EDISON — A former longshoreman from the township and two cohorts have admitted to conspiracy to extort money from union members.
Salvatore LaGrasso, 58, of Edison; Michael Nicolosi, 45, of Staten Island, N.Y.; and Julio Porrao, 71, of Palm Coast, Fla., all former supervisors of the New Jersey piers, pleaded guilty May 22 to having extorted others in Local 1235 of the International Longshoremen’s Association (ILA) for Christmastime tribute payments, according to U.S. Attorney Paul J. Fishman and Eastern District of New York U.S. Attorney Loretta E. Lynch.
As LaGrasso, Nicolosi and Porrao entered their guilty pleas before U.S. District Judge Claire C. Cecchi in Newark federal court, the men acknowledged conspiring with one another and others to compel tribute payments from ILA union members who made the payments based on actual and threatened force, violence and fear, according to authorities.
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.
LaGrasso and Nicolosi were suspended from their positions after their arrests in this case. Porrao had already retired from his employment on the New Jersey piers at the time of his arrest, authorities said.
Charges are still pending against five defendants in the superseding indictment, including a racketeering conspiracy charge against Stephen Depiro, 58, of Kenilworth, a soldier in the Genovese organized crime family of La Cosa Nostra, according to authorities. 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, authorities said.
Members of the Genovese family, including Depiro, are charged with conspiring to collect tributes from New Jersey port workers at Christmastime each year through their influence over union officials, including the last three presidents of Local 1235, authorities said.
LaGrasso, Nicolosi, and Porrao face a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison and a $250,000 fine for the charge, to which they pleaded guilty. Sentencing for LaGrasso and Nicolosi is set for Sept. 17, and Porrao is to be sentenced Sept. 24.