Eight People Charged With Cargo Theft In Million-Dollar Cigarette Heist
December 19, 2012
Eight people were charged today in connection with a conspiracy to steal $1 million worth of cigarettes, the result of two undercover sting operations conducted by the FBI, U.S. Attorney Paul J. Fishman announced.
The defendants are charged with conspiracy to commit cargo theft and conspiracy to transport stolen property in interstate commerce in a Complaint unsealed this morning in conjunction with arrests in the case. A ninth defendant was charged by separate Complaint with distribution of cocaine. The charges stem from two undercover stings operations conducted by the FBI with the assistance of other law enforcement agencies including the Waterfront Commission of New York Harbor.
According to documents filed in this case and statements made in court:
In both Complaints, an individual referred to as Cooperating Witness One (“CW One”), assisted the FBI over multiple years. CW One surreptitiously wore a recording device and consensually recorded conversations with various people. CW One assisted federal agents in multiple districts by providing material information, intelligence, and evidence concerning members and associates of La Cosa Nostra and their criminal activities.
On Jan. 27, 2010, CW One and defendant Guido attended a funeral in New York. During this funeral, CW One engaged in a consensually recorded conversation with Guido. Guido asked if CW One was aware of any warehouses that they could rob and said he was interested in stealing perfume, cigarettes and pharmaceuticals.
Under the direction and supervision of the FBI, CW One participated in a sting operation in which the defendants conspired and did steal a tractor-trailer loaded with 270 cases of counterfeit Pall Mall and Lucky 7 cigarettes with an estimated retail value of approximately $1 million. The cigarettes did not bear tax stamps or other evidence of the payment of applicable New Jersey or local cigarette taxes. The cigarettes were placed in the back of a tractor-trailer at a locked commercial trucking and warehouse in Edison, N.J. As part of the undercover operation, federal agents placed video cameras and other evidence gathering equipment in and near the area.
On June 9, 2010, CW One met defendants Guido, Torlone, and Gerbino to discussed the planned theft of the trailer and cigarettes. During this consensually recorded meeting, defendant Torlone said they could use a “plumber's tool” to snap the lock off the gate surrounding the area where the cigarettes would be stored inside the tractor-trailer. They drove to the location in Edison where the cigarettes were stored to observe the area where they planned the theft. Defendant Guido noted that the lock was a “piece of shit” and advised the others that they needed ski masks and baseball caps. During this meeting, defendant Guido stated that on the day planned for the operation that they would meet at a location in Edison.
On July 31, 2010, law enforcement officers conducting surveillance near the Edison location saw Giustra driving a green tractor. Law enforcement officers observed and video-recorded defendant Cerchio, with a bolt-cutter tool, and Discrescento – both of them wearing masks – walking toward the gate. They were then observed entering the area were the truck was located. Guido, using a hand-held walkie-talkie, was observed in a red vehicle outside the area. Giustra, with Torlone as a passenger, drove the green trailer and attached the trailer to the green tractor and then departed the area. The trailer full of cigarettes was dropped off at a warehouse located in Perth Amboy, N.J. It was recovered after the heist.
CW One gave defendant Dellaratta approximately $500 on March 30, 2011, representing a portion of the sale of some of the cigarettes.
On Feb. 26, 2012, law enforcement officers executed a search warrant at the warehouse and recovered approximately 52 full boxes, with each box containing approximately 50 carton of the cigarettes.
In June 2011, CW One participated in a sting operation in which 25 32-inch Toshiba flatscreen televisions were represented as stolen and then transported to New York by Guido and Torlone.
Martucci was charged in a separate Complaint, which alleges that on Jan. 26, 2010, he sold a quantity of cocaine to CW One.
U.S. Attorney Fishman praised special agents of the FBI, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge Michael B. Ward in Newark, for the investigation leading to today’s arrests. He also thanked the N.J. State Police; IRS-Criminal Investigation; the U.S. Department of Labor; the Waterfront Commission of New York Harbor; N.J. State Commission of Investigation; and the Bayonne Police Department.
The government is represented by Assistant U.S. Attorney Anthony Moscato of the New Jersey U.S. Attorney’s Office Organized Crime/Gangs Unit in Newark.
The defendants and charges are listed in the attached document: