Even for the mob, union shakedowns can’t go on forever. On July 19, Vincent Esposito, an enforcer for the Genovese crime family, was sentenced in Manhattan federal court to two years in prison and three years of supervised release for racketeering conspiracy related to funds he extorted from the Brooklyn-based United Food and Commercial Workers Local 2D over a more than 15-year period. He also was ordered to pay a $20,000 fine, over $3.8 million in asset forfeiture and restitution in an undetermined sum. Ex-local Secretary-Treasurer Vincent D’Acunto Jr. already pleaded guilty and awaits sentencing. Esposito pleaded guilty in April after being indicted in January 2018. The actions follow a probe by the FBI, the NYPD and the Labor Department’s Office of Labor-Management Standards and Office of Inspector General.
Esposito, currently in his early 50s, was the love child of the late Genovese family boss of all bosses, Vincent “the Chin” Gigante, who spent his last years in federal prison on multiple racketeering counts. As a soldier in that mob, there are good reasons why Esposito is headed there as well. According to prosecutors, Esposito and co-defendant Steven Arena, also a Genovese made man, along with four other Genovese soldiers, conspired with D’Acunto during 2001-17 to extort annual tribute payments from an unnamed Local 2D officer (“Official-1”). He left damning evidence in the form of cash proceeds strewn about his East Side Manhattan luxury apartment and taped conversations over six months. In a separate extortion scheme, Esposito’s co-conspirators had terrorized another Local 2D union official (“Official-2”) and a financial adviser for a portion of the commissions derived from union investments.
The charges against United Food and Commercial Workers Local 2D officials and associates were part of a larger set of indictments that included a Brooklyn affiliate, UFCW Local 1D. The latter’s secretary-treasurer, Frank Cognetta, like Vincent D’Acunto, pleaded guilty this March to a variety of conspiracy charges unrelated to Esposito’s activities, and is awaiting sentencing. Federal prosecutors are confident that putting Esposito away is absolutely necessary to combat union corruption. “By his own admission,” said U.S. Attorney Geoffrey Berman, “for more than a decade Vincent Esposito made millions with members of the Genovese Crime Family by extorting payments, demanding kickbacks, committing fraud and instilling fear. Today Esposito has been sentenced to prison for racketeering conspiracy.”