Updated news on the Gambino, Genovese, Bonanno, Lucchese and Colombo Organized Crime Families of New York City.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

2 Hunterdon men accused of extorting money at Christmastime from longshoremen's union members

For workers on the docks and piers of New Jersey, Christmastime for years meant longshoremen being forced to pay money to union leaders, federal officials say.
Two Hunterdon men who are in the International Longshoremen’s Association union are charged in a superseding federal indictment that adds dozens of counts to a previous indictment charging multiple defendants — including an alleged member and associates of the Genovese organized crime family — with racketeering and related offenses.
The additional charges include conspiring to extort Christmastime “tributes” from ILA members on the New Jersey piers. The defendants are accused of taking money from the workers through “wrongful use of, actual and threatened force, violence and fear.”
The Hunterdon defendants are Thomas “Tommy” Leonardis, 54, of Rocky Run Road, Lebanon Township, president of International Longshoremen’s Association Local 1235 and ILA representative, and Edward “Eddie” Aulisi, 52, of Pleasant Run Road, Readington Township. According to officials, he had a “no-show” job as a longshoreman. He’s the son of Vincent “The Vet” Aulisi, 78, of West Orange, a former Local 1235 president, who was also indicted.
Leonardis is charged with extortion conspiracy and extortion of ILA members. Edward Aulisi is charged with extortion conspiracy. The charges are under the federal Hobbs Act, which is used to combat racketeering in labor cases.
According to government records, as president of the 887-member local, Leonardis received a salary of $206,130 in 2010, plus business expenses of $5,180 for total compensation of $211,310. He moved from Essex County to Lebanon Township in 1999.
The original indictment was returned in January 2011. A 103-count superseding indictment was unsealed Dec. 15 in Newark federal court in which previously charged defendants Stephen Depiro, who federal officials allege is a soldier in the Genovese organized crime family of La Cosa Nostra (the “Genovese family”), and three Genovese family associates, Albert Cernadas, former president of ILA Local 1235; Nunzio LaGrasso, vice president of ILA Local 1478; and a Richard Dehmer are charged with racketeering conspiracy.
The new indictment accuses current or former ILA supervisors with extortion conspiracy and extortion. LaGrasso and five other men, including Leonardis and Vincent Aulisi, are charged with additional counts of extortion of ILA members. A total of 28 people are listed as extortion victims.
Members of the Genovese family, including Depiro, are charged with conspiring to collect “tribute” payments from New Jersey port workers at Christmastime each year through their corrupt influence over union officials, including the last three presidents of Local 1235.
The timing of the extortions typically coincided with the receipt by certain ILA members of “Container Royalty Fund” checks, a form of year-end compensation, the government said.
Investigators said Edward Aulisi was caught on tape assuring reputed mob boss Michael Coppola that the Christmas tribute money would continue even after Cernadas left, and in fact had doubled. Documents refer to Aulisi as a “Genovese crime family associate.”
The payments were the focus of some attention during a hearing in October 2010 by the Waterfront Commission of New York Harbor. Edward Aulisi, whom officials say held a no-show job at Port Elizabeth, was called as a witness but invoked his Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination. He had the title of checker, or dockside clerk, at the APM terminal in Elizabeth.
Commission officials showed photographs of him barbecuing and riding a lawn mower while he was scheduled to work. The commission eventually barred him from working on the waterfront for associating with Coppola.
“Those working hard for a living should not have to worry that their bosses and union officers have an allegiance to the Mafia,” said Paul Fishman, U.S. Attorney for New Jersey. “It is an unacceptable risk to this region’s security and economy for organized crime to hold sway over New Jersey’s waterfront.”

According to Loretta E. Lynch, U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of New York, “the Genovese crime family allegedly preyed upon ILA members for years through a pattern of racketeering activity” and coerced dock workers “to make ‘tribute’ payments — up to thousands of dollars each year — to the Genovese crime family at Christmastime.”



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