- Attorney General Paula T. Dow, Criminal
Justice Director Stephen J. Taylor and Commissioner
Ronald Goldstock of the Waterfront Commission
of New York Harbor today announced the indictment
of two men on charges of loansharking and
money laundering in connection with a joint
investigation into alleged extortion of
money from dock workers at the Port of New
York and New Jersey.
to Director Taylor, Joseph Queli, 64, of
Wall, and Nicholas Bergamotto, 63, of Newark,
were charged with loansharking and money
laundering in a state grand jury indictment
obtained by the Division of Criminal Justice
Gangs & Organized Crime Bureau. Queli’s
wife, Regina Queli, 62, was indicted with
him on charges of money laundering and tax
evasion for allegedly handling criminal
proceeds and failing to report them on tax
two men were initially arrested and charged
in April 2010 as a result of Operation Terminal,
an ongoing investigation by the 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 International Longshoremen’s
Association (ILA) locals operating shipping
terminals at the Port. The criminal enterprise
allegedly was demanding “tribute”
from dock workers for better jobs and pay.
Also charged last April were a top ILA official,
Nunzio LaGrasso, another ILA member, and
a Newark police officer who is LaGrasso’s
indictment announced today was returned
by the state grand jury on Oct. 26, 2010,
but sealed by the court until today because
of the ongoing investigation.
is alleged that as part of the criminal
enterprise operating at the Port, 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.
allegedly gave the money he collected on
such loans to Queli. Queli is charged in
the indictment with theft by extortion because
he allegedly threatened bodily injury to
one man if he did not make his loan payments.
nine-count indictment charges Queli and
Bergamotto with conspiracy (2nd degree),
criminal usury, commonly known as loansharking
(2nd degree), and money laundering (2nd
degree). Queli is charged in separate counts
with theft by extortion (2nd degree) and
conspiracy (2nd degree). Joseph and Regina
Queli are named in additional counts charging
them with conspiracy (2nd degree), money
laundering (2nd degree), filing false tax
returns (3rd degree), and failure to pay
taxes (3rd degree). The tax charges relate
to calendar years 2005 through 2009.
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 indictment is merely an accusation and
the defendants are presumed innocent until
proven guilty. The indictment was handed
up to Superior Court Judge Linda R. Feinberg,
who assigned the case to Monmouth County.
It is posted with this release at www.njpublicsafety.com.
charges filed in April 2009 against the
other defendants are pending. LaGrasso,
60, of Florham Park, Secretary-Treasurer
of ILA Local #1478, was 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, 39, of Kenilworth, was 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,
68, of Lakewood, a timekeeper at Maher Terminal
in Port Newark/Elizabeth, was charged with
second-degree extortion and second-degree
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. It is alleged
that LaGrasso collected some tribute payments
directly, but usually relied on others,
such as Ferrandino, to collect them.
Deputy Attorney General Mark Eliades, Chief
of the Division of Criminal Justice Gangs
& Organized Crime Bureau, and Deputy
Attorney General Erin Callahan presented
the case to the state grand jury. Attorney
General Dow and Commissioner Goldstock credited
all of the detectives, attorneys and officers
who worked on the investigation for the
Division of Criminal Justice and the Waterfront
Commission. They also thanked Newark Police
Director Garry McCarthy for the valuable
assistance of his department.
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. Through
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.