New York, New York - Five men have been charged in the Eastern District of New York with conspiring to defraud the Newspaper and Mail Deliverers’ Union (NMDU) and Hudson News newsstands to obtain a union card and employment at Hudson News newsstands for the son of the alleged underboss of the Colombo family of La Cosa Nostra.
A criminal complaint was unsealed today charging Benjamin Castellazzo Jr., Rocco Giangregorio, Glenn LaChance, Rocco Miraglia, aka “Irving,” and Anthony Turzio, aka “the Irish Guy,” with mail fraud conspiracy. The five men were arrested earlier today, and their initial appearances are scheduled for this afternoon before United States Magistrate Judge Robert M. Levy at the federal courthouse in Brooklyn.
In addition, a three-count indictment was unsealed today charging Thomas Leonessa, aka “Tommy Stacks,” with wire fraud, wire fraud conspiracy and theft and embezzlement from employee benefit plans in an unrelated scheme. The indictment was returned by a federal grand jury sitting in Brooklyn, N.Y., on March 6, 2014, and relates to Leonessa’s alleged “no show” job as a delivery driver for the New York Post.
The charges were announced by Acting Assistant Attorney General David A. O’Neil of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division, United States Attorney Loretta E. Lynch of the Eastern District of New York Acting Special Agent in Charge Cheryl Garcia of the New York region of the U.S. Department of Labor’s Office of Labor Racketeering and Fraud Investigations and Assistant Director in Charge George C. Venizelos of the FBI’s New York Field Office.
As alleged in the complaint, the NMDU is an independent union that represents approximately 1,500 employees involved in the newspaper industry in New York, New Jersey and Connecticut. NMDU members deliver newspapers for The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, the New York Daily News, the New York Post and El Diario. Hudson News, which also employs members of the NMDU, is a retail chain of newsstands mainly located in major transportation hubs, including airports and train stations.
Between June 2009 and October 2009, Miraglia, who was a foreman at the New York Daily News – as well as an associate of the Colombo organized crime family and the son of a deceased soldier in the Colombo family – conspired with officials of the NMDU and with Turzio, an employee of El Diario, to get an NMDU union card for Castellazzo Jr. and place him in a job at Hudson News. Castellazzo Jr. is the son of Benjamin Castellazzo, the alleged underboss of the Colombo family. Giangregorio and LaChance, who are business agents for the NMDU, also participated on this scheme.
As alleged in the indictment, Leonessa was employed by the New York Post to deliver newspapers by truck from a New York Post warehouse in the Bronx, N.Y., to New Jersey. He was also a member of the NMDU, which maintained offices, including offices for its welfare and pension funds, in Queens, N.Y. From about December 2010 to about September 2011, Leonessa had a “no show job” – a job for which he was paid wages and benefits for services he did not perform – at the New York Post. When Leonessa did not complete his required deliveries, he was nevertheless, based on his fraudulent representations, paid wages by the New York Post and accorded benefits from employee pension and welfare funds managed by the NMDU.
Leonessa is scheduled to be arraigned this afternoon before United States Magistrate Judge Robert M. Levy at the federal courthouse in Brooklyn, N.Y.
The charges in the complaint and indictment are merely allegations, and the defendants are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.
The case was investigated by the U.S. Department of Labor’s Office of Labor Racketeering and Fraud Investigations and the FBI, with assistance from the New York City Police Department, the New York County District Attorney’s Office and Waterfront Commission of New York Harbor.
The government’s case is being prosecuted by Trial Attorney Joseph Wheatley of the Department of Justice’s Organized Crime and Gangs Section and Assistant U.S. Attorneys Elizabeth A. Geddes and Allon Lifshitz.