YOU READ IT HERE FIRST : Jersey City’s twin-tower project at 77 Hudson Street provided no-show and non-contracted jobs that cost a concrete company nearly $2.25 million in salary and benefits, the government said today, announcing charges against six people accused of participating in the scheme — including a 74-year-old retired mason who allegedly collected paychecks by occasionally reporting to work.
A familiar pair of landmarks
The accused ringleader, 43-year-old Anselmo “Sammy” Genovese, made it all happen, federal prosecutors said.
Genovese — a project manager at 77 Hudson with reputed ties to the Gambino crime family — paid a union boss on the now-familiar double-high-rise project to look the other way while members of a Jersey City-based local were replaced by others from New York, federal authorities said.
The business manager who collected the bribes has agreed to testify for the government, court records indicate.
The unnamed co-conspirator — identified as “L.M.” in court papers — worked for Local 325 of the Laborers’ International Union of North America, based in Jersey City, federal agents said in a complaint unsealed today.
Broadway Concrete began subcontracting work on the site in early 2007, the government said. Under a collective bargaining agreement with the contractor, it was supposed to hire the Jersey City-based union workers and make benefit contributions to the New Jersey Building Laborers’ Statewide Benefit Fund.
Instead, federal authorities allege, Genovese gave “L.M.” $8,000 in two separate cash payments workers from New York could take off-the-books jobs on the site.
Broadway Concrete ended up sending the fringe benefit funds to a New York-based union fund instead of to its counterpart in New Jersey, according to the federal complaint.
All told, the pair bled Broadway Concrete of $1.7 million in salaries and benefits, the federal complaint says.
Two of those charged, in particular, allegedly made out extremely well.
From late September 2006 through June 2008, 42-year-old Janeen Zinna of Hackettstown collected $221,197 in paychecks from Broadway Concrete, which also paid more than $182,954 in benefit contributions to Local 780 of the Operative Plasterer’s and Cement Masons Interntaional Association, for work she never did at 77 Hudson, the government alleges.
What’s more, from September 2007 through July 2008, 63-year-old Rocco Mazzaferro of Brooklyn was paid nearly $66,000 by Broadway Concrete for work there — when, in fact, he never showed up, it says.
Genovese and his superintendent, Pasquale Zinna (Janeen’s husband), pulled this off by having Eric Haynberg, 45, of New York and other timekeepers report on timesheets faxed from New Jersey to Broadway Concrete’s New York office that Zinna and Mazzaferro did masonry work on the Jersey City project and others, U.S. authorities said.
That, they said, is wire fraud — among other offenses.
At the same time, Paquale Zinna, 43, collected $101,000 in Social Security disability checks, even though he’d been working as late as September 2005, the complaint filed in U.S. District Court in Newark says. He simply had his Broadway Concrete paychecks issued in the names of other people, it says.
All of the ill-gotten gains were deposited into bank accounts at a Budd Lake bank, said federal authorities, who produced records that the Zinnas withdrew $408,000 of that money in 89 separate transactions, allegedly in order to avoid federal reporting requirements for amounts of $10,000 or more.
Mazzaferro’s reported work qualified him for $20,000 in medical and vacation benefits, in addition to his no-show salary, the complaint says.
Some of Mazzaferro’s work was done, instead, by 74-year-old Vincenzo “Uncle Vinnie” Genovese, a retired union member who was receiving pension benefits, the FBI said. He collected Mazzaferro’s paycheck at the site from the mason shop steward, as well, it says.
Zinna’s participation siphoned an additional $77,600 on top of her pay — including vacation checks for nearly $15,000 and roughly $6,000 issued by the local, the complaint says.
Pasquale Zinna, Eric Haynberg, Rocco Mazzaferro, and Vincenzo Genovese were arrested early this morning at their homes in what authorities said was a coordinated law enforcement effort. Janeen Zinna surrendered to law enforcement later this morning. The five defendants taken into custody today had initial appearances this afternoon before U.S. Magistrate Judge Michael A. Shipp in Newark federal court and were released on bail.
Anselmo Genovese, Vincenzo Genovese’s nephew, is expected to surrender to federal authorities tomorrow for an initial appearance before Judge Shipp in the afternoon.
The government has officially put the Zinnas on notice that it will look to seize $422,000 in assets, including property, from them if they’re convicted.