Feds: Mobsters Extorted Union Members At Christmastime

January 20, 2011 11:53 a.m.

Among the many charges in the 16 indictments related to the FBI’s massive mob bust today, officials allege that members of the Genovese crime family have “preyed” for years on members of the International Longshoremen’s Association in New Jersey — with the help of union officials.The indictment states that from 1982 until this year, Stephen Depiro, an alleged “soldier” for the Genovese family and manager of the family’s illegal activities on the New Jersey piers, along with the former president of ILA Local 1235 Albert Cernadas and vice president of ILA Local 1478 Nunzio Lagrasso (who is also Depiro’s cousin), extorted “tribute payments” from ILA members around Christmastime. During the holiday season, certain union members received royalty payment checks paid by shipping companies using the ports of New York and New Jersey.

[TPM SLIDESHOW: The FBI’s Huge Mob Takedown]

According to court documents filed by U.S. Attorney Paul J. Fishman, the alleged extortion scheme implicates the last three presidents of ILA Local 1235, and the current vice presidents of ILA Local 1235 and 1478. “Countless” ILA members were victimized. The scheme allegedly involved the “systematic use of actual and threatened force, violence and fear” and payments ranged up to thousands of dollars a year.

According to court documents, Lagrasso received $255,916 last year as vice president of ILA Local 1478, and Cernadas made $532,719 in 2004 as president of ILA Local 1235.

The ILA told TPM they were still reviewing the indictment.

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