The Changing Face of ORGANIZED CRIME IN NEW JERSEY – A Status Report – State of New Jersey Commission of Investigation 2004 Report

In the battered underworld of traditional organized crime, the New York-based Genovese organization is considered the most formidable element in a field of out-ofshape contenders, having surpassed the once-dominant Gambino LCN group in both strength and numbers over the past decade. State and federal law enforcement authorities estimate the Genovese group’s core membership at between 250 and 300, with well over 1,000 criminal associates. While centered in the New York metropolitan region, the Genovese family also maintains a presence in portions of Connecticut, Massachusetts, Florida, California and Nevada. The family has strong connections with other traditional and non-traditional organized crime groups throughout the United States. The Genovese group is the most active, powerful and resourceful LCN family in New Jersey, which has played a key role in its evolution and growth. Historically, more high-ranking members of the Genovese family than any other LCN group have called the Garden State their home, and it was the first of the five New York-based families to expand its rackets to New Jersey decades ago.

Today, there are five main Genovese crews headquartered in New Jersey. Also, at least four New York-based crews have operatives active in New Jersey. Approximately 40 verified rank-and-file soldiers and more than 400 criminal associates are active in New Jersey. The Genovese family has traditionally been a powerhouse in the northern part of the state, particularly in Hudson, Essex, Union, Bergen, and Passaic counties. However, during the past few years, the family has gained strength in Middlesex, Monmouth and Ocean counties. It runs the largest bookmaking and loan sharking rings in the New York/New Jersey metropolitan area. The family’s other major criminal enterprises include extortion and labor racketeering in the construction, demolition, asbestos removal, carting, recycling, trucking, and waterfront industries; theft and kickbacks from pension funds; insurance fraud; narcotics trafficking; infiltration of legitimate businesses; and public corruption. Its influence is particularly strong on the Port Newark/Elizabeth and Hudson County waterfronts. While the organization continues to commit traditional crimes such as murder, extortion, racketeering, loan sharking and illegal gambling, it has evolved into committing more sophisticated crimes, such as computer fraud, stock/securities fraud and health-care fraud. Many of these crimes are committed with the assistance of non-traditional organized crime groups, such as those with Russian and Cuban members. Of all the traditional LCN families, the Genovese group has the most contact with non-traditional criminal organizations, and the money and power they command.

Not only is the Genovese family the strongest LCN group in the nation, but it also is the most unique. Its members and associates are permitted to retain a higher portion of their illegal earnings than those of other LCN families. The Genovese group also is unique among its LCN counterparts in that it has attempted for more than two decades to maintain a “façade” hierarchy designed to disguise the identities of its true leaders and insulate them from scrutiny. Law enforcement experts believe the group adopted this strategy during the late 1970s, in part to minimize the risk of dealing with other crime families that had been penetrated by undercover investigators. In addition, family leaders tend to deeply insulate themselves with layers of highly trusted members. Members of the organization also attempt to avoid law enforcement detection by being so-called “commuter mobsters.” This means that members may reside in New York and conduct their illegal activity in New Jersey, and vice versa. The resilience, stability and strength of the Genovese group also can be attributed to its penchant for secrecy and the sophistication of its operations, as well as a lack of cooperation with law enforcement authorities. In recent years, while key members of other LCN groups became government witnesses to the serious detriment of their former comrades, the Genovese family has remained relatively free of turncoats.

Since the early 1980s, the “official” boss of the Genovese group continues to be Vincent L. “Chin” Gigante. After years of faking mental illness and incompetence, Gigante was convicted on federal racketeering and murder conspiracy charges in 1997. In early 2003, Gigante gave up his “crazy act” and pled guilty to obstructing justice by feigning mental illness from 1990 to 1997. He received an additional three years on his sentence, and his projected release date is now June of 2010. Prosecutors contended that while incarcerated, Gigante ran the Genovese organization by using his son Andrew V. Gigante as a conduit to relay his father’s orders from prison. Law enforcement officials claim that Andrew, although not a “made” member, was a power on the New Jersey waterfront. A federal grand jury indicted Andrew in 2002, along with other key Genovese operatives, for running lucrative extortion rackets on the docks in New Jersey, New York and Miami. All the defendants, including Andrew, who had no previous criminal record, pled guilty in early 2003. Now in federal prison, Andrew’s projected release date is July 2005.

Michael J. Generoso served as the organization’s “acting” and “official” underboss for several years in the 1990s. Generoso spent 15 months in federal prison in 1997 and 1998 on a plea agreement to avoid a federal racketeering trial. He maintains a residence in Brooklyn. At 86, and due to his advanced age, law enforcement authorities believe that Generoso has become far less active in playing a key leadership role in the organization.

