- Attorney General Paula T. Dow and Criminal
Justice Director Stephen J. Taylor announced
that two men pleaded guilty today in connection
with a joint investigation by the Division
of Criminal Justice and Waterfront Commission
of New York Harbor into alleged extortion
of money from dock workers at the Port of
New York and New Jersey.
to Director Taylor, Joseph Queli, 65, of
Wall, and Nicholas Bergamotto, 64, of Newark,
pleaded guilty today before Superior Court
Judge Anthony J. Mellaci Jr. in Monmouth
County. The two men were charged in an Oct.
26, 2010 indictment.
pleaded guilty to one count of second-degree
conspiracy to commit criminal usury and
money laundering, and a second count of
third-degree filing false tax returns. Under
the plea agreement, the state will recommend
that he be sentenced to seven years in state
prison. Queli must forfeit $24,260 seized
in the investigation. In pleading guilty,
Queli admitted that he made loans at usurious
interest rates in excess of 50 percent per
year. The investigation revealed that Queli
made usurious loans, which is commonly known
as loansharking, to members of the International
Longshoremen’s Association, and that
he or Bergamotto, acting on his behalf,
would demand weekly payments from the union
pleaded guilty today to a charge of third-degree
money laundering. The state will recommend
that he be sentenced to a term of probation.
In pleading guilty, Bergamotto admitted
that he collected payments on the usurious
loans made by Queli and delivered the money
wife, Regina Queli, 62, was indicted with
him for allegedly handling criminal proceeds
and failing to report them on tax returns.
The state has agreed not to take a position
regarding her application to the court for
Deputy Attorney General Mark Eliades, Chief
of the Division of Criminal Justice Gangs
& Organized Crime Bureau, and Deputy
Attorney General Erin Callahan are prosecuting
the case and took the guilty pleas today.
Judge Mellaci scheduled sentencing for the
two men for Jan. 27, 2012.
and Bergamotto 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 in April 2010 were a top ILA
official, Nunzio LaGrasso, another ILA member,
and a Newark police officer who is LaGrasso’s
nephew. They were indicted on Feb. 8, 2011.
The charges in that indictment are pending.
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, 40, 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,
69, of Lakewood, a timekeeper at Maher Terminal
in Port Newark/Elizabeth, was charged with
second-degree extortion and second-degree
commercial bribery. The indictment is merely
an accusation and the defendants are presumed
innocent until proven guilty.
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 Eliades and Deputy
Attorney General Callahan presented the
indictments to the state grand juries for
the Division of Criminal Justice Gangs &
Organized Crime Bureau. Attorney General
Dow and Commissioner Jan Gilhooly of the
Waterfront Commission of New York Harbor
credited all of the detectives, attorneys
and officers who worked on the investigation
for the Division of Criminal Justice and
Waterfront Commission. They also thanked
the Newark Police Department for its valuable
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.