New York Probe Gobbles It’s First Union Turkey

Am. Fed. of State, County & Municipal Employees Local 1251 boss Joseph DeCanio pled guilty Nov. 20 to embezzling $50,000 over 4 years as part of a kickback scheme that provided thousands of free Thanksgiving turkeys to members. He split the funds with another Local 1251 boss, Bessie Jamison. The action was part of expanding probe by the Manhattan Dist. Attorney, Robert M. Morgenthau, into allegations of kickbacks, embezzlement, vote fraud and falsification of records in the 56 locals of the corrupt AFSCME Dist. Council 37 in N.Y. City.

Prosecutors said DeCanio inflated the price about $.20 per lbs., often raising the price to $1.10 per lbs. from the wholesale price of $.90. Thus he might embezzle $4,000 in providing 1,000 20-pound turkeys. But beyond Local 1251, union sources claim DeCanio had provided as many as 10,000 of turkeys each year to at least five other locals charging the locals $40 for turkeys that retail for half that, and he walked off with far more than $.20 per lbs.

DeCanio also pleaded guilty to criminal solicitation, admitting that earlier this month he gave blank ballots to the candidate he favored in his local’s upcoming election so that the candidate could cast fraudulent votes to insure his victory. Allegedly, DeCanio also told prosecutors that widespread vote fraud was committed in 1996 to insure the ratification of DC 37’s current 5-year contract. Morgenthau declined to say whether DeCanio was cooperating with prosecutors. But Morgenthau said he was continuing the investigation into the distribution of free turkeys.

DeCanio was released for the Holiday with sentencing on May 5. He faces between 2-12 years in prison. He will pay $50,000 in restitution and resign the presidency of Local 1251 he had since 1991. Further, he will step down from DC 37’s executive board, which paid him $24,000 a year on top of his $50,000 salary. [N.Y. Times 11/21/98]

Massachusetts Union Embezzler gets Year and a Day
Abraham Aly, AFSCME member ex-architect of Newton, Ma., was sentenced Nov. 18 to serve 1 year and 1 day in prison for having solicited and received bribe payments from a roofing contractor who did business with the City of Newton, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office. He will also pay a $4,000 fine and make $65,130 in restitution. He pled guilty to 9 counts of bribery, 5 counts of mail fraud, 3 counts of embezzlement and 1 count of conspiracy. Aly admitted that during 1993-95 he used his position to extract personal favors and cash from a vendor. The vendor overbilled the city about $50,000 and kicked-back about $25,000, in cash, to Aly. Payments were typically made at job sites and delivered in newspapers or at the bottoms of coffee cups.