Twelve members of three New York crime families have been charged with racketeering conspiracy in the waste industry after multi-year investigation.
"The indictments show the ongoing threat posed by mob families and their criminal associates. In addition to the violence that often accompanies their schemes, the economic impact amounts to a mob tax on goods and services," explained FBI Assistant Director-in-Charge George C. Venizelos.
In total charges have been made against 32 individuals as part of an investigation into organized crime's alleged continuing control of large aspects of the commercial waste-hauling industry in the greater New York City metropolitan area and in parts of New Jersey.
According to the U.S. Department of Justice, the main Indictment charges 12 defendants under the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO) for conspiring to participate in a racketeering enterprise that asserted illegal and extortionate control over commercial waste hauling companies.
A further 17 defendants are facing charges of individual acts of extortion, loan sharking, and other crimes associated with those activities.
The charges are contained in three Indictments, United States v. Franco, et al., United States v. Giustra, et al., and United States v. Lopez.
The Department said that thirty of the defendants have been arrested in connection with the charges, and will be presented and arraigned in Manhattan federal court before U.S. Magistrate Judge Kevin N. Fox. Two further defendants, Dominick Pietranico and Pasquale P. Cartalemi are expected to surrender shortly.
Manhattan U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara said: "Here, as described in the indictments, organized crime insinuated itself into the waste disposal industry throughout a vast swath of counties in New York and New Jersey, and the tactics they used to exert and maintain their control come right out of the mafia playbook - extortion, intimidation, and threats of violence.
According to Bharara, while the accused mobsters may have hidden themselves behind seemingly legitimate owners of waste disposal businesses, law enforcement was able to pierce that veil through a painstaking, multi-year investigation.
"Organized crime has many victims - in this case small business owners who pay for waste removal, potential competitors, and the communities infected by this corruption and its cost," he added.
The Department of Justice said that the following allegations are based on the Indictments and statements made in Manhattan federal court:
Twelve of the defendants, who are members and associates of three different Organized Crime Families of La Cosa Nostra (LCN) - the Genovese, Gambino and Luchese Crime Families - are charged with participating in a RICO enterprise in which they worked together to control various waste disposal businesses in the New York City metropolitan area and multiple counties in New Jersey.
This criminal waste disposal enterprise was an illegal organization, the members of which engaged in crimes including extortion, loan sharking, mail and wire fraud, and stolen property offenses.
The members of the enterprise avoided any official connection to the waste disposal businesses they controlled, because they were either officially banned from the waste hauling industry, or unlikely to be granted the necessary licenses required to do business in the waste hauling industry due to their affiliations with organized crime.
Accordingly, enterprise members concealed themselves behind waste disposal businesses that were officially owned and operated by non-Enterprise members (controlled owners), who were able to obtain the necessary licenses because they had no known affiliations with organized crime.
Ultimately, the members of the enterprise exerted control over these waste disposal businesses by, among other things, dictating which trash pick-up stops a particular hauling company could use and extorting payments in exchange for protection by individuals associated with organized crime.
By asserting and enforcing purported 'property rights' over the trash pick-up routes, the Enterprise members excluded any competitor that might offer lower prices or better service, in effect imposing a criminal tax on businesses and communities.
Separately, some of the controlled owners were also committing crimes, including stealing property of competing waste disposal businesses and defrauding businesses of their customers.
The operation of the Waste Disposal Enterprise was coordinated by and among factions of the LCN families through the use of 'sit-downs' to determine which faction would control a particular waste disposal company and established the financial terms upon which control of that company could be transferred from one faction to another in return for payment.
During the time period alleged in the Indictment, enterprise members extorted a controlled owner, who, unknown to them, was a cooperating witness (CW). The CW incorporated a waste removal company (CW Company) that ultimately was controlled by a number of different factions of the enterprise.
At various times, the CW Company was under the control of Carmine Franco, a Genovese Crime Family associate who was banned by New Jersey authorities from maintaining any involvement in the waste hauling business in that state due to prior criminal convictions.
A Genovese Crime Family crew based principally in Lodi, New Jersey (Lodi Crew), which included Genovese Family soldiers subsequently wrested control of the CW's waste company from Franco and further extorted the CW for weekly payments for 'protection' from other LCN factions.
In addition, at various times, a different faction of the Genovese Crime Family - led by Genovese soldiers and a Gambino Crime Family crew controlled the CW's waste hauling company.
In addition to the 12 defendants charged as members of the waste disposal enterprise, 17 of the defendants are charged with carrying out various illegal activities in relation to the waste hauling industry.
These illegal activities include: extortion, mail and wire fraud conspiracy, and interstate transportation of stolen property.
The Department of Justice also noted that the charges contained in the Indictments are merely accusations, and the defendants are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.
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