Federal prosecutors indicted 29 people in an alleged organized-crime conspiracy to control commercial-waste disposal businesses in New York and New Jersey using intimidation, extortion and violence.
Manhattan U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara accused 12 people of running a racketeering scheme to control waste-hauling companies in both states while 17 others were charged with extortion, loansharking, mail and wire fraud. Three more were charged separately with interstate transportation of stolen property. The defendants are scheduled to be arraigned later today in Manhattan federal court, Bharara’s office said.
Prosecutors said a dozen of the defendants were members and associates of the Genovese, Gambino and Lucchese crime families who had been previously banned from the waste industry and unlikely to be granted the necessary licenses because of their criminal affiliations. The defendants concealed their identities and obtained the licenses by using waste disposal businesses that were officially owned and operated by others.
“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,” Bharara said in a statement.
Prosecutors said the defendants controlled waste disposal and carting businesses in the New York City area, as well as in Westchester, Rockland and Nassau counties and New Jersey’s Bergen and Passaic counties.
The defendants allegedly dictated which trash pick-up spots a particular hauling company could use and extorted cash payments in exchange for protection by organized crime associates, prosecutors said.
The participants in the scheme were able to assert “property rights” over trash pick-up routes and exclude competitors who may attempt to underbid them or provide better service, resulting in a “criminal tax” upon businesses and communities, the U.S. said.
Thirty of the defendants were arrested this morning without incident by agents of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, said Peter Donald, a spokesman for the FBI’s New York office. Two other defendants will surrender later this week, Bharara’s office said.
“The indictments show the ongoing threat posed by mob families and their criminal associates,” said George Venizelos, head of the FBI’s New York office. “In addition to the violence that often accompanies their schemes, the economic impact amounts to a mob tax on goods and services. The arrests -- the culmination of a long and thorough investigation -- also show the ongoing determination of the FBI to diminishing the influence of La Cosa Nostra.”
The 12 charged with racketeering face as long as 20 years in prison if convicted. Four men charged with mail and wire fraud faces as long as 30 years if convicted while those charged with extortion faces as long as 20 years in prison.
The cases are U.S. v. Franco, 13-cr-015, U.S. v. Giustra, 13-CR-014, U.S. v. Lopez, 13-cr-015, U.S. District Court, Southern District of New York (Manhattan).