Supreme Court of New York, Appellate Division Confirms the Commission’s Revocation of Longshoreworker’s Registration, and Unanimously Reverses the Prior Order and Judgment of the Supreme Court, New York County Annulling the Commission’s Determination
July 3, 2014
On July 3, 2014, the Supreme Court of New York, Appellate Division, First Department affirmed the decision of the Waterfront Commission to revoke the registration of longshoreworker Margaret “Margo” Dillin, and unanimously reversed a prior order that had annulled the Commission’s revocation.
Dillin had been previously expelled by the Administrator of the International Longshoremen’s Association Local 1588, based upon his finding that she had associated with organized crime figures, bragged about such association, and received preferential job assignments over more qualified, senior members. Dillin was found to have violated a federal consent decree by associating with members and associates of organized crime.
The Commission subsequently charged Dillin with committing various offenses under the Waterfront Commission Act which rendered her presence at the piers or other waterfront terminals in the Port a danger to the public peace and safety. After an administrative hearing, Administrative Law Judge Patrick McGinley found that the Commission established the charges against Dillin by a fair preponderance of the credible evidence, and recommended that Dillin’s registration be revoked. Having duly considered the record of the proceedings and the Administrative Law Judge’s Report and Recommendations, the Commission revoked Dillin’s registration.
Dillin challenged the Commission’s decision on the grounds that it was arbitrary and capricious, that it was unsupported by substantial evidence, and that the penalty imposed was an abuse of discretion. Dillin’s entire defense hinged on, as Judge McGinley put it, “her ostrich-like” reaction to the Commission’s charges. She claimed that she was unaware that the federal government had been engaged in efforts to combat the influence of organized crime in her local, that she was unaware of the federal consent order or of its contents, that she was unaware that she had attended a wine tasting party at the home of Nicholas Furina, a convicted racketeer on the ILA barred list, that she was unaware that she had gone to Furina’s renowned Christmas party, and that she was unaware that he would be at those two events.
On August 15, 2013, in a Memorandum Decision by Justice Alice Schlesinger, the New York State Supreme Court reversed the Commission’s revocation of Dillin’s registration. Justice Schlesinger held that the Commission was arbitrary and capricious in finding that Dillin’s attendance at parties hosted by Nicholas Furina constituted association under the Waterfront Commission Act. Dillin’s bragging about her friendships with organized crime members on the waterfront was deemed simply to be “unfortunate” by Justice Schlesinger. Even though Dillin had been arrested several times for possession of narcotic equipment, aggravated assault, and for failure to make restitution on a prior conviction of theft by deception, Justice Schlesinger indicated that Dillin had previously refrained from committing any criminal conduct. She held that the Commission’s revocation of Dillin’s registration under the circumstance was shocking and grossly disproportionate to the offense and, in short, a “complete overreaction.”
The Commission appealed.
On July 3, 2014, the Appellate Division unanimously reversed Justice Schlesinger’s order and judgment, and found that there was substantial evidence that Dillin had violated a prohibition against association with an identified member of an organized crime family. There was testimony that Dillin attended two parties that were also attended by an associate of an organized crime family, and there was sufficient evidence to refute her claim that her attendance at those parties was accidental or inadvertent.
The Court also found that the penalty of revocation of Dillin’s registration does not shock one’s sense of fairness. The Court held that, “[b]y associating with individuals with connections to organized crime and boasting about such associations to other longshoremen, [Dillin] engaged in conduct which potentially undermines the Commission’s continuing efforts to ensure public safety by reducing corruption on the waterfront.” Moreover, the Court noted that revocation was proper considering that Dillin had been previously suspended by the Commission for failing to disclose two prior arrests, for making false statements under oath to the Commission during the application process, and because she had also been previously found guilty of theft by deception.
A complete copy of the Court’s Decision and Order is attached.