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Supreme Court of New York, Appellate Division, First Department Unanimously Confirms the Commission’s Revocation of Checker’s Registration for Association with Members of Organized Crime

April 23, 2019

On April 23, 2019, the Supreme Court of New York, Appellate Division, First Department unanimously affirmed the decision of the Waterfront Commission to revoke the registration of checker John Riccobono.

Riccobono’s registration was revoked on September 19, 2017, after the Commission found that he had improperly associated with: (1) Joseph “Sonny” Juliano, a career offender, convicted racketeer and member of the Gambino crime family; (2) Sam Riccobono, a career offender who was a soldier in the Gambino crime family; (3) John F. Riccobono, a career offender who was a soldier in the Gambino crime family; (4) Vincent Vittaburga, a career offender and convicted racketeer who was a soldier in the Gambino crime family; and (5) Ronald Ferrari, a career offender and convicted racketeer who was an associate in the Gambino crime family.

The Commission further found that Riccobono had committed fraud, deceit, or misrepresentation in connection with sworn interviews in which he falsely denied knowing or associating with convicted racketeers, career offenders or members or associates of an organized crime group. Based on the foregoing, the Commission found that Riccobono lacked the requisite good character and integrity necessary to be a checker in the Port.

On appeal, Riccobono argued that the Commission’s decision was unsupported by the record, and that the penalty of revocation was harsh and unwarranted. He also argued that his due process rights were violated when the Administrative Law Judge drew an adverse inference against him for his failure to testify at his administrative hearing.

In affirming the Commission’s decision, the court found that there was substantial evidence that Riccobono had violated the Waterfront Commission Act by improperly associating with members of organized crime. Specifically, Riccobono had associations with five members of the Gambino crime family which spanned about a decade, and included his attendance at crew dinners at which members of a crime family discussed business. The court held that these associations, “were inimical to agency policies and violated his sensitive position under the Waterfront Commission Act.” Based on the foregoing, the court held that the penalty imposed was not a shock to one’s sense of fairness.

The court further rejected Riccobono’s claim that his due process rights had been violated, and upheld the ALJ’s application of an adverse inference against him for failing to testify during the administrative hearing.

A copy of the Court’s Decision and Order is attached.

Download Court's Decision: PDF

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