Ex-NY State Boss Gets Light Sentence for Cooperation

A frmr. govt. union director who confessed to embezzling thousands of dollars with his brothers-in-law received a lenient sentence after the U.S. Attny. lauded his “substantial assistance” in the fed. investigation. Lawrence Germano, frmr. exec.-dir. of Dist. Council 82 of the Amer. Fed. of State, County & Municipal Employees (AFSCME), was sentenced on Sept. 25 to five years’ probation and six months of home detention, 120 hrs of community service, and $50,000 in restitution.

Germano pled guilty on Dec. 13, 2001 to mail fraud in a computer-consulting scam with a company run by his brothers-in-law, Anthony and Ronald Pizzolo. In the fall of 1993, Germano retained a company controlled by the Pizzolos, M & P Trade Group, to work on the union’s computers. Germnao presented the Pizzolos’ invoices as an “emergency,” thus allowing him to bypass the normal check-writing process and pay more than $194,000 to M & P from Oct. 1993 through Feb. 1994. Germano never disclosed his relationship with the Pizzolos, nor the relationship between the Pizzolos and the consultant working with Council 82 on M & P’s behalf, Armando Poleo.

Poleo only received $750 a week from the Pizzolos, and in Feb. 1994, complained to Germano. From March through Dec., Germano directly paid Poleo $228,958 from the union. According to the plea agreement, Germano defrauded Council 82 of $50,000 through those payments.

In 1995, fed. investigators launched a probe of the Albany-based Council’s finances that was soon followed up by AFSCME officials. It was found that a number of Council officers, incl. Joseph Puma and Thomas Kennedy, had used the union’s credit card to pay for out-of-state trips and visits to strip bars. From 1992-94, the reserves of Council 82 plunged $3.6 million. Germano, Puma and Kennedy were purged from the union, but only Germano was ever charged by fed. prosecutors. He was sentenced by U.S. Dist. Judge Lawrence Kahn, [N.D.N.Y., Clinton.] [Albany Times-Union 9/26/02]