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business & labor
U.S. Charges 42 In Crackdown On Mob Influence In N.Y. Unions Rackets
By Richard Korman

Federal and state law enforcement agencies have charged 42 members of two New York City area operating engineers' unions, and others, in connection with racketeering by organized crime families. The charges include no-show jobs and featherbedding on some prominent construction projects, including expansion of a Brooklyn, N.Y., postal service facility that will house local offices of the U.S. Dept. of Justice.

CITED Post Office no-show job alleged.
(Photo by Nadine M. Post for ENR)

The indictments, unsealed Feb. 26, claim that members of the Colombo and Genovese crime families used extortion and intimidation to exert control over International Union of Operating Engineers' Local 14, based in Flushing, and Local 15, based in Manhattan. According to the charges, Louis Moscatiello, an alleged Genovese family soldier, supervises the family's criminal activities in the building trades. Carl Carrara Sr., a Genovese associate, is mainly responsible for the family's control over Locals 14 and 15, the indictment claims.

Prosecutors claim that the defendants reaped $2 million in profits from their schemes, and that those affected reach far beyond contractors and developers who paid union wages. "The influence exerted by the Colombo and Genovese organized crime families over union Locals 14 and 15 victimized not only legitimate union members by corrupting their union officials, looting benefit plans and denying them the right to democratically govern their union," says Kevin P. Donovan, assistant director-in-charge of the FBI in New York City. "It also victimized real estate owners and the public, which always ultimately bear the burden of the ‘mob tax.'" Investigations were also led by the U.S. attorney's office and New York State Attorney General.

Beginning in 1999, prosecutors investigated corruption at construction projects that included the General Post Office building in Brooklyn; Kingsboro Community College and the Marine Park Bridge, also in that borough; and minor league baseball stadiums in Brooklyn and Staten Island.

The probe also involved an addition to the Museum of Modern Art in Manhattan. With court permission, investigators last year bugged a construction trailer at the museum project where many defendants gathered. Many of the charges are based on these intercepted conversations, prosecutors say.

Officials of Locals 14 and 15 could not be reached for comment about the charges. A spokesman for the international union says that its officials would not comment until attorneys had finished reviewing the indictment.

In one alleged scheme described in the indictment, four union members defrauded contractors, owners and developers by submitting false information to contractors on hours worked. They are former Local 14 Business Agent Joseph Coriasco; Local 14 member Nicholas Lupari, who is Coriasco's son-in-law; Local 15 delegate Thomas G. McNamara; and Local 15 member Anthony Polito.

According to the indictment, another defendant, Lawrence Persico, claimed to be working at the Brooklyn post office site during the same time that he was on the payroll and receiving wages from Roadway Contracting Inc. at another site. Among other contractors who allegedly paid wages fraudulently recorded under the scheme were PT&L Construction Co. Inc. and J.A. Jones GMO LLC. The firms are not implicated in any crime.

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