Joseph Queli of Wall, was sentenced to five years in state prison Friday in connection with a joint investigation by the state Division of Criminal Justice and Waterfront Commission of New York Harbor into alleged extortion of money from dock workers at the Port of New York and New Jersey.
Queli, 65, was sentenced by state Superior Court Judge Anthony J. Mellaci Jr. in Freehold. Queli was also ordered to pay a $57,500 fine and must forfeit $24,260 seized in the investigation.
The sentence was based on Queli’s Oct. 28, 2011 guilty plea to one count of second-degree conspiracy to commit criminal usury and money laundering, and a second count of third-degree filing false tax returns. Queli was charged in an Oct. 26, 2010 indictment.
In pleading guilty, Queli admitted that he conducted loansharking with interest rates in excess of 50 percent per year. He made the loans to members of the International Longshoremen’s Association, and that he would demand weekly payments from the union members.
Supervising Deputy Attorney General Mark Eliades, chief of the Division of Criminal Justice Gangs & Organized Crime Bureau, and Deputy Attorney General Erin Callahan are prosecuting the case.
Queli was initially arrested and charged in April 2010 as a result of Operation Terminal, an ongoing investigation by the Division of Criminal Justice and the Waterfront Commission into the activities of a criminal enterprise that allegedly has exercised control and corrupt influence over ILA locals operating shipping terminals on the Elizabeth and Newark waterfronts. The criminal enterprise allegedly was demanding “tribute” from dock workers for better jobs and pay.
Also charged in April 2010 were a top ILA official, Nunzio LaGrasso, another ILA member, and a Newark police officer who is LaGrasso’s nephew. They were indicted on Feb. 8, 2011. The charges in that indictment are pending.
LaGrasso, 61, of Florham Park, secretary-treasurer of ILA Local 1478, was charged with extortion and commercial bribery, both in the second degree. LaGrasso is also vice president of the Atlantic Coast District of all ILA locals.
LaGrasso’s nephew, Newark Police Officer Alan Marfia, 40, of Kenilworth, was charged with second-degree official misconduct for allegedly using his access to police databases to obtain information for LaGrasso on undercover police vehicles that were conducting surveillance near his union office.
Rocco Ferrandino, 69, of Lakewood, a timekeeper at Maher Terminal in Port Newark/Elizabeth, was charged with second-degree extortion and second-degree commercial bribery.