Union Members Forced to Pay Tribute Cash

These are not people you want to send a Christmas card to. Why? Because. If they feel offended by the meager contents of the envelope, you will get a severe beating, or worse.

An extortion conspiracy was recently uncovered within International Longshoremen’s Association locals along the New Jersey waterfront. According to court documents, union officials and others squeezed union members for Christmastime tribute payments. Violence, the threat of violence and a pervasive climate of fear convinced union members to cough up the dough.

The money typically came from year-end compensation given to some ILA members called “container royalty fund” checks.

A year and a day

One retired longshoreman, 72-year-old Julio Porrao of Palm Coast, Florida, was sentenced to a year and a day in prison for his part in the scheme. He also got a $5,000 fine and two years of supervised release.

Charges are pending against three others. One of them, Stephen Depiro, 59, is allegedly the manager of the Jersey waterfront for the Genovese organized crime family of La Cosa Nostra.

This is a hell of a way to celebrate the Christmas holiday. It is certainly nothing new. Similar type of activity has been going on for years. What makes it especially disgusting is that the victims for the most part are rank-and-file workers who can least afford to make the payments.

Risk avoidance

If these predators are as tough as they think they are, why not go after some bigger fish that can provide a fatter pay envelope for them. But that would involve more risk, something that these creeps avoid at all costs. Well, it didn’t work this time. They got caught and will pay the price for a sleazy little holiday tribute racket. It’s pathetic, and almost humorous.

And it isn’t like the accused are destitute and require the money for basic needs such as food, rent and clothing. Not at all. They themselves are current or former longshoremen who did and sometimes still do draw paychecks, even if some of the jobs they supposedly perform are fictitious and are “jobs” in name only.

The whole situation stinks to high heaven. Here’s hoping that the prison food they eat on December 25 is equally rotten. Merry Christmas.

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