Mafia wise guys still know how to help union officials upon request. But they also know when to pack it in. On April 10, Vincent Esposito, an enforcer for New York City’s feared Genovese crime family, pleaded guilty in U.S. District for the Southern District of New York to racketeering conspiracy engineered by Vincent D’Acunto, a former Brooklyn-based United Food and Commercial Workers secretary-treasurer. The arrangement netted Esposito millions of dollars. D’Acunto and another former UFCW secretary-treasurer in Brooklyn, Frank Cognetta, each had pleaded guilty this March after being indicted in January 2018. The actions follow a joint probe by the FBI, the NYPD and the U.S. Labor Department’s Office of Labor-Management Standards and Office of Inspector General.
Food and Commercial Workers Locals 1D and 2D, each a wine and distillery workers union, were deep in racketeering. Frank Cognetta, secretary-treasurer of UFCW Local 1D, steered nearly $500,000 from a Local 1D health plan into investments managed by a financial adviser who had been appointed by Cognetta in return for lavish bribes. Vincent Esposito, now 51, love child of Vincent “the Chin” Gigante, the late Genovese family boss of all bosses, wasn’t involved in that scam. But he was very much involved in dirty business at Local 2D that enriched D’Acunto and several other persons. According to prosecutors, Esposito and co-defendant Steven Arena, also a Genovese made man, along with four other reputed Genovese soldiers, conspired with D’Acunto during 2001-17 to extort money from an unnamed Local 2D officer by threatening violence and unemployment if the latter did not do as told. This shakedown continued until the arrests and indictments at the start of last year. The plea deal calls for Esposito to receive a prison sentence of no more than 30 months and to forfeit $3.8 million in assets. “I knew my agreement was wrong and illegal,” Esposito told the court. At least he has some humility. Sentencing is set for July 10.