These last few months haven’t been good to the mob-connected former leaders of two Brooklyn, N.Y. affiliates of the United Food and Commercial Workers. One of them, Vincent D’Acunto, head of UFCW Local 2D, was sentenced in August. Now it’s Frank Cognetta’s turn. On September 6, Cognetta, former secretary-treasurer of UFCW Local 1D, was sentenced in Manhattan federal court to two years in prison and three years of supervised release for racketeering conspiracy related to his fleecing the Brooklyn union in return for kickbacks from a benefits consultant. Cognetta, like D’Acunto, had pleaded guilty this March after being indicted in January 2018. The actions follow a probe by the FBI, the NYPD, and the U.S. Labor Department’s Office of Labor-Management Standards and Office of Inspector General.
According to prosecutors, Cognetta, a resident of Staten Island, “engaged in multiple schemes to defraud his union…by, among other things, soliciting and accepting bribes and steering union benefit plans in exchange for kickbacks.” During 2014-17 he moved nearly $500,000 from a union health plan to an account managed by a union financial adviser in exchange for generous kickbacks. He eventually was arrested, and pleaded not guilty in September 2017. The following January, Cognetta was indicted for racketeering conspiracy, honest services fraud and bribery. Facing up to 126 years in prison, he pleaded guilty this March. His friend, Vincent D’Acunto, secretary-treasurer of Brooklyn’s UFCW Local 2D, pleaded guilty to separate racketeering-related charges a week later. This August he received a 10-month prison sentence, to be followed by three years of supervised release. At least Cognetta, a Genovese crime family associate, did not enlist the mob. The same cannot be said of D’Acunto, who hired a pair of notorious (and eventually convicted) Genovese crime family made men, Vincent Esposito and Steven Arena, to extort millions of dollars over more than 15 years from an unnamed Local 2D official.