Prosecutors for the State of New York now are finding out how good it feels to get a conviction from its anti-racketeering “enterprise corruption” law. Fittingly, one of New York City’s most corrupt labor unions, Local 8 of the United Union of Roofers, Waterproofers and Allied Workers, has broken the ice. On September 19, the Genovese crime family-connected local admitted through its lawyer before the New York State Supreme Court that it was a criminal enterprise. The guilty plea was the culmination of an indictment in July 2004 of the entire local leadership, following a five-year investigation. In addition, a Genovese captain, John Barbato, was sentenced by the court to two to six years in prison for his role in an extortion scheme that enriched Local 8 bosses by $2 million at the expense of rank and file.
It began as extortion and morphed into bribery. Barbato, 72, a resident of Staten Island, led a shakedown operation of several New York City contractors to make sure they hired Local 8 labor. But after a while, contractors realized they had an opportunity on their hands to cut labor costs. Contractors paid union leaders the requisite money to buy “labor peace,” and then, with the blessing of the union and the mob, hired nonunion workers at less-than-union-scale wages, pocketing the difference. This scam actually represented a second wind for corruption. Back in 2000, two local business agents and several contractors had been indicted for similar offenses. Genovese family-linked Local 8 members rigged an election that elevated Anthony “Tony Muscles” Guardino to local business manager. Once in office, Guardino installed his own loyalists and transmitted the labor payoffs to Barbato.
As part of its guilty plea, the union must forfeit $200,000 and pay another $50,000 to finance the work of a court-appointed monitor with broad powers to root out corruption from the union. The national leadership of the Roofers union, based in Washington, D.C., has appointed a trustee to run Local 8 with the court monitor’s oversight. As for Barbato, his trip to prison follows in the footsteps of the two previous local business agents who pleaded guilty. Five other persons have pleaded not guilty, and are awaiting trial. (Associated Press, 9/19/06; other sources).