Niagara Enforcer Pleads Guilty to Racketeering

Another domino has fallen in the strange, violent saga of Laborers Local 91.  For years the local dictated the terms of hiring at construction sites in Niagara County, N.Y.  Their targets were nonunion workers and any contractor foolish enough to hire them.  Their preferred methods of enforcement were vandalism, assault and extortion.  In a predawn raid in 2002 federal agents arrested more than a dozen union members.  In recent weeks, two of them, Anthony Cerrone and Andrew Shomers, pleaded guilty to racketeering.

 

Reading the tea leaves, Salvatore Bertino has become the next to go down.  The 53-year-old former local vice president pleaded guilty on Tuesday, June 21 to racketeering conspiracy.  At his hearing, Bertino cited five incidents in which Local 91 President Mark Congi directed him and others to engage in extortion.  Seven other union officials, including Congi, are set Read More ➡

Colorado Meat Packers Ex-Vice President Indicted

ufcw_intl_logo_1_Working in a slaughterhouse was never for the weak of heart.  It’s understandable that people who make a living that way would want to indulge in a few luxuries once in a while.  But Stephen Bush, 43, former vice-president of United Food and Commercial Workers Local 990, believed that luxuries could be paid for out of the pockets of unsuspecting dues-paying members.  Now his career as an embezzler is as defunct as the local itself.  Bush was indicted on June 20 by a federal grand jury in Denver on 51 counts of embezzlement following a Department of Labor probe.

 

Labor Department officials for years had been investigating financial irregularities at the local, which at one point represented some 2,800 meat-processing plant workers in Greeley, Colo.  Certain plant employees contacted the department to initiate an investigation.  As it turned out, Bush likely used his union credit card to buy $22,514 Read More ➡

Bonanno Crime Boss Gets Two Life Terms

They still call Joseph Massino “the Last Don.”  But the 62-year-old boss of New York’s Bonanno crime family doesn’t have much of an organization to run anymore.  Even Casablanca, the three-star restaurant in Queens that he co-owns, is now part of his past.  On Thursday, June 23 a federal judge in Brooklyn, N.Y. made certain of that.

 

“As boss of the Bonanno family, I gave the order,” said Massino.  He was referring to his order to murder Gerlando Sciacia, a family captain whose body later was found in the Bronx.  Massino was convicted for that crime, and for racketeering, last year.  He was ordered to pay $10.3 million to the government as proceeds, a figure reduced to $9 million at the June hearing.  U.S. District Judge Nicholas G. Garaufis handed down two consecutive life sentences.  This past January Read More ➡

NW Indiana Carpenters Local Faces Takeover by International Union

United Brotherhood of Carpenters and Joiners Local 1005 has a major problem on its hands:  The person who runs it is under indictment.  Paul Hernandez, president of the Hobart, Ind.-based local, with more than 1,100 members, was charged in federal court in May with 21 counts of theft and wire fraud.  Also indicted was Kenneth Castaldi, of Elkton, Wisc., who ran the local’s apprenticeship program.  At issue was the pair’s handling of an Indiana Department of Commerce training grant.

A three-member panel of the international union is set to hold a hearing on July 6 to give rank-and-file members the opportunity to voice their concerns.  “We’ve been receiving complaints about (Local) 1005 from members for a long time, and they increased after Paul Hernandez was indicted,” said Tony Mroczkiewicz, the union’s Midwest District representative.  Hernandez had taken over the local after Gerry Nannenga was elevated to secretary-treasurer of the Indiana-Kentucky Read More ➡

Delaware Ex-Treasurer Sentenced

On June 8 in U.S. District Court, Julie Messick, former treasurer for Carpenters Local 2001, was sentenced to one year of probation for embezzling union funds.  Back in February Messick had pleaded guilty following an investigation by the Labor Department’s Office of Labor-Management Standards.  She already has made restitution of nearly $11,800.  (OLMS, 6/28). 

  

California Ex-Secretary Pleads Guilty to Embezzlement  

On June 20, Martha Bautista, former secretary-treasurer for Local Lodge 1528 for the Machinists union, pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court to embezzling union funds of an amount of more than $5,000 but less than $10,000.  But her real haul was a lot more than what she’d been charged with taking.  On May 6 Bautista had made an initial payment of $50,000 toward the $165,259.27 in restitution due to the union.  (OLMS, 6/28). 

 

Former President of NYC Union 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 ➡

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 ➡

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 ➡

Niagara County Thug Pleas Guilty, Flips for Prosecution

Upstate New York’s modern version of Peck’s Bad Boys, Local 91 of the Laborers union – at least as it had operated until three years ago – is one step closer to oblivion.  Only recently a local ex-goon, Anthony Cerrone, agreed to testify for the prosecution in the upcoming trial of more than a half-dozen former members.  That announcement apparently has made an honest man out of at least one defendant.

 

Andrew Shomers, 42, of Niagara Falls, admitted on June 10 that he took part in union-orchestrated threats, vandalism and a firebombing to intimidate people in county construction trades.  A former boxer and Navy veteran, Shomers pleaded guilty to racketeering conspiracy.  He faces up to 20 years in prison, but by cooperating as a trial witness, he could get that reduced to 51 months.

 

This latest development is bad news for former Read More ➡

Politically-Connected Philly Muslim Cleric Convicted

These haven’t been the best of months for Philadelphia’s city government, dogged by a string of well-publicized corruption trials.  On Tuesday, June 14, a friend of Mayor John F. Street, Shamsud-din Ali, leader of a West Philadelphia mosque and operator of a shell Islamic “school,” was convicted on 22 of 34 counts of racketeering, fraud and other offenses.   The U.S. Attorney’s Office had argued, with ample evidence, that Ali had led a criminal enterprise, protected by City Hall, raising large sums of money from public and private sources. 

 

Ali, his wife and their children lived the good life, favoring expensive suits, cars and restaurant meals.  That lifestyle was made possible through years of loans, contracts and donations obtained through fraud and extortion.  That included a $60,000 pay-for-play commission from the City in return for support of Mayor Street.  Unions gave generously, too.  In 1999 Ali received a Read More ➡