Longshoremen Officials Seek to Dismiss Civil Racketeering Suit

It might be a longshot bet, but the bosses at the International Longshoremen’s Association think they can beat the rap. Last July the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Brooklyn, N.Y. filed a civil RICO lawsuit against several of the union’s top officials, including its longtime president, John Bowers, calling for their removal from office. In court filings, attorneys for the ILA and joint union-management benefit programs said the lawsuit was filled with generalities and unsupported conclusions, and overlooked the progress in the internal cleanup program that the union instituted a few years ago. “The Waterfront Enterprise it imagines is a largely unascertainable mass of people and businesses with no specified relationship to one another other than being part of the same industry,” said ILA lawyer Howard Goldstein. 

The union is going up against some strong evidence. President Bowers, the 83-page RICO complaint alleges, violated an earlier settlement by “committing and otherwise conspiring with organized crime figures in the commission of racketeering acts.” The Justice Department has built much of its case around prior testimony of several convicted Gambino crime family mobsters, including ex-boss Peter Gotti, captain Sonny Ciccone, and soldier Jerome Brancato. If this case goes to trial, and Goldstein and the rest of the union’s defense team plan on cross-examining witnesses like these, they’ve got a lot of preparation ahead. (Journal of Commerce, 5/25).