Former ILA Delegate Sentenced to 20 months in Prison for Extortion Conspiracy Involving Christmastime Tribute Payments
October 15, 2014
A former International Longshoremen’s Association Delegate and Representative was sentenced today to 20 months in prison for conspiring to extort longshoremen on the New Jersey piers for Christmastime tribute payments.
Robert Ruiz, 55, of Watchung, – an ILA Delegate from 2007 through 2010 and former ILA Representative – previously pleaded guilty before U.S. District Judge Claire C. Cecchi to one count of an indictment charging him with conspiring to extort Christmastime tributes from ILA members. Judge Cecchi imposed the sentence today in Newark federal court.
According to documents filed in this case and statements made in court:
Ruiz admitted that he conspired conspired with ILA Local 1235 Presidents Vincent Aulisi and Thomas Leonardis to compel tribute payments from ILA union members, who made the payments based on actual and threatened force, violence and fear. The timing of the extortions typically coincided with the receipt by certain ILA members of “Container Royalty Fund” checks, a form of year-end compensation. Leonardis and Ruiz were suspended from their positions following their arrests in January 2011. Aulisi had already retired from his employment on the New Jersey piers at the time of his arrest.
Charges are still pending against three defendants in the superseding indictment, including a racketeering conspiracy charge against Stephen Depiro, 59, of Kenilworth, New Jersey – a soldier in the Genovese organized crime family of La Cosa Nostra. Since at least 2005, Depiro has managed the Genovese family’s control over the New Jersey waterfront – including the nearly three-decades-long extortion of port workers in ILA Local 1, ILA Local 1235, and ILA Local 1478. Members of the Genovese family, including Depiro, are charged with conspiring to collect tribute payments from New Jersey port workers at Christmastime each year through their corrupt influence over union officials, including the last three presidents of Local 1235.
Two other Genovese family associates charged in the case are former union officials: Albert Cernadas, 79, of Union, New Jersey, the president of ILA Local 1235 from approximately 1981 to 2006 and former ILA executive vice president; and Nunzio LaGrasso, 63, of Florham Park, New Jersey, the former vice president of ILA Local 1478 and former ILA representative.