New York Boss Missing, Believed Dead

Ralph Coppola, a former United Brotherhood of Carpenters boss in N.Y., pled guilty in Sep. to a $1.2 million fraud and was set to receive a 24 to 30-month sentence in Nov. But, Coppola, an alleged Genovese crime family associate, has been missing for a month and is now believed to have been executed for pocketing money that should have been passed on to his Mafia superiors, according to  sources of the Daily News. If true, Coppola would be the first N.Y. boss to be killed since Oct. 1993, when a bloody intrafamily war left 10 dead. Those killings, and dozens more by the Gambinos and Lucheses, led to the Mafia’s ruling body to reportedly issue a no-killings directive until things cooled off. Coppola’s lawyer said it’s unlikely that he ran away because they had delayed his sentencing so he could be present for the birth of his third child, born in Oct. Authorities still question why Coppola’s body was not dumped in a visible place as a reminder to others to obey the rules. But an underworld source, told the Daily News the message had been received: “The people they’re looking to send a message to is not the entire public. It’s the mob itself, which totally understands that the guy is gone.” [Daily News 10/25/98]

New York Boss Linked to Mafia
According to FBI search warrants and wiretap affidavits recently obtained by the Village Voice, a vice president of the Union of Needletrades, Industrial & Textile Employees, Edgar Romney, has been implicated in a criminal probe that has already had 12 racketeering indictments. The boss allegedly participated in a scheme that used the threat of unionization as a lever to extract payoffs from nonunion firms. Romney, who hasn’t been charged, worked with an alleged mob lawyer in targeting companies in N.Y.’s Garment Center for “illegal labor peace payments,” according to a government affidavit. The lawyer, Irwin Schlacter, was indicted in Apr. 1998 with several Mafia members. That indictment said Schlacter and a reported Luchese crime family associate “used contacts with Garment Center unions to facilitate such extortion payments.” [Village Voice 10/20/98]

N.Y. Boss Linked to Org. Crime
The Waterfront Commission of N.Y. Harbor announced Oct. 28 the revocation of the registration of Louis A. Saccenti, an Int’l Longshoremen’s Ass’n vice president and Local 1235 boss.  The Commission alleges Saccenti is an associate of the Gambino organized crime family.  Administrative Law Judge Paul Bailey sustained 39 charges that Saccenti had lied under oath at Commission proceedings and that he lacked the requisite good character and integrity necessary to maintain his registration as a waterfront checker. The Commission further found that Saccenti associated with 38 members of the Gambino family, including John Gotti, from 1981-96 and that he lied under oath about these associations. The Commission also found that Saccenti bilked more than $1,700 from a union welfare fund.  In announcing their determination, Commissioners James H. Wallwork of N.J. and Michael C. Axelrod of N.Y. said that the Saccenti case is a prime example of the Commission carrying out its mandate to investigate, deter, combat, and remedy organized crime in N.Y. Harbor.

Kennedy, Union Rally Starts Brawl
Outside the final Mass. Gov. debate between Paul Cellucci (R) and Scott Harshbarger (D), there was another brawl. The reported source of tension was a Sen. Edward M. Kennedy (D-Mass.) led union rally for Harshbarger near Boston’s city hall with allegedly 5,000 electrical workers, carpenters, bricklayers, and pipefitters.  As the rally ended, the cabal made its way to the debate a few blocks away.  The swarming unionists enveloped a small group of Cellucci supporters and incited clashes. Fistfights exploded and campaign signs were torn up and used as weapons. A Boston Globe photographer was attacked for taking pictures of the rumble. “I can imagine when you stick a lot of people in such a small space that might happen,” said Robert Haynes, Mass. AFL-CIO president. [Boston Globe 10/27/98]

NLRB Takes on Las Vegas Unions
Picketing against merit-shop contractors in Las Vegas has turned violent after 3 months of attempts by the Building Trades Organizing Project to get a vote for union representation.  The BTOP is an AFL-CIO front for an alliance of 15 unions including the Teamsters and the Laborers (LIUNA) focusing on Las Vegas. Gregory Smith, an attorney representing one contractor recently announced that the Nat. Labor Relations Board issued “an extensive multiple-count complaint.” against BTOP based on evidence that union organizers had “threatened employees with physical harm, unlawfully impeded traffic, struck vehicles as they entered job sites, attempted to vandalize and destroy products on vehicles at job sites, entered the job sites themselves and removed tools from employees who were working and threw those tools into wet concrete, assaulted employees with bullhorns and attempted to physically force employees off the jobs.” A hearing is set for May 17, 1999. [Las Vegas Review-Journal 10/22/98]

Offical, Audits for All N.Y.C. Locals
The long expected audit of all 56 locals within Am. Fed. of State, County & Municipal Employees Dist. Council 37 in N.Y.C. by the national union was announced Oct. 26. This is on top of the Manhattan Dist. Attorney’s wide-ranging investigation into embezzlement and kickbacks. AFSCME’s ethically-challenged national president, Gerald W. McEntee, who has been linked to the Teamsters’ Ron Carey scandal, said of the audits he ordered: “This unprecedented action by the international union will give us a clear understanding of the financial integrity of the council and its local unions. Should any financial improprieties be uncovered in this investigation, they will be dealt with severely and quickly.” [N.Y. Times 10/27/98]

Union Radical Convicted of Spying
International labor organizer and activist and his former Pentagon-lawyer wife were convicted Oct. 23 of spying for the former East Germany, by a federal jury rejecting arguments that they had been unfairly entrapped in an FBI sting. The Alexandria, Va.-based jury found Kurt Alan Stand and Theresa Maria Squillacote guilty of a two-decade conspiracy to send classified information to East Germany and later sought to spy for Russia. Stand was a regional representative of the Int’l Union of Food & Allied Workers’ Ass’n based in Switzerland.  Prosecutors said that the East German government had recruited the two radicals during their college days at the Univ. of Wis.  They sought jobs in and around the federal government, and stole and smuggled classified documents, at the behest of their Communist spymasters. A 200-page FBI report said Stand was indoctrinated into Marxism as a child, and although he never held a government job, he recruited others into spying for over 20 years. “The defendants now stand convicted of betraying their country over the course of many years,” said an assistant U.S. Attorney. [A.P. & Wash. Post 10/24/98]