Bridgewater Man Charged With Racketeering, More in Money Laundering Scheme

989f921d33a737030098_fed1c2e4977e27f6f529_2eafe75589039d6dbb7c_edb89f709ec5a4752ef7_9f8f9ffe25d475a5079f_c70959bae8a00f55ad3d_dc450a998e9135c07018_1003479d4ea60ee00236_55072af69cca9951caf8_stock_image_-_law_revised_-_v1.jpg
989f921d33a737030098_fed1c2e4977e27f6f529_2eafe75589039d6dbb7c_edb89f709ec5a4752ef7_9f8f9ffe25d475a5079f_c70959bae8a00f55ad3d_dc450a998e9135c07018_1003479d4ea60ee00236_55072af69cca9951caf8_stock_image_-_law_revised_-_v1.jpg

NEWARK, NJ - According to a release from the State of New Jersey, Acting Attorney General John J. Hoffman announced Tuesday that seven alleged members and associates of the New York-based Genovese organized crime family were arrested and one more is being sought on an arrest, while three others were charged by summons today, all concerning charges for allegedly reaping millions of dollars in criminal profits in New Jersey through loansharking, unlicensed check cashing, gambling and money laundering.

One of those is a Bridgewater resident.

Abel J. Rodrigues, 52, of Bridgewater, was charged with first degree racketeering, first degree money laundering, first degree conspiracy, third degree operating an unlicensed check-cashing facility and third degree filing a fraudulent tax return.

Sign Up for E-News

Rodrigues, the release said, is allegedly a Genovese associate working with a Chatham resident and others in an unlicensed, illegal check-cashing operation. The operation, according to the release, operated out of Portucale Restaurant & Bar in Newark, which is owned by Rodrigues and also known as Viriato Corp., and was done under the guise that Rodrigues was legally allowed to cash checks as an agent for Florham Park resident Domenick Pucillo, who was arrested for allegedly running the licensed and unlicensed check-cashing businesses.

According to the release, the defendants allegedly used this legal arrangement to launder money and evade taxes. Allegedly, the release said, over a four-year period they illegally cashed more than $400 million in checks through Portucale Restaurant and collected more than $9 million in fees.

Many customers, the release said, cashed checks at the restaurants to launder money, hide income or obtain cash for "under-the-table payrolls" because Rodrigues allegedly did not ask for identification and didn't file proper currency transaction reports for checks exceeding $10,000, as required by federal law.

Tri-State Check Cashing, Inc., the main one used for a massive loansharking operation the release said, would receive checks from Viriato Corp. for sums in the hundreds of thousands of dollars, which bundled together checks cashed at Portucale Restaurant. Tri-State, the release said, would then file currency transaction reports only for checks from Viriato Corp.

According to the release, a Bayonne resident allegedly issued hundreds of false currency transaction reports to conceal tax evasion and money laundering.

In return for cashing checks for more than $10,000, the release said, customers paid fees of up to 3 percent per check, which exceeds the limit of 2.21 percent allowed by New Jersey law. Rodrigues, the release said, allegedly received 1 percent on each check, and the remainder went to Pucillo.

It is also alleged that Rodrigues was one of several who concealed income and either failed to file tax returns or filed fraudulent tax returns that did not account for their criminal earnings.

The charges for all 11 defendants, the release said, stem from Operation Fistful, an ongoing investigation by the New Jersey Division of Criminal Justice and the Waterfront Commission of New York Harbor, conducted with the New York and Queens County District Attorneys' Offices and other law enforcement agencies. The eight men targeted for arrest, the release said, face racketeering and money laundering charges that carry consecutive sentences of 10 to 20 years in prison for each charge.

All 11 defendants are charged, in several combinations, with running the following criminal schemes:

  • a massive loansharking operation that yielded about $1.3 million in illegal interest each year
  • an illicit multi-million dollar offshore sports gambling enterprise
  • an unlicensed check-cashing business that made $9 million in fees in four years
  • laundering of $666,000 in drug money via check-cashing businesses
  • illegal control and use of a trucking firm with a contract to transport cars from Port Newark
  • tax fraud and evasion

TAP Into Another Town's News:

You May Also Be Interested In

Sign Up for E-News

Bridgewater/Raritan

Upcoming Events

Sat, July 21, 9:00 AM

The Wayrick Gallery, Scherman Hoffman Wildlife Sanctuary, Bernardsville

NJ Audubon: NJ Audubon Photography Instructors’ ...

