Sunday, March 8, 2015

New Jersey Crews

New Jersey has its own family who do a lot of work in New York.  They also have crews from the five New York Families operating in the state of New Jersey.  The Gambino Crew NJ circa 2010 was headed by Andrew Merola Aka Andrew Knapik, who was a Capo. They ran a large sports book that brought in a lot of money.  They also had their hands in the Laborer's Union Local 1153 and Local 825 Operating Engineers.

The sports book was run in the same way that most are run today.  They had agents or local bookies who had their own customers who they assigned numbers to and gave access to the websites.  The agents would collect and pay on Tuesdays and then they would get a cut from the enterprise.   Ralph Cicalese was Merola’s right hand man and took care of the book.  He met the agents and took payments.  Ralph was not made but he was very close to Merola.

The sports book paved the way for the crew’s shylock business and they would loan out cash to everyone.   The operation was a success and they pulled in more than 2k a day for years with the sports book.  The shylock business brought in around 4k-7k a week in vig, so it was a great business.  

The reason the Cosa Nostra is still at the top of the criminal food chain is due to their ability to infiltrate and control unions and big business. The Mexican cartels and the street gangs, while powerful in their own spheres, have never been able to make that jump to legitimate business.  
They also all tend to fall apart when their leader goes down.  Long after Merola goes away somebody else from the Gambino Family will be running the crew doing the same thing.

They had a lot of power and control over Local 1153 thanks to Michael Urgola who was the business manager for the Local.  Urgola had a lot of power in the Local because he controlled who was a business agent and who the Job Stewards were on projects.  He also approved all Union memberships.   They also had the Local Recording Secretary in their pocket.  

Merola and Crew were able to bypass the Union Collective bargaining agreements with companies that used Local 1153. They were able to get kickbacks from these companies for their help.  

Another scheme that brought in a fair amount of cash was the extortion of food trucks that wanted to feed the workers on sites.  They would only allow trucks who paid them for the right to park on sites and feed the workers.

Ralph Cicalese was appointed Job Steward on the demolition of the Prudential building in Newark, New Jersey so the Crew had control of that job site.

Local 825 represented over 7,000 operators of heavy equipment, mechanics and surveyors in New Jersey.  They were on job sites all over the State.  Merola and Crew were given no-show and low-show jobs from the Union.   Merola had a no-show job on the Goethals Bridge project.

John Cataldo was their man in Local 825 and he was a Business Agent and Organizer.

The Merola Crew was running things in New Jersey like a well-oiled machine for years, but the FBI was watching, and after 5 years of watching they took down 23 members of the crew.  

Andrew Merola ended up pleading out and received 11 years for his trouble.

The Gambinos continue on in New Jersey and I am sure when Andrew Merola gets out he will be right back to work.

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