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March 6, 2015

           Former Checker Rocco Ferrandino, 72, of Lakewood, New Jersey, was sentenced today to three years in New Jersey State Prison on his plea to second-degree conspiracy to commit commercial bribery and money laundering in front of Superior Court Judge Robert J. Gilson in Morristown, New Jersey. Ferrandino, who was the Timekeeper at Maher Terminals in Port Newark / Elizabeth, was one of six individuals arrested in a joint Waterfront Commission and New Jersey Division of Criminal Justice investigation into a scheme to extort money from dock workers by demanding “tribute” for better jobs and wages.

           The investigation into the criminal enterprise at the New Jersey waterfront revealed that ILA members working at the shipping terminals were required to make a cash “tribute” payment at Christmas time each year to the enterprise out of the year-end bonuses each ILA member receives called “container royalty checks.” Those payments were funneled to the criminal enterprise through Nunzio LaGrasso, the former secretary-treasurer of ILA Local #1478 and former vice president of the Atlantic Coast District of all ILA locals. Union members were required to make the payments in order to receive high-paying jobs, preferred shift assignments and overtime, all as determined under the influence of the criminal enterprise. Each of the thousands of union members were required to make a payment that typically ranged from a couple of hundred dollars to a couple of thousand dollars, depending on the size of the container royalty check. LaGrasso collected some tribute payments directly, but usually relied on accomplices such as Ferrandino to collect them.

           LaGrasso is awaiting sentencing on his guilty plea to a second-degree charge of conspiracy to commit commercial bribery and money laundering in New Jersey Superior Court as well as sentencing on federal charges of extortion conspiracy.

           The remaining defendant, Newark Police Officer Alan Marfia, 43, of Kenilworth, New Jersey (who is LaGrasso’s nephew) will be sentenced on March 27, 2015 on his plea to third-degree conspiracy to commit computer theft for using police databases to obtain information for LaGrasso about undercover police vehicles that were conducting surveillance near his union office. The state will recommend that Marfia be sentenced to three years in state prison. He will be permanently barred from law enforcement and any form of public employment.


Waterfront Commission of New York Harbor