- Last Updated: 6:13 AM, June 17, 2012
- Posted: 12:08 AM, June 17, 2012
Druggies are endangering the docks.
Scores of crane operators and other workers handling tons of heavy and sometimes hazardous cargo at Port Authority docks are high as kites, and at least two enforcement agencies are probing the drug use.
Heroin addict Lawrence Schmidt Jr. was driving a truck pulling giant containers at Port Newark when a foreman noticed him swerving and slowing down, legal papers obtained by The Post show.
Schmidt later admitted he was a heroin user and had been asleep at the wheel that day. His longshoreman registration with the Waterfront Commission of New York Harbor was revoked last year.
The commission, a federal agency set up to combat corruption at New York and New Jersey ports, revealed to The Post that it launched 84 drug probes in the last two years, netting 33 workers who tested positive for drugs. Some were fired, and others suspended or sent to rehab.
“The fact is, they are very well paid and don’t have a lot of work to do. They are kids who are somebody’s nephew earning 130K to 140K a year,” another source said.
The 33 druggies are likely the tip of the iceberg among 5,300 dock workers. The commission investigates only when it learns of an arrest or gets a tip. Companies that run the ports can do their own testing and don’t have to report the results.
The commission has been stymied in its recent efforts to do drug testing.
A subpoena issued last month to Port Newark truck inspector Arthur Capuano to appear for a drug test was immediately met with legal action.
“They served him with a subpoena at 8:30 at night and said be here at 10 o’clock in the morning. That’s not the way it works,” said his lawyer, George Daggett.
The New York Shipping Association, which represents the port companies, called the commission’s drug testing “disruptive.”
The commission said it tests workers “who have been identified as chronic substance abusers who frequently work under the influence of drug or alcohol.”
PA spokesman Steve Coleman said, “We are concerned about reports of drug use on the docks because of danger posed to longshoremen, container-terminal employees and others, and we hope the Waterfront Commission and law enforcement take steps to immediately address the issue.”
Additional reporting by Gary Buiso, Brad Hamilton and Philip Messing