They Cover the Waterfront

The Mob's Latest Maritime Maneuvers

"I hate these fuckin' Albanians, I hate them. If you have a beef with them, you have to kill them right away. There's no talking to them," Falcetti is alleged to have said in May 2000.

When a dispute arose between two rival, mob-tied tow-truck firms, Falcetti offered his solution to the problem: "Take a few guys and go and beat the shit out of the kid. That's what I would do."

But Falcetti's most telling, and potentially most damaging, comments came during long, detailed discussions about how to cope with a Genovese family senior citizen named George Barone, who was booted off the docks by the Waterfront Commission in the late 1960s and who then set himself up as a key ILA figure in Florida.

illustration: Chris Sickels

Barone, 78, was once a feared enforcer. In 1954—the same year On the Waterfront swept the Academy Awards—Barone was working as a hiring boss on a Lower West Side pier when he was arrested for beating a longshoreman who had had the nerve to complain about not being picked for a work crew. "Are you looking to make trouble?" Barone allegedly said before he and two others dragged the man into a Ninth Avenue meat market, where Barone proceeded to beat the dissident unconscious with a metal bar.

The felonious assault charge was later knocked down to disorderly conduct, and Barone continued his swagger through the docks, running a downtown ILA local that was renowned as a haven for ex-cons. Called before the Waterfront Commission, he went mum. The agency later lifted his license to work on the docks, and he headed south, where he helped found ILA Local 1922 in Miami. By 1980, Barone was in trouble all over again, convicted on federal charges of selling labor peace and sentenced to 15 years.

After his release from prison, Barone still controlled the Florida docks, law enforcement officials claim, but younger, ambitious Genovese hoods were chafing under his rule and showed the aging gangster little respect.

"He's a senile old fucking man, this guy," Falcetti was recorded last March saying of Barone. In the same conversation, Falcetti described how top Genovese family officials had ordered Barone to "stay away from the international [union], stay away from the fucking big delegates that they put there." Barone was free to continue controlling Florida, but he had to "stay away from the Jersey piers, away from guys that have been close to him for years." Falcetti added, "It was a hairy fucking thing."

Much of Barone's problems, Falcetti said, stemmed from a run-in with Andrew Gigante. "He bumped the son," said Falcetti as he touched his own chin in gangland sign language to indicate crime boss Vincent Gigante.

Andrew Gigante had his own company in Florida, Falcetti said, and Barone allegedly failed to help him. "Whatever the kid says," said Falcetti referring to Andrew Gigante, "it comes from him," again patting his chin. "Who's gonna challenge that?"

One of "Chin" Gigante's orders, the government says, was to keep Barone "close" and "comfortable" so that when the time came to eliminate him, he would suspect nothing. Barone is supposed to be under house arrest, with electronic monitoring, at his condominium in Miami. His telephone has been disconnected and his lawyer did not return repeated calls.

ILA officials insist that while they know of people like Barone, they are just ancient history. "It is puzzling as well as baffling," said ILA vice president James McNamara. "There was great concern, and it was disheartening to hear this, but unless there was a specific allegation, we can't investigate a press release."

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