Five Convicted in $750,000 New Jersey Scandal

A federal jury in Trenton, N.J., convicted four union officials and an employer’s hiring agent Dec. 17 in an massive embezzlement scandal that victimized Local 1588 of the Int’l Longshoreman Ass’n in Bayonne, N.J. Joseph Lore, ex-hiring agent at Int’l Terminal Operating Co., was found guilty of conspiring to receive in excess of $750,000 in union funds as a result of a multi-faceted scheme to skim union monies between 1991-99.

Also convicted of conspiracy were Denise Bohn, Local 1588’s office manager, Joseph Pelliccia, the local’s vice president, William Hurley, a Local 1588 business agent, and Thomas Rackley, the local’s environmental representative. Local 1588’s president, John J. Angelone, and its ex-president, Eugene G’Sell, both previously pled guilty and testified for the government in a bid for leniency. Initial indictments in the case were brought in June 1999.

The main source of the embezzled funds was a salary diversion scheme where one-half of the salaries of all officers and select union employees were diverted weekly, in cash, to Lore over the nine-year period. Lore received as much as $2,000 per week. Allegedly, the conspiracy also involved Lore and Bohn receiving kickbacks from Local 1588’s service providers, who were permitted by Lore and Bohn to improperly inflate costs. Lore was also convicted of three counts of embezzlement for receiving the diverted salaries of Pelliccia, Hurley, and Rackley. Bohn was also convicted of three counts of embezzlement for receiving kickbacks from a service provider during 1994. Bohn was also accused of misusing the union’s credit cards.

The jury also found Lore guilty of filing a false disability claim with his employer for the purpose of obtaining payment under the Longshoremen & Harbor Workers Compensation Act. The jury found that Lore falsely stated he was injured at his place of employment and sustained head injuries so severe as to render him permanently disabled, entitling him to a weekly benefit for life.

Lore had eluded conviction in four previous federal trials. In 1990, the Dep’t of Justice filed a civil racketeering suit against the local. Union officials agreed in 1992 to ban Lore from any having business relationship with the local or its officers. He was convicted of loan sharking in 1997, but U.S. Dist. Judge Joseph H. Rodriguez (D.N.J., Reagan) overturned that conviction due ineffective defense counsel. Lore was then acquitted at another trial on those charges after the government’s main witness, who was in the federal witness protection program, died in an accident. Prosecutors charged him again in 1999 with loan sharking. The judge in that case dismissed it when the main government witness recanted her testimony on the witness stand.

This case first went to trial in Oct., but  U.S. Dist. Judge Mary L. Cooper (D.N.J., H.W. Bush) declared a mistrial when she found that Lore had made threatening hand gestures, witnessed by jurors, to G’Sell during his testimony. The new trial began Nov. 3, and the jury began deliberations on Dec. 13. Cooper set sentencing for the five defendants for Mar. 22. Lore’s attorney, Daniel Welsh, plans to appeal. [USAO D.N.J.; Bloomberg News 12/17/01]