The Manhattan Dist. Atty. charged 38 union bosses, contractors and reputed mobsters with bribery, bid-rigging or other racketeering schemes Sept. 6 that allegedly siphoned millions from construction projects in the last two years. Reputed boss of the Luchese crime family, Steven L. Crea, was the leading figure named in the 57-count indictment. Allegedly, he has played a role in construction racketeering schemes for decades.
The indictment charged 11 union bosses, including Michael Forde, who heads the Dist. Council of Carpenters in N.Y.C. and the United Bhd. of Carpenters Local 608. Both organizations have a history of mob influence. Forde's father ran the local and was convicted of taking bribes in 1990. Forde and Local 608 business agent Martin Deveraux were charged with taking bribes to allow contract violations. Also, Gerald Woods, the secretary-treasurer and business manager of UBC's N. N.J. Reg'l Council, was indicted for taking bribes to allow contract violations and improperly signing agreements to let N.J. contractors work on N.Y.C. job sites without having to sign contracts with Local 608.
Am. Fed'n of State, County & Mun. Employees Dist. Council 37 in N.Y. seized another of its 56 locals Jan. 28 after an audit found over $100,000 in questionable spending by Local 1508 president Al Cannizzo. He allegedly had the local reimburse him $15,000 for 215 visits to the Golden Gate Motor Inn, a Brooklyn "short-stay motel" from Jan. 1995 and Dec 1998. It's not known exactly what Cannizzo did during his stays at the motel, where rates are $53 for a four-hour stay and $110 for the night. He reportedly often checked in during the afternoon and stayed a couple of hours.
In addition to the motel stays, Cannizzo reportedly had the union pay personal credit card expenses of $3,650, make a $1,650 personal loan payment and pay $270 for a family member's psychiatric exam. The auditors also questioned more than $43,000 in bills for car phones and pagers. Cannizzo's expenditures have been reportedly referred to Manhattan Dist. Atty. Robert M. Morgenthau.
Two ex-staffers of AFSCME DC37 have accused its benefits fund of illegally diverting money toward the union's political activities and fraudulently obtaining overpayments in contributions from the city. Harold Hofmann, the fund's ex-director of computer systems, and a staffer, Anthony Lawson, have filed a civil racketeering suit charging DC37, its benefits fund and several union bosses with using fund money for politics, no-show jobs, a girlfriend and other improper expenses.
The federal suit raises serious questions about DC37's benefits fund, which had not been previously connected, publicly, to the widespread criminal corruption investigation of DC37 over the past year. The fund takes in over $100 million in annual contributions from the city. But, union sources said that the Manhattan Dist. Atty., Robert M. Morgenthau, had subpoenaed many documents from the union and from the benefits fund.
Despite suffering an embarrassing 27 indictments in recent months, the Am. Fed. of State, County & Municipal Employees Dist. Council 37's corruption parade may not be over. Reportedly, Manhattan Dist. Atty. Robert M. Morgenthau plans to empanel a new grand jury in Sep. to hear new evidence about wrongdoing by DC37 bosses. In addition to more vote fraud investigations, Morgenthau is also reportedly examining alleged kickbacks from insurance firms and union attorneys. Prosecutors are also investigating allegations of mob-influence within some DC37's locals. [N.Y. Times 7/12/99]
Morgenthau is also reviewing expenses of Local 420 headed by reputed-reformer and 27-year incumbent James Butler. The probe reportedly include Butler's expenses, which appear to be personal, and building fund that paid for demolition work that apparently never occured. [N.Y. Post 7/7/99]
QUOTABLE QUOTE "As long as you have a pulse and pay your union dues, the AFL-CIO is there to wipe up your drool."
IBT imposed a trusteeship Jun. 18 on Local 19 in Grapevine, Tex. J.D. Potter headed Local 19 who was disqualified from holding office for campaign finance violations and was a running mate of IBT boss James P. Hoffa. The justification for the takeover was the local leadership's failure to adequately serve the members. Louisville, Ky., Local 2727 boss, Joe Darmento was named trustee and Local 19 business manager Mike Ellison, deputy trustee. IBT spokesman Bret Caldwell said the decision to move against a former campaign slate member shows that the Hoffa administration is prepared to take action regardless of the local leadership. "This is not politics," he said. "We're here for the members." Potter also faces pending IRB charges of lying to election officials and IRB investigators about his campaign contributions. [BNA 6/22/99]
Excerpts from Bob McManus column in Jun. 21 N.Y. Post:
"Once upon a time, and not all that long ago, New York was proudly and unambiguously union country. No more. As recently as 1983, more than 31% of the statewide private-sector workforce was organized - and all that it took to stir panic among New York City pols was a baleful glance from a municipal union boss. Last year, a scant 15.4 percent of New York's private-sector workers carried union cards - and fewer than that if publicly supported health-care unions are factored out of the equation.
