Jerry Catena

"Entirely too comfortable with organized crime"

One of the classic stories of the New Jersey Legislature in 1968 were allegations that a Newark Assemblyman wanted to cancel a hearing on organized crime under pressure from a "lobbyist" representing Geraldo (Jerry) Catena, one of the state's most powerful mob bosses.

Senate Law and Public Safety Committee Chairman Joseph Woodcock held a news conference in December 1968 to say that his aide was told by Assembly Law and Public Safety Committee Chairman Richard Fiore that he was being pressured by Catena to stop legislative proposals to create the State Commission of Investigation, and to legalize wiretapping, and to permit certain witnesses to receive immunity from prosecution.

Claire Curran Johnson, a former New York Mirror crime reporter who worked for Woodcock, told investigators for the state Attorney General's office that Fiore, a 36-year-old substitute teacher and Recreation Director for the Newark Board of Education, claimed he wanted to head the Assembly panel "to stop these kind of things." "There is a lot of pressure. You just don't know how much pressure. Jerry is unhappy about it," Curran quoted Fiore as telling her.

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"Entirely too comfortable with organized crime."

Gerardo Catena of South Orange was the reputed head of the Genovese crime family from 1957 to 1972.  He died in Florida in 2000 at age 98.Gerardo Catena of South Orange was the reputed head of the Genovese crime family from 1957 to 1972. He died in Florida in 2000 at age 98.One of the classic stories of the New Jersey Legislature in 1968 were allegations that a Newark Assemblyman wanted to cancel a hearing on organized crime under pressure from a "lobbyist" representing Geraldo (Jerry) Catena, one of the state's most powerful mob bosses.

Senate Law and Public Safety Committee Chairman Joseph Woodcock held a news conference in December 1968 to say that his aide was told by Assembly Law and Public Safety Committee Chairman Richard Fiore that he was being pressured by Catena to stop legislative proposals to create the State Commission of Investigation, and to legalize wiretapping, and to permit certain witnesses to receive immunity from prosecution.Claire Curran Johnson, a former New York Mirror crime reporter who worked for Woodcock, told investigators for the state Attorney General's office that Fiore, a 36-year-old substitute teacher and Recreation Director for the Newark Board of Education, claimed he wanted to head the Assembly panel "to stop these kind of things."

"There is a lot of pressure. You just don't know how much pressure. Jerry is unhappy about it," Curran quoted Fiore as telling her.

Read More >

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