Staten Island Politician Does Odd Deals with ILA; Mayor Doesn’t Mind

howland-hookMore than once they’ve been called “the odd couple” of New York City politics.  But an investigative report published in the October 25 edition of the Village Voice by Tom Robbins suggests the tight alliance between New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg and Staten Island Borough President James Molinaro, politically both Republicans but culturally worlds apart, goes well beyond typical City Hall back-scratching.  In fact, the author alleges, it has the blessing of a supporting cast of shady businessmen and local unions.  And this partnership has allowed certain elements of the Gambino and other crime families to operate with a freer hand than otherwise.


Bloomberg, whom Forbes magazine recently listed as worth $5 billion, is obviously too rich to be bought.  He has asserted repeatedly that he doesn’t govern on the basis of patronage.  But given that Staten Island went 4-to-1 for Bloomberg in his initial election in 2001, well…he Read More ➡

Duff Associate in Chicago Pleads Guilty to HERE Mail Fraud

The contracting fiefdom of Chicago’s Duff family all but ended in May with the sentencing of four top members and associates for various fraud, money-laundering and racketeering offenses.  Last month saw additional closure.  On October 20, Terrence Dolan, former operations manager for Windy City Maintenance, pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court to 11 counts of mail fraud.  Windy City, a Duff-owned business, falsely had filed as a woman-owned business in order to land a contract from the City of Chicago.


James Duff and William Stratton, respectively, ex-vice president and business agent of Local 3 of the Liquor and Wine Sales Representatives, an affiliate of the Hotel Employees and Restaurant Employees (HERE), had been two key principals in the larger scheme.  Duff, a close friend of Mayor Daley, already had pleaded guilty; Stratton, a black friend and minority-group “front,” later was convicted by a jury along with a Read More ➡

One Acquitted, Another Sentenced; San Diego’s Crisis Remains

Now that the federal government and the City of San Diego are done, for the time being, battling molehills, they will have more time for scaling mountains.  A recent federal court ruling should make for an easier transition.  On November 10, U.S. District Judge Jeffrey T. Miller took the unusual step of throwing out seven of nine guilty verdicts rendered by a jury this July against Michael Zucchet, a former city councilman, and very briefly, mayor.  “As happy as I am,” said Zucchet, “I’ll never get my name back.  I’ll never get my job back.  I’m financially ruined.  My physical and emotional health – and the health of my family – has been devastated.”  He’s a lucky man compared to ex-councilman colleague Ralph Inzunza.  Judge Miller handed down a 21-month sentence to Inzunza for extortion, fraud and conspiracy in connection with an Read More ➡

Virginia Beach Ex-Bookkeeper Pleads Guilty to Embezzlement

For nearly a half decade Marcia Huizenga thought nobody would figure out how all those extra paychecks managed to get cashed.  But in the end somebody did figure it out.  Huizenga, 48, formerly bookkeeper for Teamsters Local 822, pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court on November 4 to embezzling more than $47,000 in union funds.  A routine audit by the local discovered that from January 1999 to August 2003 she had prepared and cashed 77 extra paychecks for her own personal use.  Huizenga did not dispute the charge when confronted with the evidence.  Local 822 represents about 2,000 meat cutters, barbers, warehouse workers and other tradesmen in the Virginia Tidewater area.  (Associated Press, 11/5).


Niagara Falls Menace Sentenced; He’s in Good Company

The halls of justice have claimed another member of LIUNA Local 91’s criminal old guard that for a good half-dozen years Read More ➡

Pittsburgh-Area Bakery & Tobacco Workers Benefit Fund Administrator Arraigned

bakery-tobacco-workers-logoMarilyn Constable must be an incurable optimist.  The suburban Pittsburgh woman in late September was indicted by a federal grand jury on 15 counts of embezzlement.  Ms. Constable, 45, allegedly wrote out a dozen illegal checks totaling more than $7,500 from a death-benefits fund for members of Local 12 of the Bakery, Confectionery, Tobacco Workers and Grain Millers union.  She has pleaded not guilty.  The union, which represented employees at a now-closed Nabisco plant and elsewhere, since has merged into BC&T Local 19 in Cleveland.   

