NEWARK – 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 Thursday 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 arrests were part of a multi-state bust that netted more than 100 suspected mobsters.
The 53-count superseding indictment filed in Newark federal court charges Stephen Depiro, a soldier in the Genovese organized crime family, and three Genovese family associates – Albert Cernadas Sr., 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, 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 Thursday 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 Thursday morning in a coordinated law enforcement effort. Cernadas Sr. was previously charged and arrested. All three defendants charged in the Brooklyn indictment were also arrested Thursday morning.
According to authorities, 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 alleged 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 alleged corrupt influence over union officials, including the last three presidents of ILA Local 1235. The timing of the alleged extortions typically coincided with the receipt by certain ILA members of “Container Royalty Fund” checks, a form of year-end compensation.
Depiro also allegedly controlled a sports betting package that was managed by several others, including Dehmer, through the use of an overseas sports betting operation, authorities charge. In connection with the alleged illegal gambling operations involving bookmaking, Dehmer is accused of threatening physical violence against individuals to collect outstanding debts for Depiro. Dehmer also allegedly operated an illegal poker club in Kenilworth.
U.S. Attorney Paul J. Fishman said, “According to the charges unsealed [Thursday], 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.”
“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,” Michael B. Ward, Special Agent In Charge of the Newark Division of the FBI said. “[Thursday’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.”
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