Three Chicago Bosses Removed

Laborers’ Int’l Union of N. Am.’s “in-house judge” Peter F. Vaira permanently barred three Chicago bosses Jan. 10, finding that they were trusted members of organized crime and used their union positions to achieve Mafia objectives such as rigged union elections.  The Jan. 10 decision should end the Caruso family’s long-running control over two LIUNA locals and the Chicago Dist. Council, which oversees the pension, training, and health-welfare funds of 21 Chicago locals.

The decision removes: Bruno Caruso, the business manager of Local 1001 and the former president and business manager of the CDC; Frank “Toots” Caruso, Jr., a member of Local 1006 and the former president and business manager of the local; and Leo Caruso, the president and business manager of Local 1006. Bruno and Frank are brothers and Leo is their first cousin. The decision permanently revokes the Carusos’ LIUNA membership and bars them from holding any office or employment with LIUNA or any affiliated entities. No word if the Bush Dep’t of Justice will pursue criminal (a.k.a. real) sanctions for the Carusos.

Reportedly, testimony from law enforcement officials, former mob associates, and informants in the witness protection program helped Vaira conclude that the three men were “associates” of the Mafia, which is known in Chicago as the “Outfit.”

Bruno Caruso ran a campaign in 1996 against disgraced ex-LIUNA boss Arthur A. Coia. Coia beat Caruso with 67% of the vote; Coia was removed from office and the union and from the Rhode Island Bar after pleading guilty to tax crimes. Thus, in LIUNA’s first-ever direct election of union officers, the two candidates for union president have been ousted from the union because of corruption scandals before the five-year term for which they ran ended.

The decision lays out the three men’s long association with known organized crime figures in Chicago for more than 40 years, beginning with Frank “Skids” Caruso, Sr., the father of Bruno and Frank and uncle of Leo. The senior Caruso was the boss of the Outfit’s so-called “26th Street Crew.” Testimony also brought out witnesses who testified that the Carusos not only associated with the upper echelons of the Outfit, but they participated in the mob’s illegal gambling, burglary, and loan sharking schemes.

Allan A. Ackerman, Bruno’s attorney, called the ruling “flat out wrong.” He added, “I think [Vaira’s] decision was decidedly unfair. It’s our intention to appeal the order because we find it totally conflicts with the facts that were produced during the lengthy hearings.” He said his client intends to appeal the ruling to LIUNA’s “appellate judge” (Bill Clinton and ex-Labor Secretary Alexis Herman attorney) W. Neil Eggleston.  [BNA 1/16/01; Chi. Trib. 1/12/01]