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Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
Southern District of New York

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Wednesday, April 10, 2019

Vincent Esposito Pleads Guilty In Manhattan Federal Court To Racketeering Conspiracy

Geoffrey S. Berman, the United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, William F. Sweeney Jr., the Assistant Director-in-Charge of the New York Office of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (“FBI”), Michael C. Mikulka, Special Agent-in-Charge, New York Region, U.S. Department of Labor, Office of Inspector General (“DOL-OIG”), and James P. O’Neill, Police Commissioner of the City of New York (“NYPD”), announced that VINCENT ESPOSITO pled guilty today to conspiring to commit racketeering offenses with members and associates of the Genovese Crime Family of La Cosa Nostra.  ESPOSITO pled guilty before U.S. Magistrate Judge Sarah Netburn.  

U.S. Attorney Geoffrey S. Berman said:  “As he admitted today, 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.  Thanks to an extensive investigation by our law enforcement partners, Esposito has been unmasked as a criminal and put out of business.”

FBI Assistant Director William F. Sweeney Jr. said:  “The shakedown of union officials, racketeering and extortion may sound like throwback behavior of mobsters who operated decades ago.   However, the bread and butter of the mafia is to make money, so the illegal enterprises they’ve always engaged in are being used even in the modern era.  The FBI New York Organized Crime Task Force will investigate whatever illicit activity the mob chooses to pursue, in order to stop their criminal behavior.”

DOL-OIG Special Agent in Charge Michael C. Mikulka said:  “Vincent Esposito engaged in a scheme to extort annual cash payments from a union official by threatening violence or the loss of their position if they did not give in to his extortionate demands.  Esposito’s guilty plea affirms the U.S. Department of Labor Office of Inspector General’s commitment to protecting unions and their members from those who seek to exploit unions for their own personal gain.  We will continue to work with our local and federal law enforcement partners to ensure unions can operate in a fair and just environment and function within the confines of federal law.”

Police Commissioner James P. O’Neill said:  “The NYPD, its law enforcement partners and others in government are committed to eradicating organized crime in the City of New York.  Associates of La Cosa Nostra – or any other enterprise that seeks to enrich its members through racketeering and the threat of violence – should know that investigators will build strong cases against them and they will be prosecuted.  I want to thank the members of the NYPD, the FBI, the Southern District and the members of the U.S. Department of Labor’s Office of Inspector General and Office of Labor-Management Standards for their work on this case.”    

According to the Indictment and statements made during public court proceedings:

La Cosa Nostra, also known as the “Mob” or the “Mafia,” operates through entities known as “Families.”  One of the Families operating in the New York City area is the Genovese Crime Family.  For years, continuing until 2017, ESPOSITO conspired with other members and associates of the Genovese Crime Family to commit a wide range of crimes to enrich themselves, including multiple acts of extortion, honest services fraud, and bribery.  Among other things, ESPOSITO directed the long-running extortion of a union official (“Official-1”) for annual tribute payments of more than over $10,000, and had a number of lower-ranking members of the enterprise collect money and convey threats to Official-1 on Esposito’s behalf.  In another extortion scheme, ESPOSITO’s co-conspirators extorted a different union official (“Official-2”) and a financial adviser (the “Adviser”) for a cut of commissions made from union investments.

At the time of ESPOSITO’s arrest, the FBI executed a search warrant on his home and seized more than $3.8 million in U.S. currency hidden throughout the residence, along with an unregistered handgun, ammunition, brass knuckles, and lists of made members of the Genovese Crime Family.  As part of today’s guilty plea, ESPOSITO agreed to forfeit the more than $3.8 million seized by the FBI as criminal proceeds resulting from the offense. 

Mr. Berman also announced that two other co-defendants, FRANK COGNETTA and VINCENT D’ACUNTO, both former union officials, previously pled guilty to conspiracy to commit racketeering.  As part of the conspiracy, D’ACUNTO participated in the extortion of Official-1.  Also as part of the conspiracy, COGNETTA engaged in various schemes to defraud his union of his honest services by, among other things, soliciting and accepting bribes and steering union benefit plans into investments in exchange for kickbacks, which resulted in more than $1 million in unlawful payments.  Charges remain pending against two of ESPOSITO’s co-defendants, Steven Arena and Frank Giovinco, with trial scheduled for June 17, 2019, before U.S. District Court Judge Victor Marrero.  The charges in the Indictment are merely accusations and the defendants are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.

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ESPOSITO, 51, pled guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit racketeering, which carries a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison.  The statutory maximum sentence is prescribed by Congress and is provided here for informational purposes only, as any sentencing of the defendant will be determined by the judge.  ESPOSITO’s sentencing is scheduled for July 10, 2019, before Judge Marrero.

Mr. Berman praised the outstanding investigative work of the FBI, the U.S. Department of Labor’s Office of Inspector General and Office of Labor-Management Standards, the NYPD, and the Special Agents of the United States Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York.

The case is being prosecuted by the Office’s Violent and Organized Crime Unit.  Assistant U.S. Attorneys Kimberly J. Ravener, Jared Lenow, and Jason M. Swergold are in charge of the prosecution. 

Topic(s): 
Labor & Employment
Violent Crime
Press Release Number: 
19-119
Updated April 10, 2019