Former ILA Officials in New Jersey Plead Guilty to Extortion

international longshoremen_s association logoNorthern New Jersey’s International Longshoremen’s Association Local 1235 has remained a profit center for the Genovese crime family despite the reform process set in motion by various prosecutions and an ILA takeover. That reality was brought home on October 15 when Robert Ruiz, an ex-local delegate to the parent union, was sentenced in Newark federal court to 20 months in prison, plus two years of supervised release, for his role in a racket to extort payments from members during Christmas season. He had pleaded guilty in May to conspiracy. Ruiz is among more than a dozen defendants in the case. They include the three previous local presidents, Albert Cernadas, Vincent Aulisi and Thomas Leonardis, the latter two of whom also pleaded guilty in May. Cernadas and two other non-Local 1235 defendants, Stephen Depiro and Nunzio LaGrasso, face pending charges.

The Newark-based ILA Local 1235 represents dockworkers at the …

Top Ten Union Corruption Stories of the Year

The increasing overlap of labor and political activism is an insidious form of public corruption in this country. It enables union officials to deemphasize their role of representing workers at the bargaining table in favor of advocating policies to socialize the economy, building incestuous relationships with politicians, and fattening their bank accounts. This tendency was heavily felt in 2012, a presidential election year. Union leaders recognized the need to re-elect their ally and benefactor, President Barack Obama, over someone who was a wealthy Republican with a strong business background; i.e., someone they truly could despise. They got what they wanted. In the process, they further built a political infrastructure. Yet union leaders also experienced reversals of fortune at the state level – most of all, in Michigan – where they had been used to getting their way.

The passage by the Michigan legislature this past December of a pair of

FBI Raid Shows New York Unions Are Still Mob Targets

Genovese soldier Salvester ZarzanaThe Genovese crime family has a well-earned reputation as the most feared of New York City’s five Mafia organizations. An FBI bust this spring may weaken that standing. Local unions are hoping so. On April 18, an 18-count indictment was unsealed in Brooklyn federal court charging 11 arrestees with racketeering, embezzlement, extortion and other offenses. At least eight are Genovese soldiers or associates, including capo Conrad Ianniello, nephew of recently-deceased onetime acting boss Matthew Ianniello. U.S. Attorney Loretta Lynch, Eastern District of New York, stated: “This indictment is the most recent chapter in this office’s continued fight against organized crime’s efforts to infiltrate unions and businesses operating in New York City.” All defendants, save for one, have pleaded not guilty. Her spokesman told NLPC this week that all other cases are still pending. 

New York’s La Cosa Nostra families in recent years have seen attrition in their ranks as …

Longshoremen Set to Strike; Seek to Retain Archaic Practices

harold-daggettWhen it comes to protecting job turf, few unions are as ferocious as the International Longshoremen’s Association (ILA). And the union isn’t about to compromise that reputation, with its collective bargaining agreement set to expire September 30. “It looks like we’re going to have a strike,” said ILA President Harold Daggett (see photo). On August 22, talks in Delray Beach, Fla. between the ILA and a shipping industry trade group, the U.S. Maritime Alliance (USMX), broke down. At this writing, they remain at an impasse, though each side has agreed to meet soon. The ILA, which represents 65,000 employees at East Coast, Great Lakes, Gulf of Mexico and other cargo ports in the U.S. and Canada, is insisting employers drop plans to institute cost-saving technologies and labor practices. The contract would cover 14,500 workers. USMX counters that these reforms are overdue and that a strike could seriously damage the …

New York Construction Boss Olivieri Guilty of Perjury

Joseph Olivieri photoFor union officials who wanted to line their pockets with benefit payments intended for members, Joseph Olivieri was the man to see. Now they will have to go elsewhere. This Wednesday a Manhattan federal jury found Olivieri, ex-executive director of the Long Island-based Association of Wall, Ceiling & Carpentry Industries (WC&C), guilty of perjury in a case that underscored the extent of Genovese crime family control of New York City-area construction contractors and unions. As part of the Justice Department racketeering probe, former Carpenters & Joiners District boss Michael Forde and eight other defendants already had pled guilty. Olivieri, currently out on $500,000 bond, faces up to five years in prison plus prosecution for four other charges, including conspiracy and fraud. 

Union Corruption Update provided extensive coverage of this case two months ago. Joseph Olivieri, now 56, long had been suspected by federal investigators as the main link between …

New York City School Bus Inspectors Plead Guilty

School busLocal 1181 of the Amalgamated Transit Union (ATU) in Queens, N.Y. for years had been in the pockets of the Genovese crime family until the union’s leaders were brought down by federal racketeering charges a few years ago. And even after the parent union placed the local under trusteeship, there was some additional cleaning up to do. Last spring, four New York City school bus inspectors and supervisors were indicted for various acts of extortion, bribery and bribe-taking going back to the mid Nineties. Neil Cremin, Ira Sokol, George Ortiz and Milton Smith at the time pleaded not guilty. But the evidence against them was too strong. On February 6, Cremin and Sokol pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York to receiving bribes; Ortiz and Smith pleaded guilty in the same court to extortion and receiving bribes.

Federal prosecutors estimated that the sum of …