Seven Bosses, Contractors Indicted in $10 Million Fraud

A Manhattan developer and several union bosses defrauded the N.Y. Metro. Transp. Auth. (i.e., taxpayers) and a landlord of more than $10 million by billing for phantom workers at inflated rates, according to an indictment unsealed Apr. 18 in U.S. Dist. Court in Brooklyn. Seven people, including developer Frederick Contini and Int’l Union of Operating Eng’rs Local 14 shop steward Morris “Mickey” or “Fat Boy” DiMinno, were charged in a 55-count fraud and money laundering indictment. Contini allegedly conspired with DiMinno and other union bosses to set up a shell company that billed MTA and the landlord, Zar Realty Mgmt., for non-existent elevator operators at MTA’s new headquarters a 2 Broadway in Manhattan.

The other five defendants are James Roemer, Local 14’s treasurer; Matthew J. Downey and David Coakley, members of Int’l Union Elevator Constructors Local 1; Constantine Vafias, a Brooklyn-based construction contractor; and John “Johnny Rhino” Vitiello. Downey and Coakley were among 27 Local 1 members and associates charged in Feb. 2002 with stealing $6 million in wages and benefits through no-show jobs at N.Y.C. construction sites. [USAO E.D.N.Y. 4/18/02; Bloomberg News 4/18/02]