Former Checker Barred From Returning to Waterfront Following Findings That He Associated with a Genovese Crime Family Associate and Career Offender Convicted of Racketeering Activities; Also Posted "Snitches Get Stitches" on Genovese Associate's Facebook Page and Committed Multiple Acts of Fraud, Deceit or Misrepresentation.
January 18, 2023
Today, the Waterfront Commission unanimously denied the petition of Jose “Pepe” Rodriguez, age 55, of Kearny, New Jersey, for restoration of his registration as a checker. As a checker in Port Newark, Jose Rodriguez had been responsible for verifying that containers of cargo were in the right location and relaying information about lost containers.
On March 8, 2021, the Commission had revoked Jose Rodriguez’s checker registration following a hearing in which an Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) found the following:
- Jose Rodriguez had associated with Manuel “Guitarbarr” Rodriguez, a Genovese crime family associate and career offender convicted of racketeering activities. Manuel Rodriguez 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 Second-Degree Conspiracy to Commit Money Laundering in 2019. The ALJ described Manuel Rodriguez as a “notorious, violent, organized crime associate.”
Jose Rodriguez committed multiple acts of fraud, deceit, or misrepresentation during a sworn Commission interview regarding not only Manuel “Guitarbarr” Rodriguez, 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 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 Racketeering Conspiracy in connection with his extortion of ILA members at Christmastime. Cernadas had attended Jose Rodriguez’s wedding, was good friends of Jose Rodriguez’s in-laws and, like Manuel Rodriguez, was a Facebook friend. The ALJ found that Jose 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.” Jose 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 further noted that Jose Rodriguez retracted prior admissions, contradicted prior testimony, and offered “incredible excuses for his Facebook friendships with Cernadas and Guitarbarr.”
Jose Rodriguez lacks good character and integrity because of the above offenses and because he posted “snitches get stitches” as a comment on the Facebook page of Manuel Rodriguez viewable to anyone on Facebook. The comment was in response to “ominous” postings by Manual Rodriguez, then under indictment, in which he used expletives to excoriate “Stool Pigeons” and “snitches.” The ALJ noted that Jose 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 also noted that fear of retaliation “curbs longshoremen from cooperating with law enforcement” and had 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.”
Today, both Waterfront Commissioners, after reviewing the entire record of the proceedings involving Jose Rodriguez, agreed that he lacked good character and integrity and denied his petition for restoration of registration. In their Order, the Commissioners found that Jose Rodriguez failed to fully accept responsibility for his offenses and continued to deny and dispute the findings of the ALJ. The Commissioners rejected his continued claim of ignorance as to the identities of the organized crime figures. The Commissioners also found that the passage of time did not diminish the threat posed by Jose Rodriguez’s public endorsement of the assault of informants.
As a result of the Commission’s unanimous denial of his petition for restoration, Jose Rodriguez cannot resume employment as a checker at the Port of New York and New Jersey.