UFCW Secretary-Treasurers in Brooklyn Plead Guilty to Racketeering

Vincent D’Acunto Jr. knew a lot of Mafia guys who got things done. But even the mob couldn’t bail him out this time. On March 18, D’Acunto, former secretary-treasurer of the Brooklyn, N.Y.-based United Food and Commercial Workers Local 2D, pleaded guilty in Manhattan federal court to racketeering conspiracy. A week earlier, on March 11, Frank Cognetta, former secretary-treasurer of the UFCW Local 1D, also Brooklyn-based, pleaded guilty in Manhattan federal court to racketeering. Each had been arrested and indicted in January 2018, along with two Genovese crime family enforcers, Vincent Esposito and Steven Arena, who did D’Acunto’s dirty work, plus another Genovese mobster. The actions follow a joint investigation by the FBI, the NYPD and the Labor Department’s Office of Labor-Management Standards and Office of Inspector General.

United Food and Commercial Workers Locals 1D and 2D each represent wine and distillery workers. They also were corrupt. According to federal prosecutors, Frank Cognetta, a resident of Staten Island, N.Y., had been charged with racketeering, honest services fraud and bribery last January in connection with steering nearly $500,000 from a Local 1D health plan to a financial adviser whom he had appointed as an insurance broker. And Vincent D’Acunto Jr., son of a late president of UFCW Local 2D, conspired with Genovese co-defendants Steven Arena and Vincent Esposito, plus four reputed Genovese made men, to conduct a scheme lasting during 2001-17 in which Arena and Esposito would extort money from an unnamed Local 2D officer with threats of violence and loss of employment. The takedown of Esposito was especially gratifying to the feds because he is a son of the late Genovese family boss of all bosses, Vincent “the Chin” Gigante.

A fifth defendant indicted in January 2018, Frank Giovinco, like Arena and Espositio, was a soldier in the Genovese crime family, though unconnected to the UFCW rackets. He was, however, knee-deep in a trash-hauling business cartel operated by the Genovese and Gambino families that terrorized rivals in the waste paper industry. Indeed, Giovinco and three other Genovese mobsters pleaded guilty to various state charges related to that racket in July 1997. He, Arena and Esposito have yet to plead guilty in the latest round of charges, but perhaps they should. Few would miss them anyway.