NEWARK – Rocco Ferrandino, 71, of Lakewood was one of two former longshoremen who admitted Wednesday that they conspired to extort Christmas tribute payments from their brethren in Local 1 and Local 1235 of the International Longshoremen’s Association, according to the U.S. attorney for New Jersey.
An associate of the Genovese organized crime family charged in the same case admitted to running an illegal sports-betting operation, according to U.S. Attorney Paul J. Fishman.
During their guilty pleas, Ferrandino and Michael Trueba, 78, of Kearny — both former supervisors on the New Jersey piers — admitted they conspired with each other and others to compel tribute payments from union members, who made the payments based on actual and threatened force, violence and fear, according to case documents and court statements.
The timing of the extortion typically coincided with certain union members getting “container royalty fund” checks, prosecutors said. Ferrandino, the former head timekeeper at Maher Terminals, and Trueba, the former vice president of Local 1235, were suspended from their positions following their arrests, according to court documents.
Richard Dehmer, 78, of Springfield, an associate of the Genovese organized crime family, also pleaded guilty to conspiring to operate and operating an illegal sports betting operation with others. Ferrandino, Trueba and Dehmer entered guilty pleas before U.S. District Judge Claire C. Cecchi in federal court in Newark.
Charges still are pending against three defendants in the superseding indictment, including a racketeering conspiracy charge against Stephen Depiro, 58, of Kenilworth, a soldier in the Genovese family. 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, court documents said.
The charge to which Ferrandino and Trueba pleaded guilty carries a maximum potential penalty of 20 years in prison and a $250,000 fine. The charges to which Dehmer pleaded guilty carry a maximum potential penalty of five years in prison and a $250,000 fine. Sentencing is scheduled for Sept. 23, 24 and 30, for Dehmer, Ferrandino and Trueba, respectively, Fishman said.