Mobster Sentenced for Racketeering in Brooklyn UFCW Shakedowns

Frank Giovinco was a moneymaker for the Genovese crime family. But where he’s going, the financial opportunities are very limited. On June 22, Giovinco was sentenced in Manhattan federal court to four years in prison, plus three years of supervised release, for acts of racketeering and extortion in the diversion of large sums of funds from Local 1D and 2D of the United Food and Commercial Workers, each based in Brooklyn, to mob-controlled operations. He had been convicted by a jury last December. The secretary-treasurer of Locals 1D and 2D, respectively, Frank Cognetta and Vincent D’Acunto, already had pleaded guilty in March 2019 for their roles. Two prominent Genovese mobsters, Steven Arena and Vincent Esposito, also have been sent packing. The actions follow an investigation by the FBI, the U.S. Department of Labor and the NYPD.

The personality of Frank Giovinco, now 52, a resident of Syosset, N.Y., if nothing else, was persuasive. During the Nineties he was a key figure in a joint Genovese-Gambino family scheme to control the waste hauling industry in the New York City area. He and several other persons pleaded guilty to various state charges in that enterprise in 1997. After serving time, he focused his energies until 2017 on Food and Commercial Workers Locals 1D and 2D, helped by Frank Cognetta and Vincent D’Acunto, to carry out schemes to enrich the Genovese mob through “multiple acts of extortion, honest services fraud, and bribery.” Among other things, Giovinco extorted a financial adviser and a union official (“Official-1”) for a portion of the commissions from union investments; audio recordings caught him threatening to “rattle the cage” of one victim and to have another victim’s feet “held to the fire.” He also conspired to profit from union investments by paying kickbacks to Official-1 and other individuals in exchange for a cut of the commissions. In addition, he extorted annual tribute payments of at least $10,000 from a union president (“Official-2”) and sought a job at one of the locals for the purpose of exerting total control over its operations.

Federal prosecutors are confident that taking Giovinco out was necessary to cleaning up UFCW Local 1D and 2D. “For years, Frank Giovinco, as a member of the Genovese Crime Family, instilled fear in victims and perpetrated kickback schemes to tighten the Family’s stranglehold over two labor unions,” said Audrey Strauss, Acting U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York. “For committing these crimes, Giovinco will now spend four years in prison.”