Four Sentenced for Roles in Chicago HERE Contract Schemes

It may not have been an actual empire over which the Duff family presided in their native Chicago.  But it was hardly a Mom-and-Pop operation either.  Family patriarch John Duff, Jr., his wife Patricia, and their sons had grown wealthy over the decades, having cultivated ties both to City Hall and the underworld.  But the past few years have seen the Duffs fall upon hard times, after lengthy investigations by the Labor Department’s Office of Labor-Management Standards (OLMS) and Office of Inspector General, plus the FBI and the IRS.  The most important chapter may have been closed in U.S. District Court this May 18-20, with the sentencing of four persons for fraud, money laundering and racketeering.


The actions were not the first aimed at reining in the Duffs.  Back in 2000 a federally-appointed monitor, Kurt Muellenberg, banned John Duff III from the Hotel Employees and Restaurant Employees for life, Read More ➡

Boston ILA Dockworkers Padding Payrolls with Child “Workers”

conley-shipping-terminalDid you hear the one about the two-year-old longshoreman? Neither had most people in Massachusetts – until recently. But truth is stranger than fiction. An ongoing investigation into hiring practices on the Boston docks has revealed the existence of a racket that for nearly two decades has hired children as ghost employees. It’s a scheme with union fingerprints all over it. Massachusetts Attorney General Thomas F. Reilly is probing allegations that three locals affiliated with the International Longshoremen’s Association (ILA) have been inflating their members’ wages. And he’s more than likely to come up with large group of culprits.


The arrangement works like this: The local issues a child, typically the son or daughter of a union member, a union card. That way, the kid qualifies as an employee. All he has to do is “work” a few hours a year. Once he’s old enough to get a real job Read More ➡

Co-Conspirator in Pension Scam Testifies Before Congress

It was the largest case of pension fraud in U.S. history.  And it played a major part in how one firm in short order managed to lose $350 million, mostly in the form of union investments.  A convicted mastermind of the scheme, Barclay Grayson, now out of prison, is seeking to make amends.  He recently provided a Congressional panel with some practical advice on how to prevent repeat performances.   


Grayson was president of a now-defunct Portland, Ore.-based investment group, Capital Consultants LLC.  In testimony June 9 before the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee, he explained how he and several associates had built their company on an edifice of mail fraud, money laundering, bribery and racketeering.  That Capital Consultants (CCL) managed to operate in this manner for as long as it did, explained Grayson, was due in part to the Department of Read More ➡

Former Iowa Secretary Sentenced for Embezzlement

On May 12, Amanda Kemmer, ex-secretary for Bricklayers Local 3 in the Des Moines area, was given a 24-month prison sentence plus three years probation, and was ordered to pay full restitution for embezzling union funds.  Kemmer pleaded guilty last December in federal court to stealing more than $209,000 over the period January 1997-April 2004.  She’d pocketed about $175,000 of that by using a rubber stamp to write herself checks, and raked in the rest by altering pay stubs and pilfering cash.   (OLMS, 5/27).


Indictment of Pittsburgh-Area Bookkeeper Unsealed

On May 11, an indictment against Patricia Longbon, ex-bookkeeper for the AFL-CIO’s Building and Construction Trades Department (BCTD) of Southwestern Pennsylvania, was unsealed after a year-long delay.  Longbon had been indicted on 25 counts in connection with embezzlement of $10,157 of union funds, and two counts of creating false financial records.  The delay was Read More ➡

Rhode Island Laborers Steward and Mafia Soldier Plead Guilty

Matthew Guglielmetti’s career as a made man is over. But that doesn’t mean he’ll be cooperating with authorities to end other careers in the New England criminal underworld. That’s what his attorney, at least, is counting on. On May 13, Guglielmetti, standing before U.S. District Judge Ernest Torres, pleaded guilty to attempted cocaine-trafficking charges. His arrest back in January was a classic sting of a union whose top leadership long had worked with organized crime figures. Back in 1995 LIUNA, well documented to be in cahoots with mobsters, had averted a federal RICO suit by agreeing to a supervised internal cleanup.


