Feature Articles

December 2005

The 'On The Waterfront' Trials

Part Six: The Acquitted Corpse

By J. R. de Szigethy

     On November 8, 2005 Genovese Mafia Family capo Lawrence Ricci was acquitted in Brooklyn Federal Court of charges he was involved in an extortion and fraud scam with Unions representing Workers on the docks of the New York and New Jersey Waterfront. That legal victory was moot for the aging mobster, who was not in Court to hear the jury's Verdict; Ricci had disappeared mid-trial, and on November 30th, Ricci's rotting body was found in the trunk of his car parked outside a Union, New Jersey Diner.

     Ricci had been put on trial along with Harold Daggett and Arthur Coffey, two high-ranking executives of the International Longshoremen's Union, which oversees Local Unions of Longshoremen who work the docks of the once-thriving seaport of the North Atlantic Coast. One of those Unions, Local 1814, was the real-life inspiration for the Media expos´┐Ż on Mafia domination of labor Unions that led to the motion picture 'On the Waterfront,' in which Marlon Brando portrayed a working man exploited by corrupt Union bosses.

     With previous Waterfront corruption convictions behind them, Federal Prosecutors were confident they would also obtain a conviction in this trial. However, Daggett's testimony portrayed him and his associates as not the crooked-co-horts of the Mafia as the Feds had alleged but rather as victims themselves of the Mafia's ready willingness to resort to violence and extortion.

     The location of Ricci's dead body - in the town that is the headquarters for the DeCavalcante Family, the real-life inspiration for HBO's The Sopranos, may be an indication that Ricci's murder was carried out with the help of members of that New Jersey-based crime family. The Unions that represent the waterfront dock workers in New Jersey and New York have for many decades been controlled by the Genovese, Gambino, and DeCavalcante Mafia families. One theory to emerge to explain the murder of Ricci is that superiors of his in the Genovese Family were concerned that if Ricci was convicted and was thus facing many years in prison, the aging wiseguy might 'flip' to the Feds and implicate others as a co-operating Witness in order to obtain his 'get-out-of-jail-free card.'

     This latest 'On the Waterfront' trial was the result of a sweeping indictment of mobsters and corrupt Union officials on the Waterfront dating back to June of 2002. Among those indicted at that time were "Red" Scollo, the President of Local 1814, along with Peter Gotti, Richard Gotti, Anthony Ciccone, and 13 other alleged members of the Gambino Family. The charges included racketeering, extortion, illegal gambling operations, and money laundering, all committed as part of the Mafia's corrupt influence over Local 1814 and Local 1 of the International Longshoremen's Union. The indictment mentioned the extortion of "an individual in the film industry," which would later turn out to be action star Steven Seagal.

     The indictment referenced a previous RICO Civil suit in 1990 against the ILA and its leaders Anthony "Sonny" Ciccone and Frank "Red" Scollo. That case resulted in a 1991 Consent Degree which prohibited Ciccone and Scollo from associating with known members of organized crime. "Red" Scollo pleaded guilty to the 2002 charges and entered the Witness Protection Program. Scollo then testified as a Prosecution Witness in the first of the "On the Waterfront trial," as did film star Steven Seagal. The jury deemed Steven Seagal a credible witness in the first trial, which resulted in the conviction of Peter Gotti, his brother Richard V., and nephew Richard G. Gotti, among others.

     The second 'Waterfront' trial in 2003 resulted in the conviction of Genovese Godfather Vinnie "Chin" Gigante on charges he 'acted crazy' for years as a means of avoiding Prosecution for his control of the Unions that operate on the Waterfront of the East Coast.

     The third 'On the Waterfront' trial was averted when film Producer Julius Nasso pleaded guilty for his role in attempting to extort money from Seagal with the help of Waterfront Associates of the Gambino Family. Nasso, who helped bring to the screen the Seagal flicks 'Marked for Death,' 'Out for Justice,' 'Under Siege 2,' and 'Fire Down Below,' served a brief prison sentence and now has his own film production company on Staten Island, New York.

     Federal authorities are continuing in their legal efforts to remove Mafia control of the Longshoremen's Unions on the Waterfront, and an internal Dissident movement by rank-and-filers within the ILU continues, calling themselves the Longshore Workers Coalition.

Related Features by this author:


Part One: The First Trial Begins in Brooklyn Federal Court

Part Two: Three Members of the Gotti Family are Convicted

Part Three: 'Oddfather' Vincent "Chin" Gigante Admits to 'Crazy Act'

Part Four: Steven Seagal Vindicated/Gravano Murder Plot Revealed

Part Five: Hollywood Investigations Continue


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