Six arrested in newspaper and mail delivery fraud case
A Brooklyn grand jury has unsealed a criminal complaint against six individuals charged with conspiring to defraud the Newspaper and Mail Deliverers’ Union (“NMDU”) and Hudson News.
Benjamin Castellazzo Jr., Rocco Giangregorio, Glenn LaChance, Rocco Miraglia, also known as “Irving,” and Anthony Turzio, also known as “the Irish Guy,” are acussed of engaging in fraudulent activities in order to obtain a union card and employment at Hudson News for Castellazzo Jr.
As alleged in the complaint, the NMDU is an independent union that represents approximately 1,500 employees involved in the newspaper industry in New York, New Jersey and Connecticut. NMDU members deliver newspapers for The New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, the New York Daily News, the New York Post and El Diario. Hudson News, which also employs members of the NMDU, is a retail chain of newsstands mainly located in major transportation hubs, including airports and train stations.
Between June and October 2009, Miraglia, who was a foreman at the New York Daily News – as well as an alleged associate of the Colombo organized crime family and the son of a deceased soldier in the Colombo family – conspired with officials of the NMDU and with Turzio, who was an employee of El Diario, to get an NMDU union card for Castellazzo Jr. and place him in a job at Hudson News. Castellazzo Jr. is the son of Benjamin Castellazzo, the alleged underboss of the Colombo family.
Giangregorio and LaChance, who were business agents for the NMDU, also are charged with participating in this scheme.
“As alleged, a paycheck in exchange for a hard day’s work was a foreign concept to these defendants,” noted FBI Assistant Director-in-Charge George Venizelos. “Instead, they engaged in a scheme to defraud the NMDU and Hudson News for easy money and personal gain.”
In addition, Thomas Leonessa, also known as “Tommy Stacks,” was arrested and charged with counts of fraud and embezzlement in an unrelated scheme connected to Leonessa’s alleged “no-show” job as a delivery driver for the New York Post.
As alleged in the indictment, Leonessa was employed by the New York Post to deliver newspapers by truck from a New York Post warehouse in the Bronx to New Jersey. He was also a member of the NMDU, which maintained offices, including offices for its welfare and pension funds, in Queens. From about December 2010 to about September 2011, Leonessa reportedly had a “no-show job” at the New York Post, that is, a job for which he was paid wages and benefits, but which he did not perform.
When Leonessa did not complete his required deliveries, he was nevertheless, based on his fraudulent representations, paid wages by the New York Post and accorded benefits from employee pension and welfare funds managed by the NMDU.
“We cannot tolerate corruption in [the newspaper] industry, which is relied on by newspaper readers throughout New York City and beyond,” stated Brooklyn U.S. Attorney Loretta Lynch.
The defendants were arraigned before Brooklyn Federal Judge Robert M. Levy on Thursday afternoon.
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