New York Post Uncovers New Details from Union Corruption Probe

An elevator mechanic’s little black book is helping federal prosecutors blow the lid off a multimillion-dollar scam in which corrupt members of a powerful mob-tainted N.Y.C. union lined their pockets through no-show jobs. The well-worn, leather-bound book contains the home and cellular phone numbers of key union members who are thought to be masterminds of the scam. Some contact numbers belong to union members with blood ties to a Gambino crime family capo.Two entries in the book list the locations and numbers for pay telephones – a preferred method of communication for those concerned about police phone taps. The pages also feature handwritten lists of major construction sites around the city and the names of union workers assigned to them – including some workers already busted in the no-show job scam.

The address book was compiled by a undisclosed member of the Int’l Union of Elevator Constructors Local 1. Federal prosecutors, who have already charged some members of the union with fraud and obstruction, say the book has provided new ammunition that could help nail up to 75 union members who allegedly reaped millions from phantom jobs at building sites across the city.

The elevator mechanic knew he was under FBI scrutiny, but reportedly, he carelessly tossed work-related notes and other items of information into his trash. Among the discarded items viewed by was a key tag with the inscription, “Grandma’s basement file cabinet (master key) plus 2 lock box keys.”  The tag, along with information provided by sources, led FBI investigators to believe the mechanic may have secreted cash and union-related documents in his mother’s Long Island home. It is not known whether the mother’s home has been searched.

The rubbish also led the feds to a bank account in which the mechanic allegedly funneled $50,000 in cash over one year. Reportedly, prosecutors suspect the money was used to purchase luxury cars for his own use – but under relatives’ names.

Sources of the N.Y. Post agreed that the book’s confidential information had opened new leads and avenues of investigation. The Post’s review of the material also found:  1) contact numbers for relatives of reputed Gambino capo Louis “Big Lou” Vallario, a one-time associate of Salvatore “Sammy Bull” Gravano. The 60-year-old Vallario was indicted last April in a corruption case against officials of Service Employees Int’l Union  Local 32B-32J.

2)  A list of job sites around NYC between Apr. 2000 and Nov. 2001 and the names of union personnel assigned to them. Some of the names include union members who have already been charged. Job sites on the list include the building of a new 17,000-square-foot wing at the Museum of Modern Art, renovations at Carnegie Hall, Trump West, the Lincoln Tunnel and several major hotels.

3) A mysterious list titled “Members, taking” that contained the names of 41 rank-and-file members, some believed to be in on the no-show scheme, hidden in the book’s rear cover. One member on the list, Matthew Downey Jr., was indicted last Oct. 30 for obstruction of justice for telling union members to lie to the feds and even to their own lawyers. Downey allegedly funneled more than $2 million in no-show job money into a bank account between 1996 and 1998, the feds charged. Also on the “Members, taking” list was Frank Walker, one of four local members arrested in 1999 for taking no-show paychecks. Charges against the four were dropped at the time, pending a broader probe. [N.Y. Post 1/13/02]