Corrupt construction union officials in the New York City area knew they had no better friend than Joseph Olivieri. That relationship formally ended last October when a jury in Manhattan federal court declared him guilty of perjury as part of a scheme to line union bosses’ pockets with would-be benefit contributions. Last Friday, June 3, Olivieri, the former head of a Long Island-based construction trade association, received his reward: an 18-month prison sentence plus three years of supervised release. He was one of 10 defendants convicted in the case and the eighth to be sentenced, though he was the only one to go to trial. Olivieri also will have to pay a $10,000 fine.
Joseph Olivieri, now 56, a resident of Briarcliff Manor, N.Y., for years had served as executive director of the Association of Wall, Ceiling, and Carpentry Industries of New York (WC&C), a Jericho, L.I.-based trade group with more than 200 member contractors. The Justice Department during the course of a racketeering probe discovered he was something else as well: a key associate of the Genovese crime family, especially convicted and now-deceased family capo Louis Moscatiello. For 15 years, prosecutors concluded, Olivieri was the pivot man in a scheme to siphon off some $10 million in scheduled contractor contributions to benefit plans sponsored by the Carpenters, Operating Engineers and Plasterers unions. Conveniently, he served as a trustee in a number of those plans. He allowed Moscatiello to assign union jobs and set contract bids in return for allowing contractors and union officials to loot benefit funds, often through assigning work under collective bargaining agreements to nonunion workers. Among those pleading guilty was former Carpenters Local 608 and District Council boss Michael Forde, who last November received an 11-year prison sentence for various offenses.
Olivieri was on trial for perjury for testimony he gave three years earlier at a deposition in a civil RICO case. He had claimed that he had no relationship with either Moscatiello or crooked contractor James Murray. Yet several witnesses at the jury trial testified that Olivieri not only knew these persons, but knowingly worked with them to fleece Carpenters benefit funds intended for rank-and-file members. After a one-week trial and four hours of deliberation, the jury convicted him. The conviction followed a joint FBI-Labor Department investigation. Two other defendants who have entered guilty pleas, former Michael Forde wingman John Greaney and Northern New Jersey contractor Finbar O’Neill, have yet to be sentenced.