Trusteeship Sought for Pittsburgh Local

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Why it's taken five years is unclear, but the failed "internal reform effort" of the Laborers' Int'l Union of N. Am. wants a trusteeship imposed on Local 1058 in Pittsburgh because of alleged ties to organized crime. No officers or executive board members of Local 1058 face criminal or union disciplinary charges. In his intra-union complaint dated Mar. 21, the ethically-challenged "in-house prosecutor," Robert D. Luskin, stated that Local 1058 bosses have had personal, family and business connections with Pittsburgh's La Cosa Nostra for 30 years. Luskin has run the failed "internal reform effort" since 1995, and it has reportedly cost LIUNA over $35 million.

Local 1058 retained ex-U.S. Atty. Frederick W. Thieman and ex-Asst. U.S. Atty. Stephen R. Kaufman. Thieman said accusations are mostly vague allegations against individuals who are being tarred with mob associations that stem from actions of their older and often long-dead relatives.

The complaint states every local boss since the 1960s has been appointed by people with ties to the mob and all appointees have run for reelection unopposed. It further states Joseph Laquatra, Local 1058's business manager, was hand-picked by his predecessor, Thomas Pecora, and John S. Larocca. Sr., the late LCN boss. It states Laquatra and others (including local president L. Dennis Martire and recording secretary Gerald Pecora, Jr.) often met with Larocca at his car wash business. Gerald Pecora's great-uncle, the late Joseph "Jo Jo" Pecora, controlled gambling in W. Va. until his death in 1991. John Larocca, Jr., has been vice president of the local since 1983.

It also states Laquatra has been responsible for appointing most current bosses such as secretary-treasurer Joseph Frydrych and board members Philip Ameris and Michael Laquatra.   Reportedly, Ameris is a son of the late Jimmy "The Greek" Ameris, Jr., who reportedly was a LCN associate.  Also named in the complaint is Mark Machi, a federal convict who resigned from the executive board last year after a dispute with Laquatra.

Local 1058 called the charges a "dangerous effort" by LIUNA and the government to deny workers their right to free speech. LIUNA's "in-house judge" said he will decide within two months if a trustee should be appointed. [Pitt. Trib.-Rev. 3/28/00, Pitt. Post-Gazette 3/29/00]

This all led the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review to insightfully editorialize on Apr. 1: "Luskin told the Trib this week that there is 'nothing unique' in his effort to determine if Local 1058's officers should be removed. It's 'just a further step in a long-running practice aimed at nationwide eradication of the organized crime influence from [LIUNA].' But if that's the case, why is the government-sanctioned internal investigator merely seeking removal from office? If such massive organized crime ties are suspected, why isn't prosecution on the table? No Local 1058 officers or board members face criminal charges that we know of. But the complaint for trusteeship clearly alleges a pattern of criminal association that should be the purview of a federal grand jury, not the independent investigator in a deal that smacks of Clinton justice and not the American system of justice."