Port Elizabeth Mechanic Removed from Waterfront for Cocaine Possession Conviction, Failed Drug Tests, and Refusal to Answer Material Question at Commission Proceeding
May 2, 2017
On May 2, 2017, the Commission unanimously revoked the registration of Thomas Zaccagnino as a maintenance man (chassis mechanic) in Port Elizabeth, New Jersey. Following a hearing, an Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) found that Zaccagnino had violated the Waterfront Commission Act on multiple occasions. Among the ALJ’s findings were the following:
In 2016, the City Court of New Rochelle, New York, convicted Zaccagnino of a disqualifying misdemeanor of unlawfully possessing a controlled dangerous substance, specifically cocaine.
Zaccagnino tested positive for cocaine on three (3) occasions in 2016 while registered to work on the waterfront. He failed two drug tests administered at the direction of the Commission and one drug test administered at the direction of his employer in Port Elizabeth following an accident.
Zaccagnino sustained an “unacceptable number” of convictions for driving while intoxicated, resulting in the revocation of his driver’s license since 2011. During a sworn interview, he claimed that, because he lacks a valid license, he relies on a fellow port worker to drive him to and from work. Asked for the identity of that port worker to confirm his testimony, Zaccagnino, during the interview and his hearing, refused to identify him. By refusing to answer a material question lawfully required to be answered at a Commission interview, Zaccagnino violated the Waterfront Commission Act. The ALJ concluded that it was “not credible that the Respondent, who has not had a valid driver’s license since 2011, has been driven to work in Elizabeth, New Jersey from his home in New Rochelle, New York by a coworker, who he refused to identify, allegedly at the coworker’s request . . . .”
The ALJ determined that Zaccagnino “was not a credible witness” during the hearing in that he offered contradictory or non-responsive testimony. Despite his three failed drug tests and misdemeanor conviction, Zaccagnino claimed unconvincingly to only be an “occasional dabbler” in cocaine. The ALJ noted that Zaccagnino has a “history of substance abuse at or around work hours.” Employed at repairing chassis “used to support containers holding tons of cargo,” his “mistakes risk property damage and serious physical injury.” The ALJ found that Zaccagnino’s presence at the piers or other waterfront terminals in the Port of New York District represents a danger to the public peace or safety.
After considering the entire record, the Commission adopted the ALJ’s findings and his recommendation to revoke Zaccagnino’s waterfront registration.