Florida Boss Implicated in Bribery Case

A criminal complaint claims a shipping company vice-president’s contributions to Tampa union boss Perry  C. Harvey, Jr.’s 1996 campaign were actually bribes. Federal prosecutors said June 22 that it was a classic corruption case – an under-the-table deal that sold out  hundreds of Port of Tampa dockworkers.

Reportedly, Joseph F. Casella of Harborside Refrigerated Servs., Inc., bribed Harvey, an ex-Tampa city councilman  who heads Local 1402 of the Int’l Longshoremen’s Ass’n and is also an international vice-president on ILA’s executive council. Harvey, once one of Tampa’s best-known political figures, was not charged in the case. He was the first black elected to city council in modern times, but left politics after losing a bid for a seat on the Hillsborough County Commission in 1996. The bribes were allegedly disguised as $2,000 worth of contributions to Harvey’s county commission campaign.

In return, Harvey allegedly double-crossed union members by agreeing in contract negotiations with Casella to cut such things as pension and vacation benefits paid to the average  longshoreman by roughly $2 per hour. Casella was charged with bribery and corruption of a union official.  Asst. U.S. Atty Jeffrey DelFuoco said Casella had been arrested in the case before, in Feb. 1999, and this was “rearrest” because Casella had allegedly broken a promise to help in an ongoing investigation of union bribery. When asked about further indictments, U.S. Atty.’s Office spokesman Steve Cole said the case was “an ongoing investigation” and that people should “[s]tay tuned.”

Harvey, a former three-term city councilman, figured in a federal investigation of ILA  corruption once before, in 1991. He was forced from office after being indicted for allegedly conspiring with two other ILA  employees to embezzle $225,000 from the union. Four months later, Harvey was acquitted in the case and reinstated to his city council seat. [Tampa Trib. 6/23/00]


“We fought against Ali Baba and the 40 thieves. Now Ali Baba is gone, but the 40 thieves are still here.”

– Carlos Guzman, Serv. Employees Int’l Union Local 32B-32J in N.Y.C. dissent who successfully employed federal labor law to oust corrupt ex-boss Gus Bevona in 1999, accusing SEIU president Andrew L. Stern and others of attempting to manipulate the local’s upcoming elections and hand pick the local’s new leaders as once Bevona did.  Benova and Stern have both succeed AFL-CIO boss John J. Sweeney in their respective union posts. [Daily News (N.Y.) 6/20/00]

Postscript: All charges against Joseph Casella were dropped in 2001.