Johnnie Miranti wanted an opportunity to get back into action managing his union. A court said “no such luck.” On March 23, Miranti, former secretary-treasurer of Allied Novelty and Production Workers Local 223, a toymakers union, was sentenced in U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York to eight months of imprisonment, to be followed by three years of supervised release, for conspiracy to solicit and receive $138,500 worth of benefit kickbacks. He had pleaded guilty last August after being indicted in July 2015 along with his father, Rocco Miranti, and Louis Smith, former president of International Brotherhood of Teamsters Local 810. Smith had been sentenced in January after pleading guilty last August to skimming more than $150,000 from the Local 810 health plan. Each union is based in New York City.
The Local 223 health plan, for its part, was not in the best of shape. By the end of 2009, in fact, it had fallen to nearly $480,000 in the red. A business owner under union contract suspected something was up. This individual, known as “Business-1,” tipped off the FBI to conduct a probe. Beginning in October 2014, federal agents sent this person to secretly record conservations between the Mirantis and Smith on how to keep health plan contracts in force. At a number of these meetings, Business-1 offered payoffs, which the defendants accepted. This paved the way for the grand jury indictments of July 2015 and then the convictions of Smith and Johnnie Miranti last summer. Prior to sentencing, Miranti and his lawyer filed a petition requesting a reduction in the mandatory 13-year federal ban on persons convicted of certain crimes from holding union employment. The court, however, denied the request. The actions follow an investigation by the FBI, the U.S. Labor Department and the NYPD.