The year 2018 produced plenty of high-volume scams and often their resolution. New York City played host to a bumper crop of outrages, so one might as well start there. For sheer size, nothing anywhere could match the fraud surrounding the construction of Hudson Yards, a massive mixed-use development on Manhattan’s West Side. Set for completion in 2024, the project from the start has been a source of dirty money for unions affiliated with the AFL-CIO-affiliated Building and Construction Trades Council of Greater New York. The general contractor, Related Companies, having reached the limits of frustration, filed suit in the State Supreme Court against the council and its president, Gary LaBarbera, for various illegal practices allegedly adding (so far) over $100 million to the project cost.
First, the union leader pleaded guilty. Then, it was his business partner’s turn. On December 14, Lawrence Ackerman, head of a pair of shell insurance brokerages, pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court for the District of New Jersey to a superseding information for health care fraud, part of a long-running scheme that fleeced a United Auto Workers benefit plan and a Blue Cross Blue Shield affiliate out of a combined $6.6 million. He had been indicted in January 2017. Sergio Acosta, former president of United Auto Workers Local 2326, pleaded guilty to his role in the scam last April. The actions follow a joint investigation by the U.S. Labor Department’s Office of Labor-Management Standards, Office of Inspector General and Employee Benefits Security Administration.