Former Longshoremen Plead Guilty to Extortion Conspiracy Involving Christmastime Tribute Payments
NEWARK—Two former longshoremen admitted today that they conspired to extort others in Local 1 and Local 1235 of the International Longshoremen’s Association (ILA) for Christmastime tribute payments, and an associate of the Genovese organized crime family charged in the same case admitted running an illegal sports betting operation.
New Jersey U.S. Attorney Paul J. Fishman and Eastern District of New York U.S. Attorney Loretta E. Lynch announced the guilty pleas.
Rocco Ferrandino, 71, of Lakewood, New Jersey, and Michael Trueba, 78, of Kearny, New Jersey—both former supervisors on the New Jersey piers—pleaded guilty to conspiring to extort Christmastime tributes from the union members, count three of the second superseding indictment against them. Richard Dehmer, 78, of Springfield, New Jersey, an associate of the Genovese organized crime family of La Cosa Nostra, also pleaded guilty today to conspiring to operate and operating an illegal sports betting operation with others. Ferrandino, Trueba, and Dehmer entered their guilty pleas before U.S. District Judge Claire C. Cecchi in Newark federal court.
According to documents filed in this case and statements made in court:
During their guilty pleas, Ferrandino and Trueba admitted they conspired with each other and others to compel tribute payments from ILA union members, who made the payments based on actual and threatened force, violence, and fear. The timing of the extortions typically coincided with the receipt by certain ILA members of “Container Royalty Fund” checks, a form of year-end compensation. Ferrandino, the former head timekeeper at Maher Terminals, and Trueba, the former vice president of ILA Local 1235, were suspended from their positions following their arrests in this case.
Charges are still pending against three defendants in the superseding indictment, including a racketeering conspiracy charge against Stephen Depiro, 58, of Kenilworth, New Jersey, a soldier in the Genovese family. Members of the Genovese family, including Depiro, are charged with conspiring to collect tribute payments from New Jersey port workers at Christmastime each year through their corrupt influence over union officials, including the last three presidents of Local 1235.
The charge to which Ferrandino and Trueba pleaded guilty carries a maximum potential penalty of 20 years in prison and a $250,000 fine. The charges to which Dehmer pleaded guilty carry a maximum potential penalty of five years in prison and a $250,000 fine. Sentencing is currently scheduled for September 23, 24, and 30, 2014, for Dehmer, Ferrandino and Trueba, respectively.
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, as well as the U.S. Department of Labor, Office of Inspector General, Office of Labor Racketeering and Fraud Investigations, under the direction of Acting Special Agent in Charge Cheryl Garcia, with the investigation leading to today’s guilty pleas. They also thanked the Waterfront Commission of New York Harbor for its cooperation and assistance in the investigation.
The government is represented by Assistant U.S. Attorney Jacquelyn M. Kasulis of the U.S. Attorney’s Office, Eastern District of New York, and Assistant U.S. Attorney Anthony Mahajan, of the U.S. Attorney’s Office, District of New Jersey.
The charges and allegations against Depiro and the other remaining defendants are merely accusations, and they are considered innocent unless and until proven guilty.