The mop-up work at Amalgamated Transit Union Local 1181 continues. This past December, two former officials of the Queens, N.Y.-based school bus drivers union, plus a key associate, were sentenced in Manhattan federal court for their roles in an extortion-and-bribery scheme. On December 14, brothers Nicholas and Paul Maddalone, each an ex-local board member, were sentenced to 10 months in prison and two years of supervised release for conspiracy to commit extortion to obtain bribes. A week earlier, on December 7, Ira Sokol, a former New York City public school bus inspector, was sentenced to two years probation, including six months home confinement, after pleading guilty to bribery conspiracy.
Union Corruption Update has covered this story several times. The Maddalone brothers, who are known associates of the Genovese crime family, had facilitated a scam involving four current or former New York City school bus inspectors. The Maddalones allegedly demanded and received cash payments from bus companies participating in a federally-subsidized special education program. In return, they arranged for Sokol and three other bus inspectors – Neil Cremin, George Ortiz and Milton Smith – to overlook vehicle safety violations, falsify records that enabled the companies to overbill the city, and grant union members more lucrative routes. Ortiz and Cremin already have pleaded guilty.
ATU Local 1181 for nearly a decade had been controlled by aging Genovese crime boss Matty “the Horse” Ianniello, who pleaded guilty in 2006 to racketeering and tax evasion in an unrelated case. The national union during that time placed the local under trusteeship and replaced the corrupt leadership. In addition to serving their sentences, Nicholas and Paul Maddalone will have to pay restitution in the respective amounts of $45,000 and $31,000. Ira Sokol must pay $5,000 in restitution plus a $10,000 fine. The case followed a joint probe by the FBI and the U.S. Labor Department’s Office of Inspector General and Office of Labor-Management Standards.