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Thursday, January 17, 2013

Feds charge 32 New York and New Jersey waste removal company executives with racketeering conspiracy, extortion and pandering to cliched stereotypes

Feds charge 32 alleged Mafia-connected people with controlling portions of area trash-hauling industry

In 1998, Carmine Franco agreed to be barred from the trash removal business in New Jersey after being charged four years earlier with helping to defraud the state and Bergen County out of millions of dollars by shipping garbage to out-of-state landfills.
But according to federal prosecutors in New York, Franco — long said to have strong ties to area organized crime — never completely left the business.
Franco, 77, of Ramsey, is the first defendant named in a 35-page indictment unsealed in federal court in Manhattan yesterday that alleges he and 28 other defendants used threats of physical violence and economic harm to control key aspects of the private waste-hauling industry in swaths of both New Jersey and New York for years.
In all, federal authorities said, 30 people were arrested yesterday in New York and New Jersey in connection with charges outlined in three unsealed indictments, all three of which center on Mafia-related crimes. Two other defendants, also charged, are expected to surrender this week, authorities said.
Ten of the 32 defendants charged live in Bergen, Essex, Hudson, Morris, Passaic, Sussex and Warren counties and range in age from 38 to 77.
Among the 32 defendants, 12 were charged with racketeering conspiracy. Seventeen others were charged with carrying out various illegal activities in relation to the waste hauling industry. Those illegal activities including extortion, mail and wire fraud conspiracy, and interstate transportation of stolen property.
Three other defendants were charged with crimes that included trafficking in contraband cigarettes, narcotics conspiracy and being a felon with a firearm.
In the indictment brought against Franco and others, which reads at times like a television script from "The Sopranos," authorities allege that threats and extortion were levied by members and associates of three New York-area mob families: the Genoveses, Gambinos and Lucheses.
The Mafia soldiers and associates, and others who worked for them, authorities allege, ran a racketeering enterprise that often dictated which trash pickup stops a hauling company could make, including in multiple counties in New Jersey.
In addition, the ongoing extortion included taking payments from businesses in exchange for protection along trash-hauling routes, even as other crimes were carried out such as stealing property of competing waste disposal businesses and defrauding their customers.
Franco, for instance, is alleged to have helped direct the stealing of garbage containers from rival waste-hauling companies in New York. The containers were then changed to look they were from a company he controlled, authorities said, before being sent across state lines to New Jersey.
Authorities also allege the criminal operations were coordinated by and among factions of the crime families through the use of "sit-downs." At those meetings, authorities said, the families would determine which faction would control a particular waste-disposal company — and they would establish the financial terms upon which control of the company could be transferred from one faction.
"Organized crime still wraps its tentacles around industries it has fed off for decades, but law enforcement continues to pry loose its grip," said Preet Bharara, the U.S. attorney for the Southern District of New York in a statement. "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."
He added, "And while these accused mobsters may have hidden themselves behind seemingly legitimate owners of waste disposal businesses, law enforcement was able to pierce that veil." Bharara also noted the many victims in the case, including small businesses, competing companies and the affected communities.
Authorities said that yesterday’s takedown is the result of a multiyear investigation that was helped by the work of an undisclosed uncover informant who had set up a trash removal company that various organized crime factions controlled at different times.

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