Staten Island Man Admits Role In New Jersey Cigarette Heist
Plea Stems from an FBI Undercover Sting Operation
NEWARK, N.J. – A Staten Island, N.Y., man admitted today his role in the theft of a trailer containing 270 cases of counterfeit cigarettes that were part of an FBI undercover sting, U.S. Attorney Paul J. Fishman announced.
Augustine “Augie” Guido, 73, pleaded guilty before U.S. District Judge Jose L. Linares in Newark federal court to an information charging him with conspiracy to commit cargo theft. Guido and seven other conspirators were previously arrested and charged by complaint on Dec. 19, 2012. Guido was released on a $100,000 bond after his arrest.
According to documents filed in this case and statements made in court:
A cooperating witness (CW One) secretly wore a recording device and consensually recorded conversations with various people. CW One assisted federal agents in multiple districts by providing material information, intelligence, and evidence concerning members and associates of La Cosa Nostra and their criminal activities.
On Jan. 27, 2010, CW One and Guido attended a funeral in New York. Guido engaged in a consensually recorded conversation with CW One, asking if CW One was aware of any warehouses that they could rob. Guido said he was interested in stealing perfume, cigarettes and pharmaceuticals.
CW One participated in an FBI sting operation in which Guido and others conspired and stole a tractor-trailer loaded with 270 cases of counterfeit Pall Mall and Lucky 7 cigarettes. The cigarettes were placed in the back of a tractor-trailer at a locked trucking facility in Edison, N.J. Federal agents placed video cameras and other evidence gathering equipment in and around the facility.
On various occasions before July 31, 2010, Guido and his conspirators met to discuss the plan to steal the cigarettes. These meetings were consensually recorded by CW One.
On July 31, 2010, law enforcement officers conducting surveillance near the Edison location observed Guido and his conspirators unlawfully enter the trucking facility. The conspirators, who were wearing masks, drove a tractor into the facility, attached it to a trailer full of cigarettes, and then departed the facility. Guido used a hand-held walkie-talkie to communicate with other members of the conspiracy during the heist. The trailer was dropped off at a warehouse located in Perth Amboy, N.J. Law enforcement officers executed a search warrant at the warehouse and recovered 52 full boxes, with each box containing approximately 50 cartons of the cigarettes.
At the plea hearing, Guido admitted his involvement in the conspiracy to steal the cigarettes from the Edison trucking facility, including planning the theft with other individuals over several months.
Two other conspirators, John S. Dicrescento, 33, of Staten Island, and Anthony Gerbino, 52, of North Valley Stream, N.Y., also pleaded guilty to their roles in the heist. Charges against the other five defendants are still pending.
The conspiracy charge to which Guido pleaded guilty is punishable by a maximum potential penalty of five years in prison and a $250,000 fine. Guido is scheduled to be sentenced June 4, 2014.
U.S. Attorney Fishman praised special agents of the FBI, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge Aaron T. Ford in Newark, for the investigation leading to today’s guilty plea. He also thanked the N.J. State Police; IRS-Criminal Investigation; the U.S. Department of Labor; the Waterfront Commission of New York Harbor; N.J. State Commission of Investigation; and the Bayonne Police Department for their roles in the investigation.
As to the remaining defendants, the charges and allegations contained in the complaints are merely accusations, and they are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.
The government is represented by Assistant U.S. Attorneys David M. Eskew and Anthony Moscato of the New Jersey U.S. Attorney’s Office Criminal Division in Newark.