EXCLUSIVE: A former contractor tied to organized-crime underboss Martin Taccetta admitted in federal court today that he swindled HUD out of funds through one of the oldest mob scams in the book — creating no-show jobs – after stealing from a former employer, for a total take of more than $600,000 that he didn’t report to the IRS.
The timing of Eric Logiudice’s plea is interesting, given that “Marty” Taccetta is the only one of nearly two dozen defendants who hasn’t taken a government deal in connection with a rackets takedown three years ago.
That sweep included Logiudice, who is on probation for carrying a firearm with its serial number defaced.
Taccetta, a 59-year-old Lucchese family underboss, is already serving a state prison sentence of life plus 10 years. A year ago, the state Supreme Court reinstated Taccetta’s life sentence in connection with a golf-club beating death of a South Jersey businessman. His brother, Michael, who once ran the Lucchese’s New Jersey operation, is believed to be the crime boss David Chase modeled Tony Soprano on.
The crew taken down by federal and Union County investigators also included Andrew Merola, a high-ranking Gambino crime family member who admitted running the operation, and Ralph Cicalese, a union steward and former investigator with the Essex County Prosecutor’s Office.
Convicted crew members trafficked in offshore illegal gambling , racketeering, credit card fraud and a widespread scam from stores such as Lowe’s, Best Buy and Home Depot in which they tagged power tools, TVs and other expensive merchandise with bar-code numbers copied from cheaper goods, paid the reduced price, then returned the items for full-cost refunds.
They even shook down lunch trucks that served workers building the Prudential Center in Newark and raked in money for no-show jobs.
Federal prosecutors’ witness list in the Taccetta trial curiously includes someone identified as an enforcer now in the witness-protection program.
Logiudice, 41, admitted that his $607,161 in unreported income at least $150,000 stolen and embezzled from his former employer, NJS Metropolitan Architectural Woodworking Inc., in Union.
While working at NJS, Logiudice “became aware that an individual was submitting an application to the City of Orange Township Department of Planning and Development to receive Essex County HUD’s Community Economic Revitalization Program funds for a renovation project on Lincoln Avenue,” a spokesperson for the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Newark wrote.
After becoming the project’s general contractor, Logiudice “caused NJS employee to create fraudulent, certified weekly payroll reports for five employees who never worked on the project and then submitted them to City of Orange officials, obtaining $52,872.50 in community redevelopment funds from HUD,” an official release says.
Logiudice is looking at serious federal prison time, particularly given the probation violation. He also agreed to pay the IRS nearly $200,000 in restitution; $52,872 to HUD; and “at least” $150,000 to NJS.
U.S. District Judge Joel A. Pisano set sentencing for Oct. 17 in Trenton.
U.S. Attorney Paul J. Fishman lauded a multi-agency effort in bringing the charges: the FBI, IRS, Labor Department and HUD Office of Inspector General for the mid-Atlantic region; and David E. Malagold, Acting Chief of the of the U.S. Attorney’s Office Organized Crime/Gangs Unit in Newark, with securing the plea.
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