Providence, in particular, was of interest to the Justice Department. The city and surrounding area was the home turf of then-union president Arthur A. Coia, who, like his father, Arthur E. Coia, himself a ranking union official, had worked with New England’s Patriarca crime family. The younger Read More ➡

Niagara Falls Goon Set to Testify Against Ex-Colleagues

For years it was an unwritten law that to get something built in Niagara County, N.Y. a contractor had to hire workers from Laborers Local 91.  Disobey that law, and there could be trouble – like extortion, vandalism, death threats and assaults.  For years Anthony Cerrone helped carry out the local’s dirty work.  But now, as a convicted man, he’s got himself a new employer.


Cerrone, 39, is set to testify for the prosecution in the upcoming trial of nine former officials of Local 91 of the Laborers International Union of North America (LIUNA), including ex-president Mark Congi.  He doesn’t have much choice, given that he’s facing a sentence of up to 20 years.  Cerrone, along with Steven Markle, 43, was convicted this January for his role in an attack on non-union tile setters at a supermarket construction site in September 1998.  Read More ➡

Gambino Enforcer for Staten Island, N.Y. Racket Talking to Feds

howland-hookNobody doubted Primo Cassarino’s street credibility.  A hardcore soldier with the Gambino crime family, he was an enforcer for shipping docks boss Anthony “Sonny” Ciccone.  Cassarino was so fearless that not long ago he’d been convicted for shaking down tough-guy action-film star Steven Seagal.  But in the wake of a two-year probe by the Waterfront Commission, he’s been telling federal and state agents what he knows.  That knowledge may be enough to take down the top brass of Local 1814 of the International Longshoremen’s Association (ILA) – and some key associates. 

Investigators this decade have been focusing their energies on the Staten Island docks, which like those in nearby Brooklyn, long have been Gambino-controlled.  Cassarino last August received an 11-year, three-month federal prison sentence for his role in the operation.  Ciccone, Gambino boss Peter Gotti (brother of late boss John Gotti), and several other Gambino figures also were convicted.  Read More ➡

Circuit Court Upholds Union Reporting Rules – Up to a Point

A U.S. Appeals Court has served notice to the nation’s organized labor leaders that full financial disclosure is not an option, but a necessity. But in rendering its two decisions on May 31 it appeared to be sending mixed signals. In AFL-CIO v. Chao, by a 3-0 margin, the U.S. Court of Appeals, District of Columbia Circuit, upheld a set of regulations the Department of Labor had unveiled a little over two years ago that required unions to spell out in greater detail how they spend their money. The AFL-CIO had challenged the new rule, claiming that the new reporting requirements created an undue burden on unions and that Labor Secretary Elaine Chao lacked the authority to expand the existing requirements. But the circuit court rejected these claims, arguing that since union expenditures are derived from worker dues, workers have the right to see, as much as possible, where Read More ➡

Two Boston-Area Union Members Indicted for Loan Sharking

On Monday, May 16, the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Boston announced the arrests and four-count indictment of Virgil “Duke” Farese, 72, of Framingham, Mass., and James Armstrong, 39, of Boston.  The two men, alleges the indictment, from February 1997 through December 2000, lent money at usurious rates to fellow members of their union, Tunnel Workers Local 88.  Based on a joint federal-local investigation, Farese and Armstrong indicated to borrowers they would have to get violent in the event of a late payment.  The cost of a loan was steep, carrying a weekly interest rate of 10 percent.  If convicted, the two men face up to 20 years in prison and a $250,000 fine on each of the four loan-sharking charges.   (PR Newswire Association, 5/16).  



Kansas Truck Drivers’ Union Official Pleads Guilty to Embezzlement

On Wednesday, May 11, Daniel Van Becelaere Read More ➡

Queens (N.Y.) Union Stewards and Contractor Exposed in Bribery Scandal

Hiring carpenters at below union-scale wages and benefits can be profitable – for union shop stewards as well as contractors.  That’s what a federally-appointed monitor of New York City’s District Council of Carpenters found after an extensive investigation into allegations of bribery at local construction sites. 


The monitor, Walter Mack, a former federal prosecutor, issued a report on May 5, concluding that a Queens-based construction firm, Boom Construction Enterprises, had made payoffs to Carpenters’ Union shop stewards at several construction project sites.  In one case, at Bronx’s Jacobi Medical Center, stewards omitted mention of two to six workers from their daily employee reports.  The probe began shortly after a union business agent told Mack’s office about an anonymous tip he’d received.   


Boom’s owner, Derek McKenna, paid union stewards $200 to $800 per week, more than $80,000 in all.  A bartender at O’Shea’s Read More ➡

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