Albert Cernadas, has become the latest and highest-ranking official of the Intl. Longshoremen’s Assn. to be indicted on federal racketeering charges. The ILA’s exec. v.p. was indicted in Brooklyn earlier this month on charges of extortion, conspiracy, and mail and wire fraud conspiracy. The indictment expanded previous charges against Harold Daggett, the union’s assistant general and president of the ILA’s New York/New Jersey maintenance local, and Arthur Coffey, an ILA vice president who is the union’s top official in Miami.
Cernadas is also president of the ILA Local 1235 in Newark, N.J. He and Daggett have been mentioned as potential candidates to succeed ILA President John Bowers.
The grand jury indictment describes Cernadas as an associate of the Genovese crime family who handed union jobs and contracts to organized crime figures. The rumors of mob activity in the union have been swirling for years. In 2002, Gov. James E. McGreevey (D-NJ) accepted an invitation from Cernadas for an all-expenses-paid trip to Puerto Rico to speak to delegates at the union’s convention. The governor then cut short the weeklong trip after reports surfaced that union members, including Cernadas, could be subjects of a federal racketeering probe.
Cernadas, Daggett and Coffey were charged with conspiring to steer ILA health-care contracts for prescription drugs and for mental health and drug treatment to firms that allegedly paid kickbacks to the mob. The indictment cited prescription-drug contracts to GPP/VIP Inc., and mental-health contracts to Compsych Corp. Previous filings by prosecutors have alleged that in return for the contracts, GPP/VIP paid $400,000 to mobsters and that Compsych paid $60,000 a year to a Genovese crime family associate.
The men also allegedly used “actual and threatened force, violence and fear” to control the docks in New York, North Jersey and Florida, according to the indictment. Cernadas’ trial is tentatively scheduled to begin in March. [Journal of Commerce, 10/12/04: Newark Star Ledger, 10/14/2004]