Upstate New York’s modern version of Peck’s Bad Boys, Local 91 of the Laborers union – at least as it had operated until three years ago – is one step closer to oblivion. Only recently a local ex-goon, Anthony Cerrone, agreed to testify for the prosecution in the upcoming trial of more than a half-dozen former members. That announcement apparently has made an honest man out of at least one defendant.
Andrew Shomers, 42, of Niagara Falls, admitted on June 10 that he took part in union-orchestrated threats, vandalism and a firebombing to intimidate people in county construction trades. A former boxer and Navy veteran, Shomers pleaded guilty to racketeering conspiracy. He faces up to 20 years in prison, but by cooperating as a trial witness, he could get that reduced to 51 months.
This latest development is bad news for former Local 91 President Mark Congi, who is among the defendants arrested and indicted back in 2002. At his hearing, Shomers made clear that Congi called the shots. Congi had told him to forget about getting any more union work unless he participated in criminal acts. Shomers stated that in April 1997 he and other union members firebombed the home of a nonunion worker at the behest of Congi. Later that year Congi gave the order to destroy a large plastic liner covering a Town of Niagara landfill; Shomers and others caused about $100,000 in damages. In July 1998, acting on Congi’s orders, Shomers vandalized the offices of the Niagara Falls Housing Authority for using nonunion labor to install a small section of sidewalk outside its offices. Congi even at one point ordered Shomers to “break the legs” of a man he suspected of cooperating with federal agents – a dictate never carried out.
Prosecutors are pleased they’ve got Shomers on their side. “We feel this is a very significant step in the Local 91 case,” said Assistant U.S. Attorney William J. Hochul, Jr. “This defendant has the highest level of involvement of anyone who has taken a plea so far.” (Buffalo News, 6/11).