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Tuesday, May 21, 2024 | Back issues
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Stevedores Say Unions|Let Mob Run Docks

MANHATTAN (CN) - Mafia-corrupted union bosses threatened to put a stevedore company's boss "in a box" if he didn't cede control of docks to the Longshoremen's union, American Stevedoring claims in court.

American Stevedoring, which used to run Brooklyn's Red Hook Marine Terminal, sued the International Longshoremen's Association, and others, in a federal RICO complaint.

The union defendants include the AFL-CIO, the NYSA-ILA Pension Fund, the Police Port and Guards Union, the NYSA-PPGU and six individuals, including three top officers of the International Longshoremen.

Defendants include Michael Farino, a principal of MTC Transportation, and Joseph Pollio, vice president of ILA Local 1814.

The stevedore company claims that the defendants let a syndicate known as the "Waterfront Group" extort, harass, defraud and embezzle in Red Hook.

American Stevedoring claims it refused to bow to mob pressure and worked with law enforcement.

The Waterfront Group responded with "crippling" financial harm to the stevedore company, which forced it to close up shop in 2011, according to the complaint.

"Many members of the Waterfront Group and/or those organized crime figures associated with it have been indicted and/or convicted of crimes with some of their illegal activities," the complaint states. "In addition, there have been multiple investigations of members of the Waterfront Group and efforts by the federal government to eliminate organized crime's influence over the Waterfront; however, the actions taken against the organization thus far have been ineffective. That ends today."

The 49-page complaint - with 255 pages of attachments - details the history of union-related racketeering prosecutions in federal courts, recently leading to the conviction of longshoreman officer Michael Coppola in 2012.

In 2010, another ILA officer, Albert Cernades, was indicted in an alleged conspiracy to extort "Christmas tributes" from rank-and-file members to pay to organized crime members, according to the complaint.

In its complaint, American Stevedoring cites dozens of other examples of corruption cases in New York City courts.

The stevedores claim that Harold Daggett, the president of the AFL-CIO, is the "captain" of the Waterfront Group.

"Defendant Daggett told American's president, Sabato Catucci ('Sabato'), that he wanted to see Sabato thrown out of the port sector, as he regarded Sabato to be a 'troublemaker' who 'did not know how to give the ILA what it wanted,'" the complaint states.

In August 2011, Daggett started putting pressure on American to leave the docks in favor of a more corruptible Red Hook Container Terminal (RHCT), the stevedores claim.

Sabato, who describes himself as a World War II veteran and self-made businessman, claims that Daggett told two people to threaten to put him "in a box" if he did not agree to stop operating on the terminals.

Those people are defendants Louis Pernice, AFL-CIO vice president, and Farrino, the MTC principal, according to the complaint.

One month after alleged threat, American claims, ILA and PPGU members threatened to strike to coerce it into signing a succession agreement.

"On September 26, 2011, American, faced with the illegal Port-wide strike that threatened to render American insolvent, signed the succession agreement (which Daggett precipitated) and the next day (September 27th), RHCT, LLC took over American's operation at the terminals," the complaint states. (Parentheses in complaint.)

American Stevedoring demands $100 million in punitive damages for RICO violations, and interference with business relations.

It is represented by Michael Hiller, with Weiss & Hiller.

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