Boss Serpico and his Mistress Sentenced for Fraud

On Mar. 15,  U.S. Dist. Judge Blanche M. Manning (N.D. Ill., Clinton) sentenced John Serpico, ex-president of the Cent. States Joint Bd. and ex-vice president of the Laborers’ Int’l Union of N. Am. to six concurrent 30 months prison terms followed by three years of supervised release. CSJB is a labor organization which handles pension and other employee benefit funds for eight locals including locals of LIUNA and the Int’l Union of Allied Novelty & Production Workers. A jury convicted the powerful Chicago boss July 16 on six counts of mail fraud. Manning also fined him $100,000, ordered him to make restitution of $30,000, and ordered him to pay the cost of imprisonment. Serpico was CSJB president from 1975-94 and, at the time of the conviction, was a $50,000-a-year consultant. He was purged from LIUNA in 1995.

Serpico, 71, and his longtime mistress, Maria Busillo, 56, engaged in a 12-year scheme trading their control over union funds to obtain some $5 million in loans for personal business ventures.    Asst. U.S. Atty. David Glockner said Serpico and Busillo frequently flew together in a union jet to “frolic” at Busillo’s beachfront condo in Marco Island, Fla., “financed in part with a loan obtained by dumping workers’ money into a corrupt bank.”

Manning sentenced Busillo, also an ex-CSJB president and ex-ANPW president, to 15 months imprisonment followed by three years supervised release on each of two mail fraud counts and one count of making a false statement on a loan application of which she had been convicted, with the sentences to run concurrently. Manning also fined her $100,000 and ordered to pay the cost of imprisonment.

Further, Serpico and Gilbert Cataldo, an ex-Chicago housing comm’r and ex-lll. Int’l Port Dist executive director, were convicted of sharing in a kickback scheme of more than $330,000 after CSJB secured a $6.5 million loan for a failing hotel project in Champaign, Ill. Serpico was IIPD’s  longtime chairman until 1999 when he was indicted. Manning sentenced Cataldo to 21 months imprisonment followed by three years supervised release on each of three mail fraud counts of which he had been convicted, with the sentences to run concurrently. Manning also fined Cataldo $5,000 and ordered to perform 250 hours of community service.

“All three of these defendants have held themselves out for years and even throughout this trial as champions of labor and workers and pillars of the community,” said Glockner. “The evidence in this case shows that they’re simply crooks.”

“Insufficient,” is the way LIUNA dissident and Laborers for Justice leader Jim McGough described Serpico’s sentence. Expressing outrage at the sentence’s brevity, McGough told the Union Corruption Update, “Serpico raped and pillaged Laborers Local 8 and facilitated Organized Crime’s control of the Laborers Union and Central States Joint Board.”

Manning order the aging Serpico to surrender to prison June 28, but his attorney, Matthias Lydon, said he will seek his continued release pending appeal because of upcoming spinal surgery and an expected six-month recuperation period. After sentencing, Serpico, his hand raised to shield his face, ran into traffic outside the Dirksen Federal Building in an attempt to shake free from photographers. [DOL 3/15/02; Chi. Trib. 3/16/02]