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.
Organized labor, masters of aggressive politics, had its share of triumphs in 2010. With Democrats, their natural ally, the previous year having taken control of the White House and the Senate while increasing their advantage in the House, this was to be expected. AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka and other union officials used their window of opportunity to pressure Congress into passing a health care overhaul mandating unprecedented degrees of government intrusion, and by extension, major opportunities for unionization of the health care labor force. They also secured key presidential appointments.
Standing before a judge in Manhattan federal court on Friday, November 19, Michael Forde learned the price of high living and the crime that made it possible: 11 years in prison. For some members of the organization he once headed, the New York District Council of Carpenters and Joiners, that isn't long enough. Forde had pleaded guilty to racketeering, bribery and perjury in late July in connection with taking as much as $1 million in illegal contractor bribes and skimming many millions more from union benefit funds. The Justice Department uncovered the scheme as part of a probe that recently netted guilty pleas from eight persons and the jury conviction of Genovese crime family-linked contractor Joseph Olivieri. In addition to serving time, Forde must forfeit $100,000 in cash, pay a $50,000 fine, and pay restitution that union officials put at $18 million.
For union officials who wanted to line their pockets with benefit payments intended for members, Joseph Olivieri was the man to see. Now they will have to go elsewhere. This Wednesday a Manhattan federal jury found Olivieri, ex-executive director of the Long Island-based Association of Wall, Ceiling & Carpentry Industries (WC&C), guilty of perjury in a case that underscored the extent of Genovese crime family control of New York City-area construction contractors and unions. As part of the Justice Department racketeering probe, former Carpenters & Joiners District boss Michael Forde and eight other defendants already had pled guilty. Olivieri, currently out on $500,000 bond, faces up to five years in prison plus prosecution for four other charges, including conspiracy and fraud.
Readers of Union Corruption Update know that the New York City District Council of Carpenters and member locals have been plagued by corruption - and prosecutions. So far at least nine defendants have copped a plea following a lengthy federal probe. Ousted District boss Michael Forde pleaded guilty late in July to racketeering and faces an 11-year sentence. A former Carpenters Local 608 steward, Michael Brennan, pleaded guilty to bribery-related charges that month, as did an ex-president of that local, John Greaney. Less known perhaps is that these and other Carpenters officials allegedly lined their pockets with key help from developer Joseph Olivieri. When Olivieri goes on trial in October for conspiracy, bribery and perjury, he's sure to face tough questions about his reported go-between role for the union and the Genovese crime family.
When it comes to corruption in New York City-area unions, Local 608 of the United Brotherhood of Carpenters and Joiners long has been a leader. Last Tuesday, July 6, federal prosecutors realized a major step in its cleanup program at that organization. Michael Brennan, a former local shop steward, pleaded guilty to taking bribes from a contractor in return for allowing that contractor to hire illegal immigrants off the books. Brennan was one of several defendants, including soon-to-be-ousted New York City District Council of Carpenters Executive Secretary-Treasurer (and former Local 608 President) Michael Forde, charged last August in Manhattan federal court with offenses in a larger racketeering probe.
The last two times out, Michael Forde was a lucky man. His luck has appeared to run out. On August 5, the 54-year-old Forde, longtime executive secretary-treasurer of the New York City District Council of Carpenters and Joiners, was arraigned in Manhattan federal court after being slapped with a 29-count indictment for taking bribes from contractors in return for helping them avoid making required contributions to union benefit funds, among other offenses. Five days later he was fired from his post. His criminal case will move on, however. He and nine other defendants have pleaded not guilty to various racketeering charges following a lengthy federal and city joint probe. It's not the first time that officials of the mob-connected union have been accused of selling out rank and file for personal gain.
Three years ago Michael Forde was one lucky man.As president of one of the nation’s most powerful construction labor organizations, the 25,000-member New York District Council of the United Brotherhood of Carpenter and Joiners, Forde had been convicted in April 2004 for taking payoffs from a mob-linked contractor, part of a larger web of criminal activity involving the union.He and District Council Business Agent Martin Devereaux each were facing up to 25 years in prison. But their lawyers successfully persuaded Manhattan Supreme Court Judge Jeffrey Atlas to throw out the convictions on grounds of juror misconduct.Now, after numerous delays, Forde and Devereaux are set to stand trial again starting November 26.
Michael Forde, head of the New York City District Council of Carpenters, has led a charmed life for the past year.On April 27, 2004, a jury found Forde and a co-defendant guilty of taking a bribe from a mob-controlled contractor.However, because of a legal technicality, he continues to run the 25,000-member union.
Michael Forde, the president of the NY Dist. Council of Carpenters, and a bus. agent named Martin Devereaux, were convicted on April 27 of taking a bribe from a mob-run contractor to keep union wrkrs. off its projects.Essential to the conviction, as reported by Tom Robbins of the Village Voice, was the contractor, Sean Richard, the ex-son-in-law of the imprisoned boss of the DeCalvacante crime family, John Riggi.