Nobody doubted Primo Cassarino’s street credibility. A hardcore soldier with the Gambino crime family, he was an enforcer for shipping docks boss Anthony “Sonny” Ciccone. Cassarino was so fearless that not long ago he’d been convicted for shaking down tough-guy action-film star Steven Seagal. But in the wake of a two-year probe by the Waterfront Commission, he’s been telling federal and state agents what he knows. That knowledge may be enough to take down the top brass of Local 1814 of the International Longshoremen’s Association (ILA) – and some key associates.
Investigators this decade have been focusing their energies on the Staten Island docks, which like those in nearby Brooklyn, long have been Gambino-controlled. Cassarino last August received an 11-year, three-month federal prison sentence for his role in the operation. Ciccone, Gambino boss Peter Gotti (brother of late boss John Gotti), and several other Gambino figures also were convicted. Local 1814 connection involves a pair of Staten Island businessmen, Salvatore Calcagno and Carmine Ragucci. Calcagno, a developer, built a refrigeration warehouse at Howland Hook, a 200-acre freight-loading terminal that Ragucci ran until 2001 when he was fired by the parent company. Calcagno this April was indicted on a tax evasion charge just before the statute of limitations was to expire. Both are longtime friends and allies of Staten Island Borough President James Molinaro. Local 1814 President Frank “Red” Scollo testified at the Gotti trial that Ragucci made regular $9,200 payments to Ciccone between 1997 and 2001.
Primo Cassarino is about the last person in the world any of these people want talking. But with up to nearly a dozen years of prison time ahead of him, he may have a lot to say. (New York Sun, 5/26).