Connecticut Boss Settles Suit over Dues Hikes

Conn. Dist. Council of LIUNA settled a lawsuit Nov. 4 charging it with illegally collecting and increasing the dues of members. The suit, by Local 665 in Bridgeport, its business manager Ronald B. Nobili and 6 members, alleged that the council unilaterally raised dues without seeking member approval in violation of federal law. It also alleged that the funds were used to pay excessive salaries and personal expenses of council bosses and were distributed to serve bosses’ political interests, rather than the interests of the membership. The settlement requires the council to discontinue the practice and requires future increases be put to a secret ballot vote of the members. Council bosses agreed in the settlement not to retaliate against the plaintiffs and pay $100,000 in attorneys’ fees. The practices began in 1977 under ex-boss Dominick Lopreato, who is serving a 4-year federal prison sentence for kickbacks, and continued under the current council boss, Charles LeConche, who also heads Local 230 in Hartford. [BNA 11/6/98]

Corrupt Buffalo Local Forced to Sell Hall
LIUNA Local 210 in Buffalo, under LIUNA trusteeship since in 1996 to end mob domination, was forced Oct. 29 to sell its long-time union hall. Owned by the union’s pension fund, the hall is too big for the shrinking union and too expensive to repair, said LIUNA-appointed trustee Steve Hammond. The Buffalo Laborers Pension Fund, which reportedly controls over $80 million in assets, is asking $289,000 for the hall, built in 1964 for $225,000. Union members opposed to the trusteeship, including ones with ties to alleged crime figures, call the sale a way to keep them from taking back the local. LIUNA, not the U.S. Justice Dep’t., took over Local 210 after charging that 28 bosses associated with organized crime. A LIUNA hearing officer, not a U.S. Dist. Judge, upheld the charges in Mar. against 17 of the 28. Five had charges dismissed in return for mere promises to stop union activities. [Buffalo News 10/30/98]

New Jersey Boss Gets 17.5 Years
Vincent “Juicy” DiModica, who allegedly ran the Gambino crime family’s interests in LIUNA Local 342 in Newark, was sentenced Nov. 6 to 17.5 years in federal prison for racketeering, fraud and extortion connected to a 4-year scheme on the Newark Airport’s monorail. His term will run concurrently with an 11-year federal term he was sentenced to in Oct. on unrelated illegal gambling and racketeering charge. DiModica was sentenced along with co-defendants John Albert and Rosario Gangi. The three were convicted of using intimidation and threats to extort nearly $200,000 from the contractors. They reportedly promised to help secure contracts for work on the monorail and to ensure union peace on the job site. DiModica’s stiff sentence was due to his criminal career which began in 1944 at age 12. This successful investigation was apparently conducted by the U.S. Justice Dep’t without the help or interference of LIUNA’s suspect “internal reform effort” led by in-house prosecutor Robert D. Luskin [Home News Tribune 11/7/98 & Record 2/28/98]