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

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Papa Smurf pleads guilty to racketeering charges involving waste hauling in New York and New Jersey

Carmine Franco, a former Bergen County trash-collection baron ultimately banned from the industry in New Jersey, pleaded guilty on Friday to federal racketeering charges stemming from a crackdown on Mafia control over waste-hauling in New York and New Jersey.

Franco, 78, of Ramsey, and Anthony Pucciarello, also 78, of Bloomfield, confessed in federal court in Manhattan to taking part in an illegal scheme to exert control over the commercial waste-hauling industry in the two states.

They were among 32 defendants linked to three organized crime families — Genovese, Gambino and Lucchese — charged in January in connection with the scheme. Sixteen of the defendants have pleaded guilty.

Franco faces a penalty of 45 years in prison when sentenced March 19. He also has agreed to forfeit proceeds of $2.5 million. Pucciarello faces three years in prison when sentenced March 21.

“With today’s guilty pleas, Carmine Franco and Anthony Pucciarello become the latest defendants to be held to account for their roles in a criminal racketeering enterprise that encircled the waste-hauling industry in the New York City area and parts of New Jersey,” Manhattan U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara said in a release. “This office will continue working with our law enforcement partners to pry loose the tentacles of organized crime from around the industries it tries to control.”

Franco, an associate of the Genovese crime family also known as “Papa Smurf” and “Uncle Sonny,” pleaded guilty to three separate conspiracy counts. As part of his plea, he acknowledged his membership in a racketeering enterprise that exercised illegal control over waste haulers in the counties of Bergen and Passaic in New Jersey and Westchester, Rockland and Nassau in New York.

He also admitted that he committed mail and wire fraud by overbilling customers of a waste transfer station that he controlled in West Nyack, N.Y. and that he and his associates transported large volumes of stolen cardboard across state lines. Pucciarello, a reputed member of the Genovese crime family, admitted that he was aware that others were conspiring to use extortion to obtain an ownership interest in a business owned by a cooperating witness. He admitted that he failed to report this extortion to authorities and agreed to conceal the percentage of the victim’s business that he would own following the extortion.

Franco has owned or controlled waste-disposal businesses for more than 30 years. Because of convictions in the early 1980s and late 1990s and known associations with organized crime, he was banned from the waste-hauling industry in New Jersey and could not be licensed to operate such businesses in many New York jurisdictions, the indictment said. But, it charged, that didn’t stop Franco from secretly taking control of and operating trash-hauling companies, extorting their owners and orchestrating thefts of their property.

During the four-year investigation, authorities were aided by a cooperating witness whose hauling company was under Franco‘s control and later was taken over by other mob factions.

After wresting control of the company from Franco, a Genovese crew based in Lodi allegedly extorted $500 weekly “protection” payments from the cooperating witness to shield him from other Mafia factions, the indictment said.

Peter Leconte, 42, of Lodi, a reputed Genovese soldier, pleaded guilty on Nov. 15 to conspiring to commit extortion by threatening economic harm if a hauler didn’t turnover a percentage of his company. He faces 20 years in prison when sentenced Apr. 4.



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