- Attorney General Paula T. Dow, Criminal
Justice Director Stephen J. Taylor and New
Jersey Commissioner Barry H. Evenchick of
the Waterfront Commission of New York Harbor
announced the arrest today of a top official
of the International Longshoremen’s
Association (ILA) and three current or former
ILA members on charges that they extorted
money from dock workers by demanding “tribute”
for better jobs and pay, or engaged in loansharking.
A Newark police officer was also arrested.
arrests stem from Operation Terminal, an
ongoing investigation by the New Jersey
Division of Criminal Justice and the Waterfront
Commission of New York Harbor into the activities
of a criminal enterprise that allegedly
has exercised control and corrupt influence
over ILA locals operating shipping terminals
at the Port of New York and New Jersey.
this morning, detectives from the two agencies
arrested Nunzio LaGrasso, 59, of Florham
Park, Secretary-Treasurer of ILA Local #1478,
on second-degree charges of extortion and
commercial bribery. LaGrasso is Vice President
of the Atlantic Coast District of all ILA
arrested was LaGrasso’s nephew, Newark
Police Officer Alan Marfia, 38, of Kenilworth.
Marfia 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. Three other men were arrested
on charges including extortion, commercial
bribery, loansharking and money laundering.
investigation revealed that longshoremen
were between a rock and a hard place when
it came to paying tribute to these alleged
criminals,” said Attorney General
Dow. “They could either pay up or
they could forget about better assignments,
higher pay and overtime. We charge that
LaGrasso, as a top union official, was at
the center of this scheme.”
arrests are another step in the continuing
battle to rid the Port of organized criminal
activity,” said Commissioner Evenchick.
“The Waterfront Commission is committed
to working with its law enforcement partners
through both criminal and administrative
actions to rid the harbor of those who prey
on hardworking dockworkers. It is particularly
egregious when a union official preys upon
those he is legally bound to represent and
protect. Such conduct will be vigorously
investigated and prosecuted.”
decades, the Division of Criminal Justice
has stood shoulder to shoulder with the
Waterfront Commission, working steadfastly
to rid the waterfront of criminal influence,”
said Director Taylor. “We will continue
to identify and prosecute any union officials
and any members or associates of criminal
organizations who are corruptly controlling
commercial activities at the port. We will
get them off of the docks and into prison
where they belong.”
investigation into the activities of the
alleged criminal enterprise at 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
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.
is alleged that LaGrasso collected some
tribute payments directly, but usually relied
on others to collect them. One of those
alleged accomplices, Rocco Ferrandino, 68,
of Lakewood, a timekeeper at Maher Terminal
in Port Newark/Elizabeth, was among those
arrested today. Like LaGrasso, he is charged
with second-degree extortion and second-degree
other men arrested today and charged as
part of the criminal enterprise are Joseph
Queli, 63, of Wall, and Nicholas Bergamotto,
63, of Newark. Each of them is charged with
second-degree criminal usury, commonly called
loansharking, and third-degree money laundering.
is alleged that Queli made loans to ILA
members at usurious interest rates, ranging
from 78 to 156 percent per year. Queli or
Bergamotto, acting on his behalf, would
allegedly demand weekly payments from the
union members of 1 ½ to 3 percent
interest on the loan amount. Bergamotto
allegedly gave the money he collected on
such loans to Queli.
five defendants were arrested without incident
at various locations through the state.
They were lodged in the Hudson County Jail.
Superior Court Judge Kevin G. Callahan in
Hudson County set bail at $75,000 cash for
each man, with the exception of Queli, whose
bail was set at $100,000 cash.
General Dow and Commissioner Evenchick credited
all of the detectives, attorneys and officers
who worked on the investigation for the
Division of Criminal Justice Gangs &
Organized Crime Bureau and the Waterfront
Commission of New York Harbor. They also
thanked Newark Police Director Garry McCarthy
for the valuable assistance of his department.
crimes carry a maximum sentence of 10 years
in state prison and a $150,000 fine, while
third-degree crimes carry a maximum sentence
of five years in prison and a $15,000 fine.
The criminal complaints are merely accusations
and the defendants are presumed innocent
until proven guilty. Because indictable
offenses are charged, the allegations will
be presented to a grand jury for potential
Port of New York and New Jersey is the largest
port complex located on the East Coast of
North America. Roughly $200 billion in cargo
moves through the port each year.
the years, the New Jersey 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.
earlier investigation by the Division of
Criminal Justice and the Waterfront Commission
from 2003 to 2004 led to the successful
prosecution of Genovese crime family members
who illegally controlled several terminals
within the Port of New York and New Jersey
and extracted payments from ILA members
for work assignments.