And as for the public-sector unions - well, the less said the better. Scarcely a week goes by without another bunch of New York City labor bigs being hauled off in handcuffs. And the investigation continues.
On Jun. 15, Manhattan Dist. Atty. Robert M. Morgenthau indicted nine more bosses of the Am. Fed. of State, County & Municipal Employees Dist. Council 37 on union corruption charges, bringing to the number of bosses indicted in the recent scandal to a shocking 27.
Albert A. Diop, ex-Local 1549 president, was accused of directing an elaborate fraud resulting in the ratification of DC37's 1996 contract with N.Y.C. Martin Lubin, DC37 ex-associate director, was also indicted in the voting scheme. Diop also allegedly stole $1.6 million via various scams: He allegedly spent $270,000 in personal expenses on the union's credit card. He allegedly had the union spend over $500,000 for his penthouse. He allegedly took $817,000 in wrongful "hospitality money." He allegedly used $4,300 in unauthorized union funds for listening devices in DC37 offices after Morgenthau began his probe last year.
Expelled AFSCME Local 372 boss and prominent N.Y.C. politico, Charles Hughes, was indicted May 5 along with five others including son Martin Hughes and son-in-law James Rose. The crusading Manhattan Dist. Atty. Robert M. Morgenthau charged the six with stealing over $2.7 million from union coffers. Now nine bosses of the scandal-ridden AFSCME Dist. Council 37 have been indicted in the current corruption wave. Three others have pled guilty.
Hughes reportedly embezzled $100,000 for a trip for himself and 14 friends to Egypt, Israel, Prague, Paris and London. He allegedly charged $340,000 on the local's credit card for personal expenses, including some at Victoria's Secret. He reportedly paid $97,000 to friends living in his home-state of Ga. for no-show union jobs; prosecutors declined to connect the payments to Hughes' new $400,000 home in Millin, Ga. The indictment also stated that Hughes stole $700,000 in unearned overtime pay, $590,000 in unauthorized pay for attending board meetings and $163,000 in undocumented cash withdrawals.
A state racketeering indictment against the Newspaper & Mail Deliverers Union of N.Y. that was tossed out of court in 1996 has been reinstated. The indictment of NMDU resulted from a 1992 probe by Manhattan Dist. Atty. Robert M. Morgenthau which led to charges against 29 bosses for crimes including systematic theft, extortion and beatings. In an unprecedented legal move, Morgenthau charged the union itself with "pervasive and extreme" criminal conduct. Reportedly, NMDU top boss Douglas LaChance and others made deals with the Bonanno and Luchese crime families.
Initially, the case was dismissed by the late trial court judge, Harold Rothwax, who held that a union wasn't a "person" under the law, and it couldn't be charged. But an appellate court overruled Rothwax in Dec. 1998, and in Mar. 1999, N.Y.'s highest court declined to reconsider it. Top Morgenthau prosecutor Daniel Castleman said the ruling is an important legal victory: "It gives us the authority to indict a union." NMDU lawyer Kenneth O'Conner claims the union would appeal the case to the U.S. Supreme Court. [Daily News 4/19/99]
Manhattan Dist. Atty. Robert Morgenthau's probe of the scandal-ridden Am. Fed. of State, County & Municipal Employees' Dist. Council 37 won his first two indictments on Mar. 31. DC37 Local 384 president Francine Autovino and treasurer Connie Lango were indicted for stealing over $240,000 from union coffers. Both pled not guilty at their arraignments on charges of grand larceny and falsifying business records. Reportedly, both blamed the other for the missing thousands of dollars.
According to Morgenthau, Lango stole over $190,000 from May 1994 to Sep. 1995. She allegedly asked Local 384's bank to write checks payable to herself, credit-card companies and car leasing firms. Reportedly, Autovino took over $50,000 by double-dipping on car expenses, filing false receipts and giving her friends and relatives freebie trips. Her alleged schemes included submitting invoices for printing union brochures and then named herself as the payee. Investigators are still looking into jewelry purchases Autovino made on her union credit card.