Nicholas Manocchio’s offenses didn’t involve a lot of money, but considering his mob bloodlines, he might consider himself lucky anyway. On Friday, July 31, the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Providence, R.I. announced that Manocchio, director of the New England Regional Organizing Fund of the Laborers International Union of North America (LIUNA), had pleaded guilty to conspiracy to receiving cash and other things of value from building contractors with LIUNA-affiliated employees. At a separate hearing in the same federal court, Gerald Diodati, a local construction contractor, pleaded guilty to making unlawful payments to LIUNA officials who included Manocchio. Following the May guilty plea of a third defendant, ex-Laborers regional organizer Harold Tillinghast Jr., prosecutors appear to have closed the book on a scheme that began with an FBI probe more than a half-dozen years ago.
Last fall, Union Corruption Update reported in detail on how the worlds of the Providence construction industry, organized labor and the Patriarca crime family came together. Tillinghast’s father, Harold Tillinghast Sr., was a longtime Patriarca crime family member and convicted murderer; Manocchio was a nephew of reputed Patriarca boss Louis Manocchio, and had done time for a 1980 manslaughter. The three defendants, by contrast, were minor league players. The FBI in 2002 had initiated a sting operation, an effort to clean up corruption in the city’s construction industry. It opened up a front company called “Hemphill Construction,” offering bribes to contractors and Laborers officials involved in a redevelopment project, secretly taping conversations. The alleged offenses occurred over the course of 2003. Federal agents raided Tillinghast’s union office in 2005 and turned over evidence of a bribery scheme in the four figures to prosecutors. A federal grand jury last October charged Tillinghast and Diodati with conspiring to receive kickbacks. Tillinghast’s boss, Manocchio, was indicted the following month.
Had the case gone to trial, argues Vincent Falvo, a lawyer with the Justice Department’s Organized Crime and Racketeering Section, the defendants would have been proven guilty. Evidence was overwhelming that they had used Hemphill Construction and the Diodati-owned Rhode Island Demolition to bribe LIUNA officials and employees. The Taft-Hartley Act bars employers from paying money or other things of value to “any labor organization, or any officer or employee thereof which represents, seeks to represent, or would admit to membership, any employees of such employer.” The three defendants are free on bond until their sentencing hearing scheduled for November 13.