WNYC's Bob Hennelly is an award-winning investigative journalist. While at WNYC he has reported on a wide gamut of major public policy questions ranging from immigration and homeland security to power outages and utility mergers.
Veteran New Jersey prosecutor Peter Harvey said the mob is very much alive -- even in the wake of the FBI's largest takedown of organized crime members that resulted in the multi-state arrests of more than 100 alleged mobsters on Thursday.
"It's certainly not dead. It can't be," Harvey, former New Jersey Attorney General and prosecutor on several mob cases, told WNYC. "There will always be an underground economy."
Harvey, who prosecuted the heir to the Nicky Scarfo crime family in Philadelphia, said organized crime now is "on life support" compared to the 1950s through 1970s when it flourished. But the mob's historic ties to specific industries and labor unions -- which came into prominence when organizers turned to the mob for protection -- make it difficult to eradicate illegal activity all together, he said.
"There has been this relationship that is historical and very difficult to eliminate completely. It just is," said Harvey, who worked with the Waterfront Commission to crack down on crime.
He said many contractors, building owners and labor unions facing mob threats capitulate, rather than face possible violence and delayed projects.
“Facing that kind of threat many owners think it’s easier to collaborate with those unsavory figures just to have peace at a work site so that the project gets completed and they don’t get hit with all kinds of fines and costs overruns,” Harvey said.
The Super Bowl is also a cash cow for organized crime. Harvey, who worked on a gambling case involving hockey great Wayne Gretzky's wife, calls the Super Bowl “the biggest betting bonanza for illegal gambling each year.”
He said organized criminals still have a hold on the narcotics trade as well, either extracting fees from local drug dealers or importing drugs into the country. He said they also have a hand in the bootleg DVD business and counterfeit goods as well.