Lawrence J. “Larry Fab” Dentico of Seaside Park, N.J., is the “official” consigliere of the group. Dentico has extensive familiarity with family operations. In the 1950s, he served as soldier under the group’s namesake boss, the late Vito Genovese. Later, he was a top aide to former consigliere and New Jersey operations chief Louis A. “Bobby” Manna. Once incarcerated for contempt for refusing to testify before the SCI, Manna was sentenced to 80 years in federal prison in 1989 for racketeering and conspiracy to commit murder.

Law enforcement officials believe that the top hierarchy of the Genovese family has adopted a less formally structured organization than it had in the past. The family is being managed discretely by a core group of individuals with a high degree of allegiance to Vincent Gigante. Gigante’s brother, Mario R. Gigante, a New York-based capo, is currently an acting boss and caretaker of the organization. Mario was released from federal prison in June of 2001 after completing a five-year term for extortion and racketeering in the solid waste hauling industry. Another acting boss is consigliere Dentico. The street boss is John Barbato, a Staten Island resident and long-time capo in the Genovese organization. Barbato formerly served as chauffeur and bodyguard for former Genovese underboss Venero F. “Benny Eggs” Mangano. Barbato’s name appears on the New Jersey Casino Control Commission’s Exclusion List. New York-based captain Dominick “Quiet Dom” Cirillo is also believed to play a managing role. The low-keyed Cirillo is a close ally of Vincent Gigante and served as acting boss in the late 1990s and as the street boss for several decades. Cirillo resides in the Bronx but, despite a heart attack in 1998, has been very active in northern New Jersey.

Like the actual managing hierarchy, the façade hierarchy is not as formally structured as it once was. From time to time, the Genovese organization will put word out on the street that various individuals are the boss, underboss or consigliere in order to take the focus of law enforcement away from the individuals who are the actual leaders. At this time, the façade hierarchy is unclear. Some law enforcement officials believe John Barbato is the façade boss. In the past, key captains Liborio S. “Barney” Bellomo, Matthew “Matty the Horse” Ianniello, and Ernest Muscarella have been façade bosses. Bellomo and Muscarella are presently in federal prison on extortion convictions. Bellomo’s and Muscarella’s projected release dates are February 2005 and December 2007, respectively. Ianniello is a powerful senior member with an extensive background in Genovese family operations. His crew is New York-based, but it has much activity in New Jersey.

Another key family leader is Tino R. Fiumara, a high-ranking caporegime and one of New Jersey’s most feared mob figures. Fiumara, formerly of Spring Lake, enjoys enhanced status because of his reputation for violence and links to key portions of the organization’s racketeering interests in and around the Port of New York and New Jersey – traditionally a major Genovese revenue-producer. Whether Fiumara will actually be able to fulfill his leadership ambitions, however, remains to be seen. He was released from federal prison and placed on probation after serving 15 years of a 25-year racketeering sentence. In 1999, federal authorities ordered Fiumara back to prison for violating the terms of his probation by leaving the New Jersey without permission, associating with known felons and involvement in a continuing criminal enterprise. During his time on the street, Fiumara served as head of the New Jersey faction of the Genovese organization. In April 2002, the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of New Jersey obtained an indictment against Fiumara for conspiring to assist fugitive Michael Coppola in Coppola’s flight to avoid apprehension and prosecution. While awaiting trial, Fiumara was released from federal prison in June 2002. In March 2003, he pled guilty to conspiring to conceal and failing to report that he had been in contact with Coppola. In November, a federal judge ordered Fiumara back to prison for eight months for concealing Coppola’s whereabouts.

While Fiumara was imprisoned in the 1980s and 1990s, Coppola supervised Fiumara’s crew. Himself a fugitive since 1996, Coppola is wanted for his role as the suspected triggerman in the 1977 murder of John “Johnny Coca-Cola” Lardiere, who at the time he was shot to death was on temporary furlough from imprisonment for contempt, having refused to testify before the SCI. The Fiumara/Coppola crew is one of the largest and most resourceful Genovese crews operating in New Jersey, with key influence in the Newark/Elizabeth Seaport. Its area of operation is primarily Union, Essex and Bergen Counties. Ranking members Michael A. Borelli and Lawrence A. Ricci have been supervising this crew for Coppola and Fiumara. Ricci mainly oversees solid waste removal, trucking and waterfront industry activities, while Borelli oversees the crew’s illegal gambling operations. Borelli also has strong influence in the Teamster’s Union, and has been involved in the infiltration of the health-care and construction industries.

