Twenty-nine people charged with taking part in an alleged organized-crime conspiracy to control commercial-waste disposal businesses in New York and New Jersey pleaded not guilty today in Manhattan federal court.
U.S. District Judge Kevin Castel, who is presiding over the case, set a Sept. 23 trial date. Prosecutors in the office of Manhattan U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara allege that 12 defendants engaged in a racketeering scheme to control waste-hauling companies in both states while 17 others were charged with extortion, loansharking, and mail and wire fraud.
The government says the alleged conspiracy lasted from 2009 to 2012 and involved a variety of techniques to control the trash businesses, including intimidation, extortion and violence.
Prosecutors said 12 of the defendants were members or associates of the Genovese, Gambino and Lucchese crime families who had been previously banned from the waste industry and were unlikely to be granted the necessary licenses because of their criminal affiliations.
The defendants allegedly concealed their identities and obtained the licenses by using waste-disposal businesses that were officially owned and operated by others.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Natalie Lamarque told Castel today that the government was in the process of turning over evidence to defense lawyers, including 530 days of recordings made by a cooperating witness and wiretaps that the Federal Bureau of Investigation made during a three-month period.
Prosecutors said the defendants controlled waste disposal and carting businesses in the New York City area, as well as in New York’s Westchester, Rockland and Nassau counties and New Jersey’s Bergen and Passaic counties.
The 12 defendants charged with racketeering face as long as 20 years in prison if convicted, Bharara’s office said. Four other men charged with mail and wire fraud face as long as 30 years while those charged with extortion face as long as 20 years in prison.
The cases are U.S. v. Franco, 13-cr-015, U.S. v. Giustra, 13-CR-014, and U.S. v. Lopez, 13-cr-015, U.S. District Court, Southern District of New York (Manhattan).
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