Federal authorities on Wednesday charged 29 men and three mob families with being part of a conspiracy to secretly control significant chunks of the commercial garbage-hauling industry in the New York metropolitan area, from Nassau, Westchester and Rockland counties to New Jersey.
While mob power has been degraded, officials said the waste-hauling industry was one historic stronghold where its influence remains strong. "Organized crime still wraps its tentacles around industries it has fed off for decades, but law enforcement continues to pry loose its grip," said Manhattan U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara.
Officials said the charges were the culmination of a multiyear investigation revolving around a garbage-disposal company owner who was secretly cooperating with the government and was at various times targeted by members and associates of the Genovese, Gambino and Lucchese crime families.
A 35-page indictment charged that mobsters officially banned from the trash industry controlled seemingly legitimate companies and owners, divided up territories so customers couldn't get competitive bids, extorted money from the owners and committed other crimes to enforce their control.
Carmine "Papa Smurf" Franco, 77, of Ramsey, N.J., an alleged Genovese associate twice convicted of crimes related to the trash industry, was identified as one of the kingpins of the enterprise. A former state trooper from Peekskill also was charged.
The Long Island part of the case focused on alleged Gambino family soldier Anthony Bazzini, 53, of Glen Head, and Gambino associate Scott Fappiano, 51, of Staten Island, accused of being the "silent partners" in an unnamed Nassau County carting firm that was seeking new customers in New Jersey.
Fappiano and Bazzini provided protection in return for extortion payments from the owner of the firm who was cooperating with the government, forced that owner to find customers in New Jersey for the Long Island company they controlled and then required him to make good on any bills that the customers he found didn't pay, the indictment said.
Bazzini was the only Long Island resident charged in the indictment. Fappiano, previously the defendant in a celebrated wrongful-conviction case, was exonerated in 2006 by DNA evidence after serving 21 years in state prison for rape.
He pleaded guilty in another mob-related case last year, but got no jail time from Brooklyn U.S. District Judge Kiyo Matsumoto after arguing that he had reverted to bad ways because of difficulties in adjusting to life outside of prison.