Guilt by association isn’t the way justice operates in this country. Still, there are a few people out there scrutinizing the associations of Paramus, N.J. Administrator Anthony Iacono. Iacono, hired by the Borough of Paramus this past August, had been a member of Hotel Employees and Restaurant Employees International Union Local 69 until he resigned in 2002. His resignation, noted the union public review board, had an ulterior motive: to avoid talking to an investigator working for a federal monitor assigned to oversee the affairs of HERE. He might have had good reason.
The monitor, Kurt Muellenberg, in 1996 ordered the removal of Local 69 President John Agathos, Sr., on the grounds that he was an associate of the Genovese crime family and had embezzled funds. A Department of Labor Office of Inspector General Report had concluded that Agathos “embezzled approximately $150,000 from the local.” Additionally, he had received $542,000 in unauthorized severance benefits from a subsequent Local 69 president, David Feeback, who was ousted by the international union in March 2002. HERE President John Willhelm proceeded to put the Secaucus, N.J.-based local under trusteeship. The Department of Justice also named gave Muellenberg a second tour of duty, appointing him as monitor of the local.
Iacono, 45, formerly town administrator for Secaucus, N.J., has been a longtime friend of the Agathos family. The friendship led to his being hired as a part-time maitre d’ at two family-owned restaurants, the Pegasus and the Stadium Club, two jobs he still holds. Most of the members of Local 69 are food service workers at the Meadowlands Sports Complex in Rutherford, N.J. He insists those jobs ought to have no bearing on his performance as a ranking Paramus municipal employee at a salary of $135,000. “Nobody has anything on me,” said Iacono. “There’s no law that says who you can or can’t be friends with.” Local officials, aware of his past, also are confident he’s the right man for the job. “He had made me comfortable that was in the past and didn’t affect his job,” said Mayor James Tedesco. “As far as Paramus is concerned, it’s not an issue.” One hopes the rest of Paramus winds up as confident. (Associated Press, 11/2/07).