New York City’s Genovese crime family is traveling a little lighter these days. And members of United Food and Commercial Workers Locals 1D and 2D are sleeping a little more easily. On November 15, Steven Arena, a longtime Genovese soldier, was sentenced in Manhattan federal court to one year in prison and three years of supervised release for his role in racketeering conspiracies involving two now-convicted Brooklyn UFCW officials, Frank Cognetta and Vincent D’Acunto. A few weeks later, on December 4, another Genovese made man, Frank Giovinco, was convicted by a trial jury in the same court of racketeering conspiracy related to the locals. These four persons along with another Genovese wiseguy, Vincent Esposito, had been indicted in January 2018 following a probe by the FBI, the Labor Department and the NYPD.
Union Corruption Update has covered this saga several times since the indictments of two years ago. United Food and Commercial Workers Locals 1D and Local 2D, each based in Brooklyn, N.Y. and representing wine and distillery workers, had been mobbed up for a long time. With respect to Local 2D, a pair of Genovese enforcers, Vincent Esposito and Steven “Mad Dog” Arena, did the dirty work. According to prosecutors, Arena and Esposito, along with four other reputed Genovese mobsters, participated with then-local secretary-treasurer Vincent D’Acunto in a scheme lasting during 2001-17 to extort money from an unnamed officer through threats of violence and loss of employment. Esposito pleaded guilty last April, and was sentenced in July to up to 30 months in prison and ordered to forfeit $3.8 million in assets. D’Acunto pleaded guilty in March, and was sentenced in August. With respect to Local 1D, Frank Cognetta, former secretary-treasurer of the union, steered nearly $500,000 to a local health plan managed by a favored benefits adviser, fleecing a large portion of those assets. He was sentenced in September after pleading guilty in March. As for Steven Arena, he pleaded to racketeering conspiracy last May.
Frank Giovinco, now 52, a resident of Syosset, N.Y., is perhaps the least known of the defendants. But he was a piece work with a criminal history. Back in 1997, he and several other persons pleaded guilty to state charges related to a violent trash-hauling cartel operated by the Genovese and Gambino crime families. Old habits proved hard to break. According to prosecutors, Giovinco engaged in a variety of schemes against UFCW Locals 1D and 2D to enrich the Genovese mob, including “multiple acts of extortion, honest services fraud, and bribery.” Based on evidence obtained through audio recordings, he extorted a union official and an associated financial adviser out of a portion of investment commissions. When one of the intended targets failed to pay up, Giovinco and other individuals threatened his life. In addition, he extorted annual tribute payments from a union president in sums exceeding $10,000. Moreover, he sought a job at the local so he could exert total control over its operations. He is scheduled for sentencing on March 11.