deal with CenturyTel, which continues to employ him as a vice president. A CenturyTel spokeswoman tells the Pitch that Matzdorff advises the company's regulatory team.
Under questioning, Matzdorff did his best to distance himself from any connection to alleged mobsters. The commission's chairman, Steve Gaw, asked at one point if he had pronounced the name LoCascio correctly. "I don't know," Matzdorff replied.
Gaw and another commissioner were gentle in questioning Matzdorff. They did not, for instance, ask Matzdorff to name his partners in USP&C -- the company that started with "no employees" -- and why the company was formed. The actions taken by regulators in Wisconsin and California suggest a dishonest operation. The California Public Utilities Commission cited USP&C's "extensive record of billing misconduct" in upholding a $1.75 million fine, which USP&C has not paid.
Gaw also didn't force Matzdorff to fully account for a $970,000 check. The indictment says the check was paid to Local Exchange Company by an entity called Overland Data Center. Matzdorff described Overland Data Center as a vendor, in which case the money should have passed in the other direction -- a notion that seemed lost on Gaw, based on a transcript of the proceeding.
The commission decided to approve the rate reduction without passing judgment on the mob allegations. Commissioners later issued a press release saying they were "still concerned" about the allegations and would consider opening a case to monitor developments.
Back in Cass County, Matzdorff is not speaking to the media, but he does move in public. Mayor Lewis says he encouraged Matzdorff, who seemed to want to keep a low profile when the mob story broke, to take his coffee at Pat's again.
"No one bugs him about it," Lewis says. "No one really talks about it. We just talk about the weather, the crops, the football team, whatever. In my book, he's an OK guy. I feel there's nothing negative about him."