Federal jury acquits two ILA officials in criminal case
A federal jury in Brooklyn has acquitted Harold J. Daggett and Arthur Coffey, two officials of the International Longshoremen's Association, on charges of extortion conspiracy and fraud which had been brought by the Justice Department.
Coffey, 62, is vice president of the union. Daggett, 59, is the ILA's assistant general organizer. John Bowers, ILA president, said the acquittals represented 'a wonderful day for our union.'
Both defendants appeared stunned by the jury's 'not guilty' verdict. Daggett's son, Dennis, a longshoreman, jumped over a balustrade from the gallery into the well of the court to hug his father before being led away by federal marshals.
Defense lawyers said the jury's verdict was a setback for the government's civil racketeering suit against Bowers and other ILA leaders. Prosecutors said they believed the government could still prevail in the civil suit, which at this point is to be heard at a date yet to be set before U.S. District Judge I. Leo Glasser.
The same jury also acquitted Lawrence Ricci, an alleged 'captain' within the Genovese organized crime family, who had been charged with steering ILA benefit contracts to companies allegedly owned by mafia interests. Ricci, 60, failed to appear in court on Oct. 7, and has not been seen since. 'He's either been abducted or killed. I hope he's alive,' said Martin Schmukler, Ricci's attorney.
According to defense lawyers, the jury acquitted all three men because it did not believe the testimony of Justice Department witnesses who were mafia turncoats.