Village Voice’s Tom Robbins Provides Color to NYC Local 15

For more than 25 years there hasn’t been a big construction job in this city where Tommy Maguire, leader of the Operating Engineers union, wasn’t present for the photo op.  Recently, he was there at ground zero, glowingly describing the dedication of his members as they disinterred the wreckage.


Then last month, shortly before his 69th birthday, Maguire was compelled to attend a different kind of event, this one in Brooklyn federal court, where he stood glumly alongside three other union officers as he admitted to taking bribes from contractors in a scheme that had helped to vastly inflate the cost of construction in this town. Going back to 1989, he acknowledged in court, he had accepted payoffs, sometimes in the form of Christmas gifts, from at least two contractors.


The conviction of Thomas P. Maguire was greeted as just another ho-hum labor corruption tale in a Read More ➡

NY Contractors Indicted for Union Bribery

Top executives of 5 NY construction firms were indicted earlier this month on charges of making illegal payoffs over more than a decade to officials of two union locals.  According to the indictments, since 1991, the execs had made hidden payments to officials of Local 14 and Local 15 of the Intl. Union of Operating Engineers.  


Dino Tomassetti, president of Laquila Construction, was described by prosecutors as the lead defendant. The others arrested were John Amicucci, president of DeFoe Corporation; Guerino Cavaliere, president of Acme Skillman Construction Company; Peter Ruttura, vice president of Ruttura & Sons; and Edward Simpson, chief engineer at NAB Construction Corporation.  All five were charged with conspiracy, mail fraud and illegal labor payments.


Prosecutors said that the contractors made payments to the union officials in exchange for their cooperation in violation of collective bargaining agreements. The officials allowed the companies to Read More ➡

Iowa Ex-Narc Charged with Embezzlement

A federal grand jury in mid-Decmeber accused a former state narcotics officer of embezzling more than $89,000 from the state peace officers’ union.  Rodney Alan Fox was indicted on charges that he embezzled $89,433 from the State Police Officer Council, using checks and credit cards for personal expenses. The council represents 600 state police officers, including troopers, park rangers and conservation officers.  Fox is scheduled to appear in federal court in Des Moines Dec. 28. He plans to plead innocent, said his lawyer, F. Montgomery Brown.


Fox is accused of using a union credit card for personal purchases, writing union checks to pay off his personal credit card bill, spending union money on two unauthorized cell phones, and writing union checks to himself.


Fox’s lawyer, F. Montgomery Brown, said Fox will fight the charges.  “He was a peace officer and is not an accountant,” Brown Read More ➡

Fla. Union Boss’s Sentencing Delayed

A judge said on Nov. 30 that he would rather wait and hear from the U.S. Supreme Court on the issue of federal sentencing guidelines before deciding how long he should send Broward County union kingpin Walter “Buster” Browne to prison.  Although Browne’s sentencing has been delayed several times, U.S. Dist. Judge Jose E. Martinez (S.D. FL, G.W. Bush) did take action on another front. He said he was ordering Browne and his sister to forfeit more than $590,000 in assets to the federal government.


A federal jury in Miami convicted Browne in June of labor racketeering and fraud. After a two-month trial, the jury found that Browne and his sister, Patricia Devaney, lined their pockets by running the 7,000-member Fedtn. of Public and Private Employees like an organized crime racket.  Devaney helped Browne pad his expense account and embezzled more than $116,000 from the union’s payroll.Read More ➡

NY Union Bosses Admit Links to Mob

Roslynn Mauskopf, U.S. Attny. for the East. Dist. of N.Y., announced on Nov. 8 that Thomas McGuire, former vice president of the Intl. Union of Operating Engineers and business manager of Local 15, pled guilty to receiving unlawful labor payments in violation of the Taft Hartley Act.  Daniel Murphy and Thomas McNamara, former business agents of Local 15, pled guilty to racketeering based on mail fraud and receiving unlawful labor payments in violation of the Taft Hartley Act.  And Local 15 member Anthony Quaranta pleaded guilty to mail fraud.


