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

Monday, August 5, 2013

Authorities plan to tackle the mob on the waterfront

He called himself the "last of the Marlon Brandos" on the waterfront.

Sabato "Sal" Catucci saw himself in the same light as the star of the classic film "On The Waterfront" which documented the pervasive corruption on the piers.

Catucci was a colorful and powerful figure on the docks, getting around on a customized Harley when he wasn't being driven in a stretch limousine.

While Brando's film character, Terry Malloy, is a dockworker who finds redemption by testifying against a dirty union boss, Catucci's dealings with the mob-busting Waterfront Commission of New York Harbor have often been contemptuous.

American Maritime Services, a long-time steveadore firm operating in both Brooklyn (above) and New Jersey, has hired a Chicago law firm to check for suspected mob activities.

But there's a new sheriff on the waterfront now joining forces with the commission. For the first time in its 60-year history, the commission is outsourcing a monitor to clean up a stevedore company with ties to the Mafia. And more monitors may be on the way.

In a historic settlement with the bi-state agency, American Maritime Services has agreed to hire a Chicago law firm to scrutinize the maintenance company that faced revocation of its waterfront license for hiring a Genovese crime associate convicted of money laundering and other serious violations.

The monitor is part of the Independent Private Sector Inspector General program that has been used to eradicate mob influence in the garment and construction industries, the Fulton Fish Market, waste transfer and has been championed by New York Waterfront Commissioner Ronald Goldstock.

Sal Catucci, CEO of American Stevedoring, located in Red Hook Marine Terminal in Brooklyn.

"It promotes the deterrence, prevention and detection of unethical and illegal conduct," Goldstock told the Daily News.

"The program serves to make a good organization better, or to change the ethical culture of an entity in need of that change.

American Maritime Services (AMS) clearly is in need of the latter change.

Ronald Catucci, treasuer of American Maritime Services and brother of president Sabato "Sal" Catucci. Ronald Catucci signed the agreement with Waterfront Commission to hire the Chicago-based outside monitor.

Catucci, who did not return a call, crumpled up a subpoena and threw it back in the face of a Waterfront cop in the 1990s in his Red Hook, Brooklyn, office, a source said.

Another time he ripped up his temporary waterfront license and mailed it back to the commission in pieces, the source added. "I guess it was to show his contempt for the commission," the source said.

In 2004 a Brooklyn federal prosecutor alleged at the sentencing for tax evasion of longtime AMS official Joseph Perez that Catucci and his brother Ronald had participated in a scheme to divide control of the New York and New Jersey waterfront between the Genovese and Gambino crime families.

Joseph Corcoran, AMS' lawyer, dismissed that contention. "Allegations are only allegations and that allegation was never proven in a court of law," Corcoran said, declining any further comment on the Catuccis or the monitor issue.

Joseph Perez, was director of operations and sales for AMS, is a convicted tax cheat who hired Genovese mob associate Robert Santoro to work at AMS.

During a 2010 public hearing, Catucci blasted the commission for giving waterfront operators a bad name.

"I didn't come in here with a black shirt today because I didn't feel that I wanted to be stereotyped by the Waterfront Commission," he said, according to a transcript. "I think you guys do a good job in some things, but you're not helping us as you should be helping us.

"I go to a bank for a letter of credit for a loan or anything, as soon as you hear 'waterfront' right away the people at the bank don't want to talk to you because you put things in the paper…"

Robert Santoro, Genovese crime family associate, worked at AMS after serving jail sentence for laundering millions of dollars stolen from the MTA.

Meanwhile, the commission had learned that Perez, as director of operations and sales for AMS. was hiring some sketchy employees.

One of the charges that threatened to sink AMS was Perez's hiring of Robert Santoro in 2008 after he served a 6-year-sentence for laundering $7 million stolen from the Metropolitan Transportation Authority. Santoro once owned the largest check cashing business in New Jersey and associated with Genovese capo Salvatore "Sammy Meatballs" Aparo.

Santoro worked at a company doing business as Integrated Industries Corp., which shares the same owners and addresses as AMS, according to commission documents.

Perez, also described by the federal prosecutor as a longtime organized crime associate, also hired a union official convicted of corruption to work on the docks even though he lacked a license.

With an application pending for a permanent license, AMS opted not to fight the charges and agreed to hire at its own expense the Chicago law firm of Pugh, Jones & Johnson, which was one of three candidates pre-qualified by the commission.

For at least the next two years, the law firm will be looking under AMS' skirt and reporting its findings back to the commission. Closing down AMS would put an estimated 100 employees on the New Jersey waterfront out of work.

"We're both protecting the port from organized crime as well as maintaining jobs," said the commission's executive director, Walter Arsenault. "This (monitor) is a way to make sure both ends of the spectrum are protected."

The Catuccis did not return calls seeking comment.



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