Two Men Plead Guilty In Dock Workers Shakedown Probe

TRENTON – Two men pleaded guilty today in connection with a joint investigation by the Division of Criminal Justice and Waterfront Commission of New York Harbor into alleged extortion of money from dock workers at the Port of New York and New Jersey, Attorney General Paula T. Dow and Criminal Justice Director Stephen J. Taylor announced.

According to Taylor, Joseph Queli, 65, of Wall, and Nicholas Bergamotto, 64, of Newark, pleaded guilty today before Superior Court Judge Anthony J. Mellaci Jr. in Monmouth County. The two men were charged in an Oct. 26, 2010 indictment.

Queli pleaded guilty to one count of second-degree conspiracy to commit criminal usury and money laundering, and a second count of third-degree filing false tax returns. Under the plea agreement, the state will recommend that he be sentenced to seven years in state prison. Queli must forfeit $24,260 seized in the investigation. In pleading guilty, Queli admitted that he made loans at usurious interest rates in excess of 50 percent per year. The investigation revealed that Queli made usurious loans, which is commonly known as loansharking, to members of the International Longshoremen’s Association, and that he or Bergamotto, acting on his behalf, would demand weekly payments from the union members.

Bergamotto pleaded guilty today to a charge of third-degree money laundering. The state will recommend that he be sentenced to a term of probation. In pleading guilty, Bergamotto admitted that he collected payments on the usurious loans made by Queli and delivered the money to him.

Mellaci scheduled sentencing for the two men for Jan. 27, 2012.

Queli and Bergamotto were initially arrested and charged in April 2010 as a result of Operation Terminal, an ongoing investigation by the Division of Criminal Justice and the Waterfront Commission of New York Harbor into the activities of a criminal enterprise that allegedly has exercised control and corrupt influence over International Longshoremen’s Association (ILA) locals operating shipping terminals at the Port. The criminal enterprise allegedly was demanding “tribute” from dock workers for better jobs and pay.

Charges against other defendants, including a top union official and a Newark police officer, are still pending.

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