The guilty pleas arise out of a broad investigation into organized crime’s corrupt influence in the construction industry in the N.Y.C. metropolitan area, which, to date, has resulted in the convictions of 21 defendants, including the underboss of the Colombo organized crime family, John J. DeRoss, Colombo family soldier Vincent Ricciardo, six Colombo family associates, three union Read More ➡

DOJ Asked to Investigate Aggressive Union Protests Nationwide

Fourteen U.S. representatives, incl. Tom Feeney (R-FL), have asked the U.S. Dept. of Justice to investigate union protests they say were designed to intimidate Bush-Cheney supporters in 10 cities on Oct. 5.  The union militants showed up at Bush-Cheney campaign offices in Orlando, Miami, Tampa, Fla., as well as seven other U.S. cities.  Their official purpose was to deliver postcards from people opposed to new Bush regulations on the classification of overtime employees.


According to an Orlando police report, Rhyan Metzler, a field director for the Republican Party of Florida in Orlando, told authorities that about 60 protesters forced their way into the party’s headquarters at about 1 p.m.  One protester, Van Church, forced the door, causing Metzler’s arm to be caught, the police report said. Metzler said Wednesday that his left wrist was fractured in the scuffle.  The police report Read More ➡

DOL Restores $50,000 To New York Union’s Health and Pension Plans

The U.S. Department of Labor obtained a consent judgment requiring former trustees of the health

and pension plans of District 6, Intl. Union of Industrial Service, Transport & Health Employees in New York City to restore $50,000 for failing to prevent multiple violations of federal employee benefits law by another trustee. 


Under the consent judgment, former trustees Jerome Vuoso, Ludovic Marcovici and Francis Winn also must pay $10,000 in civil penalties, forfeit and restore any assets they have from the District 6 pension plan back to the plan, and are permanently barred from serving any employee benefit plan covered by the Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA).


“Plan officials who mismanage health and retirement plan assets jeopardize the benefits of workers,” said Francis Clisham, director of the New York regional office of the department’s Employee Benefits Security Administration (EBSA), which investigated the case. “Last year, the Administration Read More ➡

Union Politicking, Wasteful Spending Plague Mo. Fire Protection

In Chesterfield, Mo., the 3 members of the Monarch Fire Protection Dist. Bd. meet twice a month to discuss district business.  Some of the meetings, held in a boardroom attached to a firehouse, last little more than half an hour.  For that part-time work, the board members — a surgeon, a business owner and a college teacher — have been paid a total of $13,050 so far this year.  That doesn’t count the health insurance the dist. provides to each of them, bringing the board’s expected compensation this year to more than $70,000.


In St. Charles County, firetruck No. 8720 gleams in the bay of the fire station on Old Highway 94.  It is one of 4 new trucks, all with seats embroidered with a union logo, bought last year by the Cottleville Fire Protection District for half a million dollars each.  The district Read More ➡

Fla. Grand Jury Wags Finger at Politicking Fire Fighting Union

Members of the Orlando firefighters union should not have been paid by the city for their time spent working on Mayor Buddy Dyer’s campaign, a grand jury concluded.  But the jury, impaneled during an investigation into the March election that kept Dyer in office, issued no indictments.


“While the grand jury finds that the evidence is insufficient to charge criminal violations, it does find that the practice of using public funds to compensate firefighters while engaging in union activities to be a violation of the public trust and poor stewardship of public moneys,” the grand jury foreman said after Tuesday’s closed hearing.


The union is one of the most active labor groups in central Florida. Under their contract, there is money set aside to pay members for time spent on union business.  The city lets the union decide what constitutes union business, and as far as Read More ➡

Ala. Union Chief Testifies before Grand Jury about Contribution to Ex-Gov.

State UMW chief John Stewart testified before a grand jury on Aug. 9 about a 1999 contribution to the Ala. Dem. Party that went unreported.  The $50,000 contribution was made at around the same time that then-Gov. Don Sigelman was campaigning for a state lottery.  It was not reported by the Dem. Party in 1999, but showed up on the next report filed with the Ala. Secy. of State.  A former partner in the investment firm AFS Equities appeared before the grand jury a week earlier to discuss Democratic Party donations that his firm handled for about a week in 1999.  The money was sent to an out-of-state investment account.


The fed. grand jury has been investigating several events of Siegelman’s 1999-2003 term, incl.: donations to the 1999 lottery campaign; Siegelman’s appointments to the state panel that gives hospitals permission to expand; a tax break Read More ➡