Considering the size of his take, James J. Kearney Jr. probably got off easy. On May 10, Kearney, formerly secretary-treasurer of Local 45 of the International Association of Bridge, Structural, Ornamental and Reinforcing Iron Workers (IAIW), was sentenced in Trenton federal court to 30 months in prison and three years probation for embezzling more than $560,000 from the Jersey City, N.J. construction union. He also will have to pay full restitution and a $100 special assessment. Kearney pleaded guilty last November. This case is separate from an ongoing one involving his father, former Local 45 business manager James Kearney Sr., arrested last November for soliciting and receiving cash bribes to allow contractors to hire nonunion workers. The international union late last year placed the local under trusteeship.
James Kearney, Jr., 44, a resident of Bayonne, N.J., during June 2007-September 2010 served as secretary-treasurer for Ironworkers Local 45, which represents about 280 workers. From January 2009 onward, say prosecutors, Kearney withdrew approximately $471,000 in cash from the union’s Bank of America general fund account. In addition, he pocketed, rather than deposited, $90,365 worth of membership dues, miscellaneous fees, and dinner dance tickets. The $561,365 grand total went for personal use, especially paying off debts incurred from sports betting. When confronted with clear evidence of missing funds, Kearney admitted wrongdoing. Meanwhile, Iron Workers headquarters in Washington, D.C. reportedly is in the process of merging Local 45 and a few other New Jersey affiliates into Local 11 in Bloomfield, N.J. The Jersey City union, like its Kearney leadership, appears to be history.