N.J. Waterfront Commission holds first hearing on mob influence at docks

N.J. Waterfront Commission holds first hearing on mob influence at docks

Published: Thursday, October 14, 2010, 9:38 PM Updated: Friday, October 15, 2010, 6:10 PM

Steve Strunsky/The Star-Ledger

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Today’s otherwise sober proceedings at the commission’s lower Manhattan headquarters took an almost comic turn at one point, as former longshoreman Edward “Eddie” Aulisi, repeatedly and by rote, invoked his 5th Amendment right in response to question after question from a commission lawyer. The lawyer, Michelle Demeri, had played a taped phone conversation that, a commission detective testified, captured Aulisi talking to Michael “Mikey Cigars” Coppola, a capo in the Genovese crime family, about extortion from dock workers and other form of waterfront racketeering in March 2007. Coppola was then a fugitive from a murder investigation.

Aulisi is the son of a former International Longshoreman’s Association Local 1235 president, Vincent Aulisi, who commission officials say installed his son in a no-show job as a checker, or dockside clerk, at the APM terminal in Elizabeth. On a projection screen in the crowded hearing room, commission officials showed photographs of the son barbecuing and riding a lawnmower while he was scheduled to work. The commission eventually barred Aulisi from working on the waterfront for associating with Coppola.

“Isn’t it true that you had a no-show job at APM?” Demeri asked Aulisi.

“”On advice from my counsel, I hereby assert my privilege against self-incrimination,” he replied, repeating that same response, word-for-word a half dozen times in response to a half-dozen questions.

Testimony from Joseph Curto, president of the New York Shipping Association, a trade group, detailed labor practices codified in bargaining agreements between stevedoring companies and the longshoremen’s union. The commission officials say the practices allow for and even encourage excessive pay for little or no work, depending on the position.

For example, a relief checker, Eddie Aulisi’s typical job title, is paid whether or not he is providing relief, and is not required to be on-site even during the loading or unloading job he is assigned to.

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