A Union City man was one of five defendants to plead guilty to an illegal loan sharking, cash checking, gambling and money laundering schemes linked to the Genovese crime family, New Jersey Attorney General Gurbir Grewal announced.
By John Heinis/Hudson County View
The defendants were indicted in â€œOperation Fistful,â€ a joint investigation by the New Jersey Division of Criminal Justice and the Waterfront Commission of New York Harbor, conducted with assistance from the New York and Queens County District Attorneysâ€™ Offices and other law enforcement agencies.
Much of the illicit revenue was collected and laundered through licensed and unlicensed check-cashing businesses in Newark run by alleged Genovese associate Domenick Pucillo.
Pucillo and the other associates who were indicted allegedly are part of a New Jersey crew that was operating under the supervision and control of two alleged â€œmadeâ€ members of the Genovese crime family â€“ Vito Alberti, a Genovese â€œsoldierâ€ and Charles â€œChuckieâ€ Tuzzo, a Genovese â€œcapoâ€ â€“ who answer to the Genovese hierarchy in New York.
The following five defendants pleaded guilty today before Superior Court Judge Donald G. Collester Jr. in Morris County:
Domenick Pucillo, 61, of Florham Park, pleaded guilty to first-degree conspiracy to commit money laundering. The state will recommend a sentence of 10 years in prison.
Robert Spagnola, 71, of Morganville, N.J., pleaded guilty to second-degree criminal usury. The state will recommend a sentence of five years in prison.
Vito Alberti, 60, of Morristown, pleaded guilty to second-degree criminal usury. The state will recommend a sentence of five years in prison.
Manuel Rodriguez, 53, of Chatham, pleaded guilty to second-degree conspiracy to commit money laundering. The state will recommend a sentence of four years in prison.
Vincent Coppola, 42, of Union City, pleaded guilty to third-degree promoting gambling. The state will recommend a sentence of 180 days in jail and a term of probation.
Assistant Attorney General Annmarie Taggart and Deputy Attorney General Mohammad Mahmood took the guilty pleas for the Division of Criminal Justice Gangs & Organized Crime Bureau.
The defendants are scheduled to be sentenced on Sept. 20, 2019.
â€œWhen those involved in traditional organized crime engage in schemes such as loansharking and illegal gambling, they profit at the expense of victims who are struggling with debt, gambling problems, and other issues,â€ Grewal said in a statement.
â€œBy prosecuting the men who ran these schemes and putting key defendants behind bars, we send a message that we will not tolerate these corrosive criminal activities that harm individuals, families and society as a whole.â€
The defendants were charged, in varying combinations, with running the following criminal schemes, which allegedly generated â€œtributeâ€ payments up the Genovese chain of command:
â€¢ a massive loansharking operation that yielded about $4.7 million in illegal interest (Pucillo, Spagnola, Alberti, Tuzzo [charges pending against Tuzzo]);
â€¢ an illicit multi-million dollar offshore sports gambling enterprise (Coppola, Jerry Albanese [charges pending against Albanese]);
â€¢ an unlicensed check-cashing business that made $9 million in fees in four years, while enabling customers to launder funds and evade taxes by skirting federal reporting requirements (Pucillo, Abel J. Rodrigues [charges pending against Rodrigues], Rodriguez);
tax fraud and evasion (Alberti, Spagnola, Coppola, Rodrigues and Rodriguez).