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Federal agents today arrested three more reputed mobsters and piled on dozens more charges as part of
the largest Mafia roundup in the history of the New York/New Jersey area.
A 103-count superseding indictment was unsealed this morning in Newark federal court
in which previously-charged defendants Stephen Depiro, a soldier in the Genovese family, and three Genovese family associates are charged with with murder, extortion, theft and a host of other federal crimes stretching back nearly 30 years.
Federal prosecutors said they dismantled organizations that had run wild for decades — stealing everything from electronics to cigarettes, carrying out hits and extorting honest businessmen who paid up so they wouldn‘t have their kneecaps broken or businesses destroyed.
Nearly 130 members and associates of seven Mafia organizations — including the New Jersey-based Decavalcante Crime Family — were originally charged.
In New Jersey, 15 mobsters and associates were charged with taking over several unions and extorting its members, including taking the annual Christmas bonuses that longshoremen at Port Newark and Port Elizabeth receive from shipping companies at Christmas.
In one case, the government said, two men were killed in a bar after an argument over a spilled drink.
Genovese made-man Depiro ran the Christmas rip-off, and conspired with associate Nunzio LaGrasso, vice-president of ILA Local 1478 in Newark, to extort the union’s members, one indictment says.
Crime-family members also shook down a concrete contractor working on Liberty View Harbor in Jersey City, threatening to seriously hurt him and his business if he didn‘t pay up, the government says. The same was done to other businessmen in Manhattan, Staten Island and New Jersey, the indictments allege.
The superseding indictment adds six dozen additional extortion-related crimes against the ILA, including a dozen by LaGrasso alone. In addition to the holiday heist, he’s charged with extorting an ILA dock worker in order that the worker could keep his supervisor’s job at the port, the government says.
The superseding indictment adds current or former ILA supervisors Michael Nicolosi, Julio Porrao and Rocco Ferrandino to the defendant list on charges of extortion conspiracy and extortion.
Like LaGrasso five other defendants arrested in the January sweet were charged with additional extortion counts: 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.
Ruiz is also charged with lying to the federal grand jury investigating the mob-run operations. A separate related superseding indictment was unsealed today in Brooklyn federal court, charging Rocco Ferrandino with lying to federal investigators.
Nicolosi, Porrao and Ferrandino were arrested this morning.
Nicolosi, who lives on Staten Island, and Ferrandino, who lives in Lakewood, were due in federal court in Newark this afternoon. Porrao, who lives in Palm Coast, Fla., will be brought before a federal judge in New Jersey on a date yet to be determined.
The government’s cases are being prosecuted jointly by the U.S. Attorneys’ 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 that included
lew of witnesses and secretly recorded tapes from high-level mob meetings that included characters such as “Jac
k the Whack,” “Johnny Bandana,” and “Vinny Carwash.”
“Those working hard for a living should not have to worry that their bosses and union officers have an allegiance to the mafia,” said U.S. Attorney Paul J. Fishman. “It is an unacceptable risk to this region’s security and economy for organized crime to hold sway over New Jersey’s waterfront.”
“If there is tribute that should be paid today, it is to the men and women in law enforcement whose determination and hard work have helped to rid the piers of New York and New Jersey from the grip of organized crime.” said
Eastern District of New York U.S. Attorney Loretta E. Lynch.
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 government is represented by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Jacquelyn M. Kasulis and Jack Dennehy 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.
Taken together, the indictments lay out what for many has seemed TV or film myth but, in fact, is reality:
The head of each family — the “boss” — is assisted by an “underboss” and a counselor, or “consigliore,” most of the indictments begin. With their help, the boss sets policies, resolves disputes, protected and disciplined the “soldiers” and “associates” and collected boatloads of cash. Whenever any of the administrators was sick or locked up, an “acting” administrator would take care of business — much like the government.
Below them are “crews,” also known as “regimes” and “decinas,” each headed by a “captain,” also known as a “skipper,” “caporegime,” or “capodecina.”
“The captain was responsible for supervising the criminal activities of his crew and providing the crew with support and protection,” most of the indictments state. “In return, the captain often received a share of the crew’s earnings.”
True to reputed form, underlings are referred to as “goldfields” or “wiseguys,” or as people who’d been “straightened out” or who’d gotten their “button,” the government says.
There are also “associates,” who aren’t made members of a family but received protection in order to commit crimes.
Numbers of made members are limited. To make your bones, you have to be nominated by a current family member. Your name is then circulated among the other families for their approval or rejection — much the way New Jersey’s Senate chooses judges.
If no one objects, a secret induction ceremony is held. The applicant takes a blood oath of “allegiance for life to the crime family above all else, even the associate’s own family; swore, on penalty of death, never to reveal the crime family’s existence, criminal activities and other secrets, and swore to follow all orders issued by the crime boss, including swearing to commit murder if the boss directed it,” the indictments say.
The “principal purpose” of each enterprise the government say, is to make lots of money, by whatever means necessary — be it murder, loansharking, extortion, breaking into stores and stealing electronics in Delaware to be sold in the New York area, setting up and operating bacarat and other gambling operations, or distributing anything from pot to coke to Ecstasy.
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