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

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Joesph Queli of Wall and Nicholas Bergamotto of Newark plead guilty to shaking down longshoremen

Joseph Queli of Wall and Nicholas Bergamotto of Newark pleaded guilty Friday in connection with a joint investigation by the state Division of Criminal Justice and Waterfront Commission of New York Harbor into alleged extortion of money from dock workers at the Port of New York and New Jersey.
Queli, 65, and Bergamotto, 64, pleaded guilty before state Superior Court Judge Anthony J. Mellaci Jr. in Freehold, state Criminal Justice Director Stephen J. Taylor said. The men were charged in an Oct. 26, 2010 indictment.
Queli pleaded guilty to one count of second-degree conspiracy loansharking and money laundering, and a second count of third-degree filing false tax returns. Under a plea agreement, the state will recommend that he be sentenced to seven years in state prison. Queli also must forfeit $24,260 seized in the investigation.
In pleading guilty, Queli admitted that he made loans at interest rates in excess of 50 percent annually. The investigation revealed that Queli made loans, which is commonly known as loansharking, to members of the International Longshoremen’s Association, and that he or Bergamotto, acting on his behalf, would demand weekly payments from the union members.
Bergamotto pleaded guilty to a charge of third-degree money laundering. The state will recommend that he be sentenced to a term of probation. In pleading guilty, Bergamotto admitted that he collected payments on the loans made by Queli and delivered the money to him.
Queli’s wife, Regina Queli, 62, was indicted with him for allegedly handling criminal proceeds and failing to report them on tax returns. The state has agreed not to take a position regarding her application to the court for Pre-Trial Intervention.
Judge Mellaci scheduled sentencing for the Joseph Queli and Bergamotto for Jan. 27.
Queli and Bergamotto were arrested in April 2010 as a result of Operation Terminal, an ongoing investigation by the Division of Criminal Justice and the Waterfront Commission into the activities of a criminal enterprise that allegedly has exercised control and corrupt influence over ILA locals operating shipping terminals in the port. The criminal operation allegedly was demanding “tribute” from dock workers for better jobs and pay.
Also charged in April 2010 were a top ILA official, Nunzio LaGrasso, another ILA member, and a Newark police officer who is LaGrasso’s nephew. They were indicted on Feb. 8. The charges in that indictment are pending.
LaGrasso, 60, of Florham Park, secretary-treasurer of ILA Local 1478, is charged with extortion and commercial bribery, both in the second degree. LaGrasso is vice president of the Atlantic Coast District of all ILA locals. LaGrasso’s nephew, Newark Police Officer Alan Marfia, 40, of Kenilworth, is charged with second-degree official misconduct for allegedly using his access to police databases to obtain information for LaGrasso on undercover police vehicles that were conducting surveillance near his union office. Rocco Ferrandino, 69, of Lakewood, a timekeeper at Maher Terminal in Port Newark/Elizabeth, is charged with second-degree extortion and second-degree commercial bribery. The indictment is merely an accusation and the defendants are presumed innocent until proven guilty.
The investigation into the activities of the alleged criminal enterprise on the New Jersey waterfront revealed that ILA members working at the shipping terminals are required to make a cash “tribute” payment at Christmas time each year to the enterprise out of the year-end bonuses each ILA member receives called “container royalty checks.”
It is alleged that those payments are funneled to the criminal enterprise through LaGrasso. The payments must be made for union members to receive high-paying jobs, preferred shift assignments and overtime, all as determined under the influence of the criminal enterprise. Each of the thousands of union members allegedly must make a payment that typically ranges from a couple of hundred dollars to a couple of thousand dollars depending on the size of the container royalty check. It is alleged that LaGrasso collected some tribute payments directly, but usually relied on others, such as Ferrandino, to collect them.
Supervising Deputy Attorney General Mark Eliades and Deputy Attorney General Erin Callahan are prosecuting the case.
The Port of New York and New Jersey is the largest port complex on the East Coast. Roughly $200 billion in cargo moves through the port each year. Through the years, the state Division of Criminal Justice and the Waterfront Commission have conducted investigations into the activities of organized crime in and around the port. Past investigations have led to prosecution of union officials and members of the Genovese crime family, which has been found to control or exert significant influence over the ILA and commercial activity at the waterfront. Their criminal activities have included extortion, fencing, commercial bribery, loansharking and gambling.



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