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It's not easy being Dave Garofalo

September 07, 2000

Theresa Moreau

HUNTINGTON BEACH -- Sauntering down the aisle of St. Bonaventure

Catholic Church with a collection basket in hand, Mayor Dave Garofalo --

all 5 feet and 4 inches of him -- spreads himself around.

A wave here. A wink there. Even tousling the hair of a youngster

sitting on the edge of a pew. Personality plus. A self-deprecating

amateur comedian whose favorite target is himself. Even after his second

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open-heart surgery in as many years, Garofalo wisecracked last spring,

"Many people in the community were surprised I had a heart."

In another pew sits millionaire gas station mogul George Pearson, a

close friend of Garofalo's for the past five years. The two met in

church, but their relationship would later make headlines when the mayor

used his good fortune to help Pearson buy a coveted half-million-dollar

home in the St. Augustine housing tract.

A ninth-grade dropout with dyslexia who has become a sharp-witted

businessman, Pearson described his buddy as a lovable guy.

"People either love Dave Garofalo, or they hate him," Pearson said.

"Everyone I know thinks the world of him."

In another pew sits his ex-wife, Linda Garofalo, parish manager of St.

Bonaventure and the mother of Garofalo's two children, Nancy and Kevin.

Rumors circulate that the pair, although they attend the same church,

never speak. She dismissed the rumor as idle gossip.

"When I go to church, I go to church to pray, not talk," she said.

It's not easy being Dave Garofalo.

Despite his devotion to the church and God, the mayor is now bedeviled

with legal problems. He is being investigated by the Orange County

district attorney's office, the Orange County Grand Jury and the state's

Fair Political Practices Commission for possible violations of

conflict-of-interest laws.

Watching the 55-year-old Garofalo walking past the pews is almost like

witnessing a natural-born strategist whose blood is steeped in the

political tradition of the Holy Roman Catholic Church, which gave birth

to the Medici dynasty and Machiavellian principles.

Rumor is, it was.

A RELIGIOUS FAMILY

The story of Garofalo's family roots take on legendary status when

told by cousin Richard Garofalo, whose father is the mayor's uncle. From

his home in Bristol, R.I., Richard Garofalo traced the family tree,

explaining that the Garofalo family first sprouted in a small town in

Sicily with the birth of Francesco Garofalo, their paternal grandfather.

"Maybe I shouldn't say this," Richard Garofalo began, and with some

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