Stephen Arena and David Caivano made sure nobody would look while they looted their union’s general and benefit funds. In the end, federal prosecutors are doing the looking. On Tuesday, September 21, Arena and Caivano, respectively, president and secretary-treasurer of Local 148 of the International Union of Allied Novelty and Production Workers, were arrested for embezzling more than $375,000 from the Jersey City union over a nearly a half-decade. As the local is no stranger to scandal, it hardly needs this development.
Prosecutors state that Arena, a resident of Nesconset, N.Y., and Caivano, a resident of Bloomfield, N.J., routinely gave themselves unauthorized raises, bonuses and paid vacations. The executive board provided no oversight because they owed their appointments to Arena and Caivano. As recording secretary, Caivano allegedly altered the minutes of meetings to create the illusion of board approval. The 29-count indictment, unsealed in Newark federal court, stated of the first 19 counts:
From on or about July 2005 through in or about December 2009, in Hudson County, in the District of New Jersey and elsewhere, defendants Stephen P. Arena and David J. Caivano while officers and employees of Local 148, a labor organization engaged in an industry affecting commerce, knowingly and intentionally conspired and agreed with each other and others to commit an offense against the United States; namely, embezzling, stealing, and unlawfully and willfully abstracting and converting to their use and the use of others, money, funds, securities, property and other assets of Local 148.
As for the latter 10 counts, the pair from December 2007 to March 2010 paid themselves unauthorized bonuses and received reimbursements for conference trips to Florida. They were in the driver’s seat until federal investigators discovered a pattern of irregular expenditures.
This isn’t the first instance of corruption at Novelty and Production Workers Local 148, which represents bus drivers, hotel employees and other workers in the New York metro area. Back in July 2005, Joseph Nardone Sr. and his son, Joseph Nardone Jr., the respective retired and active president of the union, were sentenced after being convicted of embezzling more than $350,000 from a union benefit fund to inflate the costs of construction on lots near the building occupied by the union. The developer, Stanley Rothman, pleaded guilty. Apparently, the union still thinks highly enough of its earlier leadership to continue listing 1 Nardone Place, Jersey City as its headquarters. This is an organization with an odd sense of humor – or a shameless memory.