New Jersey Superior Court, Appellate Division, Upholds Waterfront Commission Subpoena of Longshoreman.
March 6, 2012
On March 6, 2012, the New Jersey Superior Court, Appellate Division, affirmed the trial court's denial of the motion by longshoreman Salvatore Lagrasso, Jr. to quash a subpoena requiring him to appear as a witness at a Commission Hearing against hiring agent Pasquale Pontoriero. Pontoriero has been charged by the Commission with violating the Waterfront Commission Act by associating with Tino Fiumara and Stephen DePiro who are convicted racketeers, career criminals and members or associates of organized crime. LaGrasso, who has been charged by federal indictment with conspiracy to commit extortion and extortion, argued that the Commission's subpoena requiring his appearance at Pontoriero's hearing would result in self-incrimintation.
The Appellate Division affirmed the trial court's holding that LaGrasso may not invoke the Fifth Amendment by "blanket" refusal to testify. Instead, in order to assert the privilege, LaGrasso must first comply with the subpoena, appear as a witness, and then invoke the privilege in response to a specific question propounded. Accordingly, the court affirmed the trial court's denial of LaGrasso's motion to quash, and upheld the Commission's subpoena.