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

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Former union official is sentenced to 20 months in prison for extortion scheme

A former delegate of a longshoremen's union was sentenced Wednesday to 20 months in prison for extortion of Christmastime tribute payments, according to a statement from New Jersey U.S. Attorney Paul J. Fishman and Eastern District of New York U.S. Attorney Loretta E. Lynch.
Robert Ruiz, 55, of Watchung, a delegate of the International Longshoremen's Association Local 1235 from 2007 through 2010, pleaded guilty in May on one count of conspiracy to extort Christmas tributes from ILA Local 1235 members, the statement said.
Judge Claire C. Cecchi imposed the sentence in Newark federal court, additionally sentencing Ruiz to two years of supervised release, the statement said.
Ruiz and two other former ILA officers — Vincent Aulisi, 82, of West Orange, president of Local 1235 from 2006 through 2007, and Thomas Leonardis, 57, of Glen Gardner, president of the union from 2008 through 2011 — admitted their conspiracy to force tribute payments from ILA union members with actual and threatened force, violence and fear, the statement said.
The extortions typically happened at the same time members received "Container Royalty Fund" checks as a year-end compensation, the statement said.
Ruiz and Leonardis were suspended from their union positions after their January 2011 arrests, but Aulisi had already retired from the New Jersey piers by the time of his arrest, the statement said.
Aulisi was sentenced to 18 months in prison on October, 2014, while Leonardis still awaits sentencing, the statement said.
Three additional defendants named in the indictment have charges still pending, including a racketeering conspiracy charge against Stephen Depiro, 59 of Kenilworth, a soldier in the Genovese organized crime family of La Cosa Nostra, the statement said.
Depiro since at least 2005 has managed the Genovese family's control over the New Jersey waterfront, including nearly 30 years of extortion of port workers in multiple union locals, the statement said.
Depiro and other members of the Genovese family are charged with conspiring to collect tribute payments from New Jersey port workers each Christmas through corrupt influence over union officials, including the last three presidents of Local 1235, the statement said.
Albert Cernadas, 79, of Union, president of ILA Local 1235 from 1981 to 2006 and former ILA executive vice president, and Nunzio LaGrasso, 63, of Florham Park, former vice president of ILA Local 1478 and former ILA representative, both associates of the Genovese family, are also charged in the case, the statement said.
U.S. Attorneys Fishman and Lynch credited the FBI in New Jersey, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge Aaron T. Ford, and in New York, under the direction of Assistant Director in Charge George Venizelos, the U.S. Department of Labor, Office of Inspector General, Office of Labor Racketeering and Fraud Investigations, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge Cheryl Garcia of the New York Regional Office, with the investigation, the statement said.
The government was represented by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Anthony Mahajan of the U.S. Attorney’s Office, District of New Jersey, and Jacquelyn M. Kasulis of the U.S. Attorney’s Office, Eastern District of New York, the statement said.
Defense counsel was Marc Agnifilo of New York, the statement said.



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