Checker Removed from Waterfront for Association with a Genovese Crime Family Associate and Career Offender Convicted of Racketeering Offenses; Also Posted “Snitches Get Stitches” on Genovese Associate’s Facebook Page and Committed Multiple Acts of Fraud, Deceit or Misrepresentation
March 8, 2021
Today, the Waterfront Commission unanimously revoked the checker registration of Jose “Pepe” Rodriguez, age 54, of Kearny, New Jersey. As a checker at Port Newark Container Terminal and other facilities, Rodriguez was responsible for verifying the location and weight of cargo containers.
The revocation of Rodriguez’s checker registration followed a hearing before an Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) who found that Rodriguez violated the Waterfront Commission Act as follows:
Rodriguez associated with Manuel Rodriguez (a/k/a Manny Rod and Manny Guitarbarr), a Genovese crime family associate and career offender convicted of racketeering activities. Manny Guitarbarr was convicted of aggravated assault (he fired a gun at the victim) and promoting gambling in 1992; collection of credit by extortion (his victims included port workers) in 1999; and conspiracy to commit money laundering in 2019. The ALJ described Manny Guitarbarr as both “notorious” and “violent.”
Rodriguez committed fraud, deceit, or misrepresentation during a sworn Commission interview regarding not only Manny Guitarbarr, but also another Genovese associate, Albert “The Bull” Cernadas. Cernadas is a career offender who victimized members of the International Longshoremen’s Association (ILA), the union for longshoremen at the Port of New York and New Jersey. Cernadas had been Executive Vice President of the ILA and President of ILA Local 1235. He was twice convicted of racketeering activities – first, in 2006, he was convicted of a conspiracy to commit mail and wire fraud in connection with his role as a trustee of the fund that provided health care benefits to ILA members, resulting in his expulsion from the ILA; more recently, in 2015, he was convicted of a racketeering conspiracy in connection with his extortion of ILA members at Christmastime. The ALJ found that Cernadas had attended Rodriguez’s wedding, was good friends of Rodriguez’s in-laws, and, like Guitarbarr, was a Facebook friend. The ALJ found that Rodriguez offered false testimony despite being “aware of the organized crime ties, allegations, and criminal history of Cernadas and Guitarbarr.” The ALJ found that he “lied during his sworn interview despite being warned that revocation of registration could be a consequence.” Rodriguez “then failed to retract a single false statement despite being offered the opportunity to do so at the conclusion of his sworn interview.” The ALJ found that, “during the Hearing, he persisted in claiming ignorance about the organized crime ties of both Cernadas … and Guitarbarr.” The ALJ noted that, during the hearing, he retracted prior admissions, contradicted prior testimony, and “offered incredible excuses for his Facebook friendships with Cernadas and Guitarbarr.”
Rodriguez lacks good character and integrity because he posted “snitches get stiches” as a comment on the Facebook page of Manny Guitarbarr viewable to anyone on Facebook. The comment was in response to an “ominous” posting by Guitarbarr, then under indictment, in which he used expletives to excoriate informants whom he described as “Stool Pigeons” and “snitches.” The ALJ noted that Rodriguez’s “decision to publicly endorse the assault of informants strikes at the heart of the Commission’s efforts to combat criminal influence on the piers.” The ALJ noted, “Fear of retaliation curbs longshoremen from cooperating with law enforcement” and has been “routinely used by members of the Genovese family who conspired over half a century to control unions and businesses operating on the Manhattan and New Jersey waterfronts.”
The ALJ, quoting the Superior Court of New Jersey, Appellate Division, found that “the mere appearance of corruption strengthens the grip of the Genovese family on the waterfront.” He concluded that Rodriguez’s “message threatening informants on the Facebook page of a Genovese crime family associate under indictment, gives a clear perception of corruption.” The ALJ determined that, as a result “of the acts of fraud and the risk or perception of corruption caused by his association and threat against informants,” Rodriguez’s registration as a checker should be revoked.
The Waterfront Commission adopted the ALJ’s findings and ordered the immediate revocation of Rodriguez’s registration as a checker.