Sunday, December 21, 2014
Mobsters and the Christmas Spirit
Three New Jersey men pleaded guilty in a Newark federal court last week to shaking down longshoremen for Christmas "tributes" and then turning the money over to the Genovese crime family.
Two had been officers of the longshoremen union chapters. The third was described as a Genovese soldier in charge of the New Jersey waterfront.
Longshoremen in New Jersey receive Christmas bonuses based on port traffic levels. Prosecutors said the longshoremen were expected to hand over the bonuses or face threats, and sometimes the reality, of violence. It's pretty creepy when a union's officers facilitate the extortion of money from its members.
The practice apparently dated to the early 1980s.
Three other of the union's leaders pleaded guilty a week earlier to the same racketeering charges and were sentenced to 18, 20 and 22 months in prison respectively.
Seems pretty light to me, even if the three agreed to become witnesses in federal prosecutions. Who knows?
We all remember The Sopranos, a much heralded television series about mafia members in the state of New Jersey. It ran from 1999 to 2007, and that was the end of it.
But not the end of made men in the state. The plea deals above are among the results of a 2011 federal indictment alleging 103 Genovese crimes ranging from murder to theft to a variety of extortion schemes over many years.
Sometimes life does imitate art. A famous movie that I have never seen, On the Waterfront, was set against the background of port corruption in New Jersey in 1954.