Top Boss Goes to Prison for Union Embezzlement

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"[H]e thought of himself first and the union members second. He and other members of his family used the union as a personal asset," said U.S. Labor Department's Joseph S. Wasik in discussing Joseph C. Talarico, the now-former Int'l. Secretary-Treasurer (i.e. #2 post) of the United Food & Commercial Workers Int'l. Union. Talarico was sentenced Jul. 28 in U.S. District Court to 30 months in prison and ordered to pay $1.1 million restitution to UFCW Local 1 in Utica, NY, for embezzling over $925,000 from union members. He was banned from union office for 13 years.

But the scheme that ran 1984-97 went beyond Joseph Talarico, who was the Local 1 president before he took his int'l. union post in 1995, to include his brother, son, daughter and brother-in-law. The Talaricos illegally used union funds for a wide range of personal purposes, including landscaping and lavish renovations to their homes. Joseph Talarico also had the hair on his head paid for with money stolen from Local 1. According to the U.S. Attorney's Office, union funds paid for the boss' $10,000 hair transplant and a union airplane flew him from Washington to Saratoga Springs, NY, where the hair job was done. The embezzled funds were on top of the family's already lavish annual compensation from the union. The Talaricos made more than $1 million in union salaries and legitimate expenses in 1996. "It sounds like greed to me," said Assistant U.S. Attorney Andrew T. Baxter.

The other family members face similar situations. This ended the Talaricos' grip on Local 1 that dates back to 1953 when Joseph Talarico's father Samuel J. Talarico, Sr., founded it. [Buffalo News 07/30/98, BNA Daily Labor Report 07/29/98 & Utica Observer-Dispatch 02/10/98]