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Federal authorities Wednesday sued for control of the International Longshoremen’s Association, seeking “once and for all to end mob domination” of the powerful labor union, a U.S. prosecutor said. A court order sought by prosecutors in Brooklyn would install a trustee to oversee the New York-based union, which inspired the classic 1954 film “On the Waterfront.” The union represents 45,000 dockworkers and other employees at three dozen ports from Maine to Texas. It also would remove current leaders of the union and bar them and organized crime figures from the waterfront. In a news release, U.S. Attorney Roslynn Mauskopf said ending the dominance of organized crime in the labor union would “put its future back in the hands of the rank-and-file members it was designed to serve.” Named as a defendant was John Bowers, who has served since 1987 as president of the union. The complaint alleges Bowers and others violated an earlier settlement “by committing and otherwise conspiring with organized crime figures in the commission of racketeering acts.” In a statement, the union said it would “vigorously defend itself” against the charges. The government has for decades claimed the union was controlled by the Genovese and Gambino organized crime families. Historically, the Genoveses infiltrated shipping terminals in Manhattan, New Jersey and the Port of Miami, while the Gambinos focused on ports in Brooklyn and on Staten Island, authorities said. Prosecutors have won past convictions against defendants accused of imposing “mob taxes” on union operations and members, but they concede they have failed to fully wrest control from the Mafia. In a shift in strategy, the new case seeks wide-ranging civil remedies, including forcing the union to hold a new election for its executive council. Also, a court-appointed trustee would oversee the union’s health and pension plans “until such time as these entities are free from organized crime and infiltration,” prosecutors said. In one of the latest criminal cases, Peter Gotti, brother of late mob boss John Gotti, was convicted in 2003 of charges alleging he received a monthly cash tribute from violent toughs who had seized control of the waterfront through threats and intimidation. Prosecutors also alleged the Gambinos rigged union elections and secured the award of a lucrative union health service contract for a mob-controlled company. Copyright 2005 Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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