NEWARK – Three North Jersey men today admitted conspiring to conduct or participate in the affairs of the Genovese organized crime family of La Cosa Nostra (the “Genovese family”) through a pattern of racketeering activity, including a conspiracy to extort members of the International Longshoremen’s Association for Christmastime tribute payments, New Jersey U.S. Attorney Paul Fishman and Eastern District of New York U.S. Attorney Loretta Lynch announced.
Stephen Depiro, 59, of Kenilworth, a Genovese family soldier, and two other Genovese family associates – Albert Cernadas, 79, of Union, former president of ILA Local 1235 and former ILA executive vice president; and Nunzio LaGrasso, 64, of Florham Park, former vice president of ILA Local 1478 and ILA representative – pleaded guilty today before U.S. District Judge Claire Cecchi in Newark federal court.
All three pleaded guilty to Count One of the second superseding indictment charging them with racketeering conspiracy. Depiro admitted to predicate acts involving conspiracy to commit extortion and bookmaking. Cernadas and LaGrasso admitted to predicate acts involving conspiracy to commit extortion and multiple extortions.
According to documents filed in this case and statements made in court: Since at least 2005, Depiro has managed the Genovese family’s control over the New Jersey waterfront – including the nearly three-decades-long extortion of port workers in ILA Local 1, ILA Local 1235 and ILA Local 1478.
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 and vice president of ILA Local 1478.
Depiro also controlled a sports betting package that was managed by several others, through the use of an overseas sports betting operation.
During their guilty plea proceedings, Depiro, Cernadas and LaGrasso admitted their involvement in the Genovese family, including conspiring to compel tribute payments from ILA union members, who made the payments based on actual and threatened force, violence and fear.
Cernadas and LaGrasso admitted to carrying out multiple extortions of dock workers. 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.
The racketeering charge to which Depiro, Cernadas and LaGrasso pleaded guilty carries a maximum potential penalty of 20 years in prison and a $250,000 fine.
Sentencing is currently scheduled as follows: Cernadas, Jan. 16; LaGrasso, March 9; and Depiro, March 10.
Fishman and Lynch credited the FBI in New Jersey, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge Aaron 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.