Sen. Ray Lesniak [D], one of the big-shot power brokers in New Jersey politics, wants us to believe that organized crime at the Port of Elizabeth is no big deal anymore.
To prove that he means it, he is moving now to kill the watchdog agency that is supposed to keep the mob out, the Waterfront Commission....
It’s an odd move. Because the list of the arrests at the ports during the last year reads like a screenplay for The Sopranos.
You have characters like Michael “Mikey Cigars” Coppola, a capo in the Geneoves crime family, convicted of racketeering for controlling the longshoreman’s local 1235 at the port. You have Gambino family characters as well, and a long list of assaults, extortions, no-show jobs, and cocaine smuggling. Tony’s boys would be right at home.
But what’s really strange about Lesniak’s move is the timing. Because the Waterfront Commission, long a sleepy and corrupt backwater, has cleaned up its act in the last few years. It is under tough new management by experienced mob-fighters. And they are putting new pressure on organized crime at the port.
“It’s strike me as bizarre,” says Ron Goldstock, who spent 14 years as head of New York State’s task force on organized crime, and now sits on the Commission.