Arts & Entertainment Green

Sat, July 21, 9:00 AM

The Center for Contemporary Art, Bedminster,

2018 Members’ Non-Juried Exhibition & Sale

Arts & Entertainment

Sat, July 21, 9:30 AM

Scherman Hoffman Wildlife Sanctuary, Bernardsville

NJ Audubon: Nature-Infused Yoga Summer Series

Green Health & Wellness

Somerville Woman Arrested for Shoplifting from Macy's, According to Bridgewater Police Report

July 14, 2018

BRIDGEWATER, NJ - A Somerville woman was arrested for allegedly shoplifting more than $400 worth of merchandise from Macy's at the Bridgewater Commons Mall July 7, according to a report from Bridgewater Township Police.

Sara Morales-Silva, 51, was charged with shoplifting after she was found with about $435.04 worth of merchandise from the store.

She was processed and released pending a ...

The Somerset Patriots And 9-1-1 On FOX Are Looking For Hero First Responders

July 21, 2018

BRIDGEWATER, NJ - The Somerset Patriots and 9-1-1 On FOX are asking for Hero First Responder nominations from the community.

Nominate a first responder to be recognized on the field during the pre-game ceremony and throw out a ceremonial first pitch at the Saturday, August 4th Somerset Patriots game against the New Britain Bees at TD Bank Ballpark. Three first responders will be chosen ...

Somerville: Gallery Hosts Photo Society's 90th Anniversary Exhibit

July 15, 2018

SOMERVILLE, NJ – Arts on Division is presenting “Visions of Raritan Photographic Society – A Celebration of 90 years” from Thursday, July 19 to Sunday, Aug. 19, 2018 at the Gallery on Division, 15B Division Street.

The Raritan Photographic Society, founded in 1929, is the oldest photography club in New Jersey. The exhibit celebrates the organization's 90 years ...

Take Action to Reduce Debt

In our last article, we broached the subject of debt and the township’s reliance – or over-reliance – on debt to fund our yearly expenditures for items such as roads. So, ok, we want to reduce our reliance on debt moving forward, especially as the cost of borrowing is rising. What’s the solution?

Well, there’s no magic wand we can wave to suddenly end ...

Is the Mediterranean Diet Still the Best for Heart Healthy Eating?

The Mediterranean diet has long been the standard for heart healthy eating.  It is a diet that emphasizes olive oil, fresh vegetables, nuts, whole grains over refined grains, fish and plant-based protein over red meat, herbs and spices to flavor food over salt, and fresh fruit for dessert instead of refined sweets. The US News and World Report even named the Mediterranean diet its ...

Celebrate Summer with Freedom & Responsibility

Parents and students rejoice!

School is out and everyone can now experience a great sense of freedom. Kids want to be outside enjoying summer weather and; although it’s the most wonderful season for non-academic activities involving swimming, traveling, and hiking to name a few, let us not forget that summer loss is a serious long-term result of not opening a book or writing for eight ...

Unique Skill Set Offers Students an Advantage

One of our SAT prep students recently gained a lot of attention for being accepted to all seven of the Ivy League schools to which she had applied, as well as to Stanford University and Massachusetts Institute of Technology (M.I.T.) She has chosen to attend M.I.T. and major in Electrical Engineering and Computer Science.

Of course, Diana had earned stellar SAT scores and had a most impressive ...

Rutgers Hikes Tuition, Student Fees for 2018-2019 Academic Year

July 19, 2018

NEW BRUNSWICK, NJ - Rutgers University Board of Governors approved a 2.3 percent hike in tuition and fees, as well as increases for dorm rooms and meals, for the 2018-2019 academic year.

The increase now brings the annual cost for undergraduate students to $14,975, which is $337 more than this past school year.

Student housing will increase 1.9 percent, and dining ...