Ex-boss of restaurant's drug pleas

A former city restaurant boss has admitted playing a part in an alleged drug conspiracy.

A former city restaurant boss has admitted playing a part in an alleged drug conspiracy.

Santo Cuscani was arrested last October as part of a Northumbria Police investigation into the distribution of cocaine on Tyneside.

Cuscani, also known as Alex Cuscani, admitted a charge of conspiracy to supply cocaine between August 18 2004 and October 11 2005 when he appeared at Newcastle Crown Court yesterday.

His plea was tendered on a specific basis which was not outlined in court but which prosecutor Christopher Knox said would be acceptable to the Crown.

Cuscani, 56, of Jesmond Place, Jesmond, Newcastle, was further remanded in custody after sentence was adjourned by Judge Michael Cartlidge who said his guilty plea would attract "full credit".

The flamboyant Sicilian formerly ran Newcastle's Godfather restaurant in Market Street, a popular haunt of footballers and other celebrities.

But his champagne lifestyle ended dramatically in 1994 when he was arrested for an £800,000 tax fraud while running the premises.

He was jailed for four years at Newcastle Crown Court after admitting charges of fraudulent evasion of VAT and cheating the public revenue.

He later complained to the European Court of Human Rights that his English was not good enough to follow the proceedings, and he was awarded £1,366 in costs and damages for breach of his human rights.

Cuscani, a former chairman of Gateshead Football Club, was among more than 20 suspects arrested in October as part of the investigation into cocaine supply in Newcastle.

Four-and-a-half kilos of cocaine, with a street value of around £240,000, was recovered during the operation, along with £45,750 and e4,610.

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