The indictment charged that Constable, as the fund administrator, diverted local funds for rent, cable TV, and other personal expenses.  Additionally, she was named last year in an ongoing Labor Department civil complaint seeking restitution.  The suit also named as defendants Local 19, two banks and several union and bakery industry officials who acted as trustees.  (Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, 10/26).Read More ➡

Former Secretary-Treasurer in California Pleads Guilty

On October 21, William Good Jr., ex-financial secretary-treasurer of Local Lodge 821 of the International Association of Machinists, pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court for the Central District of California to two counts of embezzling union funds totaling $192,469.  The guilty plea follows an investigation by the Labor Department’s Office of Labor-Management Standards and Office of Inspector General.  (OLMS, 11/10).   


Ex-Treasurer in Maryland Sentenced, Ordered to Pay Restitution

On October 18, Steven R. Fairfax, formerly secretary-treasurer of Branch 3939 of the National Association of Letter Carriers, was sentenced in U.S. District Court for the District of Maryland to five years of probation and 10 months of home confinement for embezzlement of union funds.  He also will have to make restitution to the union in the amount of $53,990.04.  He had been indicted this March.  The sentencing follows an investigation by the Department Read More ➡

Dozens of Imprisoned Mobsters, Associates Soon to Hit Streets

It usually takes more than a prison sentence to impress a career criminal to go straight, especially for someone in the Mafia. If and when released, it’s a fair bet he’ll continue doing the things that got him sent away in the first place. If the pattern holds, the next few years should see a large batch of familiar faces back in action. An unpublished federal document has revealed the names of dozens of currently imprisoned mobsters due for imminent release. Among their friends on the outside, especially in the New York City area, are crooked labor unions.


In an interagency memo, the U.S. Bureau of Prisons alerted the FBI to roughly 80 mobsters and associates set for release from prison by the start of 2007. The list, compiled this July, ought to serve as a reality check for those believing that the Mob, despite numerous recent setbacks, is on Read More ➡

One Mobster Testifies to Being Bagman for Longshoremen Corruption; Another Vanishes

peter-gottiPeter Gotti (in photo) may not get the press enjoyed by his late younger brother, Gambino crime boss John Gotti.  But as his successor to the family business, even if from a federal prison cell following racketeering and money-laundering convictions, Peter Gotti is every bit as versed in the art of putting the fear of God in a witness.  A convicted Gambino family soldier, Primo Cassarino, personally can vouch for that.  Another mobster, Genovese family capo Lawrence Ricci, isn’t talking – he recently “disappeared.”


Cassarino, 49, was convicted along with Gotti, and Gambino family captain Anthony “Sonny” Ciccone, back in March 2003 for shaking down action-film star Steven Seagal, among other offenses.  Now serving a 135-month sentence for racketeering and money-laundering, Cassarino has decided to play for the Justice Department’s team.  His October 18 testimony in a Brooklyn federal court in the trial of two ranking International Longshoremen Association (ILA) Read More ➡

New York Public Works Projects Saddled with ‘Mob Tax’

The going rate is 2 percent – the rate, that is, of buying labor peace in New York City.  It’s known colloquially as a ‘mob tax.’  In this scheme, a builder receiving a local or state government contract pays a mob-controlled union to look the other way in order to hire non-union help, and pockets the difference at taxpayers’ expense.  Should the contractor cut corners on materials quality or workplace safety standards, well…it’s someone else’s problem.  That’s the damning conclusion of a three-part series published in the New York Daily News in late September.  Reporter Greg B. Smith spent four months piecing together how an unholy alliance of corrupt contractors, mobsters, unions and (by implication) government officials has raised the cost of providing public amenities, often at substandard quality and with extensive delays.    


To many, the mob tax might seem the Read More ➡

Union Trust Fund Office Manager in Maryland Pleads Guilty

plasterers-and-cement-masons-logoJanice R. Hughes turned out to be someone who couldn’t be trusted – ironic, considering she and her partner had been ripping off a union trust fund for a half-decade.  On September 23, the Justice Department announced that Hughes, 68, a resident of Easton, Maryland, had pleaded guilty in federal court to six counts of bank fraud, five counts of mail fraud and two counts of money laundering.  Back in March a grand jury had indicted Hughes and Gilbert A. Wolf, 72, for defrauding their former employer, the National Plastering Industry’s Joint Apprenticeship Trust Fund, and a pair of federal agencies, of at least $917,000 during 1995-2000.    


Hughes was the office manager of the fund, a non-profit training organization run by the Operative Plasterers and Cement Masons International Association (OP & CMIA).  Wolf had served as its executive director.  The fund provided pre-apprenticeship career training for low-income youths Read More ➡