New York Boss Admits $215,000 Theft

Vincent Marolla, an ex-dean of discipline at a Yonkers high school pled guilty Dec. 1 to grand larceny for stealing $215,000 during his 27 years as boss of the Yonkers Fed’n of Teachers. He admitted using YFT’s funds for dinners, trips, air tickets, wine and other personal expenses, Dist. Atty. Jeanine Pirro said. He faces 15 years when he is sentenced Feb. 14. [AP 12/1/99]

New York Clean-up’s Integrity Questioned
The Laborers’ Int’l Union of No. Am.’s oversight of LIUNA Local 210 in Buffalo has been “rocky and angry,” according to a recent report in the Buffalo News. In 1998, the supervisor of Local 210 got into a disagreement with a member during an advisory board meeting. One angry word led to another, and the two decided to take the dispute outside. They duked it out. In Sep. 1999, a Local 210 job steward was in a fistfight that left a worker in a coma for several days and nearly killed him. “To observers of Local 210 — allegedly the most corrupt employee union in the history of Western New York — such incidents are evidence that a…takeover of the local has not gone smoothly.”

U.S. Atty. for Western N.Y. Denise E. O’Donnell said, “I don’t think the job is complete yet.”

Many members are also displeased with LIUNA’s “internal reform effort.” Member Peter Capitano, Jr., and Buffalo attorney Joseph V. Sedita, who represented a man who was kicked out of the union, say the takeover was an unfair process. “Our members have less rights than they’ve ever had,” said Capitano, whose father was forced out of a leadership position by LIUNA. “We have no votes. Administrative costs that come out of our paychecks are higher than ever. It’s a crooked operation. People were accused of being in the mob without ever having a hearing in a real court of law.”

Sedita said LIUNA leaders have used a “very unfair… kangaroo court” administrative hearing process to remove Local 210 leaders and replace them with cronies from the international. According to Sedita and Capitano, LIUNA removed bosses because of alleged mob ties and then replaced them with others who had mob ties that were equally alarming.

“They took one guy, who admitted in their hearing that he had been an enforcer for the mob, and they made him a steward. What kind of reform is that?” Capitano said. That man, Jerome Piniewski, was the steward who allegedly beat a fellow worker into a coma. Buffalo police arrested Piniewski, and the Erie County Dist. Atty. and a grand jury are investigating the beating. The injured worker’s attorney said the injured worker is considering a suit after coming close to death from a head injury.

Sources said that O’Donnell may ask U.S. Dist. Judge Richard J. Arcara, to allow closer government scrutiny of the local. Arcara has been overseeing some litigation surrounding the LIUNA’s takeover of Local 210. [Buff. News 11/22/99]

QUOTABLE QUOTE
“From the small fry to the sharks, U.S. Attorney Mary Jo White is moving up the fund chain of Teamsters officials who illegally diverted union money to the reelection campaign of Ron Carey. …If White follows the scent uphill from [convicted felon William] Hamilton, she will be several steps ahead of Janet Reno’s Justice Department: It has blithely bargained very light penalties with some very heavy offenders of campaign-finance law. And the higher the evidence pointed, the more tortured became Justice’s rationale for backing off.”
 
– Editorial, Cleveland Plain Dealer, Nov. 29, 1999.