The U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) has charged 32 New York-area residents in federal court in connection with an alleged organized crime scheme to fix commercial waste disposal rates in and around New York City.
Preet Bharara, the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York; George Venizelos, the assistant director in charge of the New York Office of the FBI; and George Longworth, the commissioner of the Westchester County (New York) Police Department, have announced the unsealing of charges against 32 individuals as part of a multi-year investigation into organized crime’s alleged influence on several aspects of the commercial waste-hauling industry in the greater New York City metropolitan area and parts of New Jersey.
The main indictment charges 12 defendants under the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (“RICO”) for conspiring to participate in a racketeering enterprise that “asserted illegal and extortionate control over commercial waste-hauling companies” and 17 other defendants with individual acts of extortion, loansharking and other crimes associated with those activities.
The charges are contained in three Indictments: United States v. Franco, et al., United States v. Giustra, et al. and United States v. Lopez. The indictments were summarized in a mid-January news release.
“As alleged, organized crime still wraps its tentacles around industries it has fed off for decades, but law enforcement continues to pry loose its grip,” says U.S. attorney Bharara. “Here, as described in the indictments, 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. 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 through its painstaking, multi-year investigation. Organized crime has many victims – in this case small business owners who pay for waste removal, potential competitors, and the communities infected by this corruption and its cost. Organized crime is in a losing battle and we and our law enforcement partners remain committed to its extinction.”
The charges contained in the Indictments are accusations and defendants are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty. Trial dates have not yet been established.