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

Sunday, June 10, 2018

Federal judge blocks New Jersey from leaving Waterfront Commission

In one of his final acts as governor of New Jersey, Chris Christie signed what appeared to be a death warrant for an agency that has policed the ports around New York Harbor for 65 years. But that execution was stayed late last week.
On Friday evening, a federal judge in Newark temporarily barred Mr. Christie’s successor, Philip D. Murphy, from withdrawing the state’s support for the agency, the Waterfront Commission of New York Harbor. The judge, Susan D. Wigenton, determined that it was in the public interest for the commission to continue trying to keep organized crime off the docks and issued a preliminary injunction.
When the commission was formed by a compact between New Jersey and New York in 1953, there was no question about mob influence in the ports. A series of articles on the subject in the New York Sun yielded an Oscar-winning film, “On the Waterfront,” that helped make a star of Marlon Brando.
But in recent years, lawmakers in Trenton have argued that the commission does more harm than good by impeding hiring and limiting the economic impact of the shipping industry. The Democratic-controlled State Legislature repeatedly passed a bill that would effectively end the agreement with New York, but they could not get it past Mr. Christie, a Republican.
The former governor vetoed the bill in 2010, saying that it would be unconstitutional for New Jersey to unilaterally break a two-state compact that had been endorsed by Congress. But just before leaving office in January, Mr. Christie signed the 2017 version of the bill without explaining his turnabout.
The Waterfront Commission immediately sued, naming Mr. Murphy, a Democrat, as a defendant in a federal lawsuit on his first day in office. The commission’s executive director, Walter Arsenault, argued that New Jersey’s withdrawal would cripple the commission, which relies on a tax on every container of cargo that moves through the ports.
As recently as 2014, dockworkers’ union officials pleaded guilty to extorting money from their own members on behalf of the Genovese crime family, Mr. Arsenault said in an affidavit in the case.
Judge Wigenton wrote that “allowing one state to dictate the manner and terms of the commission’s dissolution, and the subsequent distribution of the agency’s assets” would run counter to the terms of the compact. She noted that New York officials have remained silent on the matter.
Michael A. Cardozo, a partner with the Proskauer law firm in Manhattan, which represents the commission, said that New Jersey could appeal the injunction. But, he said, Judge Wigenton had indicated that she did not accept any of the state’s arguments for the legislation. “What else is left to litigate?” Mr. Cardozo said.
Leon Sokol, a lawyer representing the New Jersey Senate and Assembly, which joined the case as defendants, said his clients were still studying the ruling and exploring their options. He said they would await a decision from the office of the state’s attorney general. A spokesman said the attorney general’s office was reviewing its options.



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