01-20-11 — NEWARK, N.J. – Fifteen New Jersey residents, including an alleged member and associates of the Genovese organized crime family, are charged with racketeering and related offenses in a superseding indictment unsealed this morning in conjunction with arrests in the case, New Jersey U.S. Attorney Paul J. Fishman and Eastern District of New York U.S. Attorney Loretta E. Lynch announced. The government is represented by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Jacquelyn M. Rasulo and Taryn A. Merkl of the U.S. Attorney’s Office, Eastern District of New York; and Assistant U.S. Attorney Anthony Mahajan, of the U.S. Attorney’s Office, District of New Jersey.
GENOVESE ORGANIZED CRIME FAMILY SOLDIER AND ASSOCIATES INDICTED ON RACKETEERING CHARGES, INCLUDING EXTORTION OF INTERNATIONAL LONGSHOREMEN’S ASSOCIATION MEMBERS
Union Officials Charged with Participation in Three-Decade Conspiracy to Extort Dock Workers
NEWARK, N.J. – Fifteen New Jersey residents, including an alleged member and associates of the Genovese organized crime family, are charged with racketeering and related offenses in a superseding indictment unsealed this morning in conjunction with arrests in the case, New Jersey U.S. Attorney Paul J. Fishman and Eastern District of New York U.S. Attorney Loretta E. Lynch announced.
The 53-count superseding indictment filed in Newark federal court charges Stephen Depiro, a soldier in the Genovese organized crime family of La Cosa Nostra (the “Genovese family”), and three Genovese family associates – Albert Cernadas, former President of International Longshoremen’s Association (“ILA”) Local 1235 and former ILA Executive Vice President; Nunzio LaGrasso, the Vice President of ILA Local 1478 and ILA Representative; and Richard Dehmer – with racketeering conspiracy, including predicate acts of conspiring to extort ILA members on the New Jersey piers, bookmaking, extortionate collection of credit, and illegal gambling. Depiro and Dehmer are also charged with racketeering conspiracy involving the collection of unlawful debt and charges relating to bookmaking and gambling.
Seven other defendants, including Thomas Leonardis, the President of ILA Local 1235 and ILA Representative; Robert Ruiz, the Delegate of ILA Local 1235 and ILA Representative; and Vincent Aulisi, former President of ILA Local 1235, are charged with extorting ILA members. The indictment also includes bookmaking and gambling charges against four additional defendants.
A separate indictment was also unsealed today in Brooklyn federal court, charging that Patrick Cicalese, Robert Moreno, and Manuel Salgado – ILA members on the New Jersey piers – impeded a proceeding before a federal grand jury in the Eastern District of New York by committing perjury.
Fourteen of the defendants charged in the Newark indictment were arrested this morning in a coordinated law enforcement effort. Cernadas was previously charged and arrested. All three defendants charged in the Brooklyn indictment were also arrested this morning.
The defendants arrested on charges in the Newark superseding indictment will be arraigned this afternoon before United States Magistrate Judge Claire C. Cecchi in Newark federal court. Cernadas will be arraigned on the superseding indictment at a later date. The defendants arrested on charges in the Brooklyn indictment will be arraigned this afternoon before United States Magistrate Andrew L. Carter Jr., in Brooklyn federal court.
According to the superseding indictment and detention memo filed in Newark federal court:
Depiro is associated with a Genovese family crew, formerly headed by powerful Genovese family member Tino Fiumara, and, since at least 2005, has managed the Genovese family’s control over the New Jersey waterfront – including the nearly three-decades-long extortion of port workers in ILA Local 1, ILA Local 1235, and ILA Local 1478. Members of the Genovese family, including Depiro, are charged with conspiring to collect tribute payments from New Jersey port workers at Christmastime each year through their corrupt influence over union officials, including the last three presidents of ILA Local 1235. The timing of the extortions typically coincided with the receipt by certain ILA members of “Container Royalty Fund” checks, a form of year-end compensation.
Depiro also controlled a sports betting package that was managed by several others, including Dehmer, through the use of an overseas sports betting operation. In connection with the illegal gambling operations involving bookmaking, Dehmer threatened physical violence against individuals to collect outstanding debts for Depiro. Dehmer also allegedly operated an illegal poker club in Kenilworth, N.J.
The government’s cases are being prosecuted jointly by the U.S. Attorney’s Offices for the District of New Jersey, in Newark, and the Eastern District of New York, in Brooklyn. The charges arise from a long-term investigation initiated in the Eastern District of New York which was later joined by the District of New Jersey. These related cases are part of a larger operation announced this morning by Attorney General Eric Holder in Brooklyn. In all, 91 members and associates of seven organized crime families of La Cosa Nostra (LCN), including the New England LCN family, all five New York-based families and the New Jersey-based Decavalcante family have been charged with federal crimes in 16 indictments returned in four judicial districts. Another 36 defendants also have been charged for their roles in alleged associated criminal activity.
U.S. Attorney Paul J. Fishman stated: “According to the charges unsealed today, organized crime still has a grip on the New Jersey waterfront. Workers should be free to pursue an honest living without being worried that their own union representatives will shake them down. Our ports and those who work there play vital roles in our region’s economy and security. Paying tribute to the mob is not an acceptable cost of doing business in New Jersey.”
“Today’s arrests are an example of this Office’s commitment to eradicating La Cosa Nostra’s corrupting influence in our communities,” stated Loretta E. Lynch, United States Attorney for the Eastern District of New York. “The charges announced today are but an example of some of the myriad crimes allegedly engaged in by members and associates of LCN, including entrenched labor racketeering, extortion, and gambling.”
Michael B. Ward, Special Agent In Charge of the Newark Division of the FBI stated: “It’s become almost cliché to link organized crime to New Jersey, with oft-repeated comments about the ‘Soprano State’ and bodies allegedly being buried in the Meadowlands. Today’s arrests will serve as a stark reminder that organized crime continues to operate in New Jersey through corruption, extortion, racketeering, and violence. Organized crime is not to be romanticized, but rather is now being targeted anew by the FBI in New Jersey by agents whose attention is focused on these groups 24/7.”
“Today’s RICO indictments are part of our long-term fight to rid the ports of New Jersey and New York of the stranglehold of organized crime. Several union officials from two locals of the International Longshoremen’s Association were arrested this morning on corruption charges. The alleged conspiracy involved a scheme to extort tribute payments from union members for members of the Genovese crime family. We will continue to work with our law enforcement partners to prevent the influence of organized crime over unions,” stated Marjorie Franzman, Special Agent in Charge for the New York Region of the U.S. Department of Labor’s Office of Inspector General, Office of Labor Racketeering and Fraud Investigations.
U.S. Attorneys Fishman and Lynch credited the FBI in New York and New Jersey and the Department of Labor’s Office of Inspector General with the investigation leading to the charges. They also thanked the Waterfront Commission of New York Harbor for their cooperation and assistance.
The charges and allegations contained in the indictments are merely accusations, and the defendants are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.
The government is represented by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Jacquelyn M. Rasulo and Taryn A. Merkl of the U.S. Attorney’s Office, Eastern District of New York; and Assistant U.S. Attorney Anthony Mahajan, of the U.S. Attorney’s Office, District of New Jersey.
The defendants and charges in the Newark indictment are outlined in the following chart, along with the maximum potential penalty per count if convicted. Each count also carries a maximum $250,000 fine.