Angelo M. Prisco, a capo from Yonkers, N.Y., heads a crew with powerful influence in northern New Jersey. Prisco, who was sentenced to a 12-year prison term for arson and conspiracy, was paroled early from state prison in August 2002, allegedly in violation of New Jersey Parole Board protocols. Prisco’s name appears on the New Jersey Casino Control Commission’s Exclusion List. Prisco now resides in Atlantic County and is believed to have resumed control of his crew. The crew’s primary activity takes place in Hudson County, along the Bayonne/Jersey City Waterfront, but it also operates in Monmouth County and Florida. While Prisco was incarcerated, Genovese member Joseph N. LaScala supervised his crew. In March 2002, several members and associates of this crew were charged with shaking down International Longshoremen’s Association (ILA) dockworkers at various Hudson County waterfront shipping terminals. In December 2001, another soldier in this crew was convicted on federal charges of embezzling funds from ILA Local 1588 in Bayonne.

Another Genovese family crew is based out of Passaic County and commanded by Joseph Gatto, a capo who was released from federal prison in October 2003 after serving 61 months for running a highly lucrative gambling and loan sharking operation. The Gatto crew is most active in Bergen and Passaic Counties. Members of this crew have been involved in racketeering in the solid waste industry, infiltration of the health care industry, illegal video gambling, bookmaking and loan-sharking.

A fourth Genovese family crew is based out of Essex County and headed by capo Silvio P. DeVita. His name appears on the Casino Control Commission’s Exclusion List. The DeVita crew specializes in construction industry and labor racketeering, the infiltration of legitimate businesses, insurance fraud, gambling and loan-sharking. Andrew N. Gerardo, who reportedly retired from head of this crew in the early 1990s and moved to Florida, routinely returns to New Jersey to receive a share of the profits and assert his authority when key decisions need to be made.

Ludwig A. Bruschi heads a fifth crew. Although he managed to stay under law enforcement’s radar for several years, in June of 2003 he was charged with racketeering, leading a criminal enterprise, loan sharking and promoting gambling. Eighteen of his subordinates also were charged in the case. Authorities say that Bruschi oversaw one of the largest illegal gambling and loan-sharking operations in New Jersey, covering portions of Ocean, Monmouth, Middlesex, Hudson, Essex, Passaic and Union counties. The operation is alleged to have booked around $500,000 a week in sports bets and had at least $1 million in illegal loans on the street at any given time, generating hundreds of thousands in interest payment profits. Bruschi is presently out on bail.

Although based in New York, a sixth crew, headed by Matthew Ianniello, known as “Matty the Horse,” operates in various parts of New Jersey. Ianniello traditionally has led a crew operating in Long Island and Queens, N.Y., but some members of his crew reside and operate in New Jersey and Florida. They are involved in gambling and racketeering in the solid waste and waterfront industries. Some members of Ianniello’s crew have close ties to members of the Fiumara/Coppola crew. Law enforcement authorities believe that, due to Ianniello’s advanced age, he is semi-retired.

Other New York-based Genovese captains who have influence and operatives in New Jersey include Rosario J. Gangi, Alphonso Malangone and Vincent J. DiNapoli. Gangi is presently serving time in federal prison, but his projected release date is August 2008. His crew is based in Brooklyn and Manhattan but is believed to have at least two members active in New Jersey. In the past, Gangi has been involved in a multimillion dollar Wall Street “pump-and-dump” scam, and in shaking down contractors on construction projects in New York and New Jersey. Malangone, a Staten Island resident now serving time in a state prison in New York on a grand larceny conviction, is also believed to have some influence in New Jersey. He can be paroled as early as April 2005, and is listed on the New Jersey Casino Control Commission’s Exclusion List. DiNapoli’s operations are based in the Bronx, but they extend to Bergen and Passaic counties. His primary criminal activity involves racketeering in the construction industry.

Of all the LCN groups, the Genovese criminal organization poses the greatest threat to New Jersey. It has a proven record of resiliency that has enabled it to maintain a grip on lucrative segments of the legitimate economy despite repeated assaults by law enforcement. Elements of this group persist in the solid waste industry, on the waterfront, in organized labor and in public construction. Continued infiltration of the latter poses a particularly stark threat given the fact that New Jersey has embarked upon a program to invest billions of taxpayer dollars in school and transportation construction programs over the next several years. In addition, the organization’s influence on the waterfront has the potential to pose an even greater security risk than in the past. By cooperating with elements of various non-traditional criminal organizations in facilitating the movement of cargo, traditional LCN could enable terrorist organizations. Moreover, the Genovese group’s diversification beyond traditional LCN activities into sophisticated financial frauds in the health-care field and on Wall Street presents law enforcement with a challenging new frontier.

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