A father and son who were former union officials were convicted Nov. 4 in an embezzlement scheme that federal prosecutors said drained over $350,000 from the welfare fund of a garment workers union. A federal jury got the case Wednesday afternoon. It returned Thursday afternoon and convicted both men on all counts they faced: Joseph Nardone Sr., 80, conspiracy; and Joseph Nardone Jr., 50, conspiracy and embezzlement.
The elder Nardone was founder and retired president of Local 148 the Intl. Novelty Workers Union in Jersey City. His son also served as president, and was recently removed as administrator of its welfare fund. Other officers of the union have also been convicted, and Local 148 remains under a court-ordered trusteeship because of corruption. The investigation into Local 148 also resulted in the conviction of business agents Edward Bigham Sr. and Joseph Girlando, Local Vice President Edward Bigham Jr., and construction subcontractors Steven Freeman and Stanley Rothman.
Prosecutors charged that the Nardones stole the money from 1996 to 2001, in part by authorizing unneeded construction projects at the union's Jersey City headquarters. The six-week trial included six days of testimony from Rothman, a builder who had been indicted last year with Nardone Jr., pled guilty and became a government witness. Rothman testified that he skimmed $250,000 from inflated costs of the projects and split the money with Nardone Sr., prosecutors said.
The conspiracy also included the purchase of three lots near the local office for $300,000. When Rothman paved a parking lot on the property, he inflated the price and pocketed $95,000. In March 1996 a federal judge barred Nardone Jr. from the position of administrator of the local's welfare fund, but he continued in that role until his indictment.
The Nardones face a maximum sentence of five years in prison and fines of up to $250,000 when they are sentenced on Feb. 15 by U.S. Dist. Court Judge Jose L. Linares (N.J., G.W. Bush). Local 148 is currently under federal court-ordered trusteeship because of corruption. [Newsday, 11/4/04: The Jersey Journal, 11/5/04]