New Defendant Added to Buffalo Racketeering Indictment

On June 25, U.S. Attny. Michael A. Battle announced the return of a 14-count Second Superseding Indictment charging 15 members of Local 91 of the Laborers’ Intl. Union of N. Amer. with extorting jobs and compensation from both local and out-of-town businesses and union and non-union employees.  The Second Superseding Indictment specifically accuses the defendants, including several high-ranking officers of the Niagara Falls-based Local 91, with:  racketeering conspiracy in violation of 18 U.S.C., Sec. 1962(d), 11 counts of extortion or attempted extortion (18, U.S.C., Sec. 1951), 1 count of interstate transportation in aid of racketeering (18 U.S.C., Sec. 1952), and 1 count of destruction of a motor vehicle engaged in commerce (18 U.S.C. Sec. 33).  This Indictment was returned in response to the recent Supreme Court holding of Scheidler v. National Organization of Women.

All of the charged offenses are punishable by a maximum term of imprisonment of twenty years, a fine of $250,000, or both.  Additionally, the defendants will be ordered to forfeit any interest maintained or acquired in Local 91, including their management positions within the union, should they be convicted of the racketeering charge.

According to U.S. Attny. Battle, the Indictment alleges that from at least October 1995 to May 15, 2002, high ranking officers of Local 91, including current Business Manager Michael “Butch” Quarcini, Assistant Business Manager Albert Celeste, President Mark Congi, and now retired, past-President Dominick Dellaccio, directed Local 91 members whose principal objective was to force employers to hire workers selected by the defendants.  The Indictment alleges that the defendants tried to enforce and enforced their demands by threatening to commit and by committing acts of bodily harm, destruction of property, and workplace sabotage.

The Indictment also alleges that the violence committed by the defendants was not confined to construction sites, and included violence perpetrated against innocent bystanders and persons suspected of cooperating with law enforcement.

The Indictment adds as a defendant Joel Cicero, the administrator of the Local 91 Training Fund and former commissioner of the Niagara Falls Bridge Commission.  Mr. Cicero, who was replaced earlier this year on the Commission, is charged with one count of extortion by attempting, through his position as Commissioner, to obtain jobs from contractors involved in the construction of a Pizza Hut in 2001/2002 at the Lewiston-Queenston Bridge.  He is also charged with causing an individual to travel in interstate commerce as part of the alleged extortion.  The new Indictment also alleges as acts of racketeering the attempted extortion by defendants Mark Congi, Salvatore Bertino and Andrew Shomers of Vulcan Shaw Floors and the Louis P. Ciminelli Construction Company during the 1996 construction of a Target store in Niagara Falls, New York.

U.S. Attorney Battle reported that the Indictment was the product of a 4-year investigation.  Mr. Battle praised the tireless efforts of the investigating agencies and agents who actively participated in this long-term investigation:  the Federal Bureau of Investigation under the leadership of Special Agent in Charge Peter J. Ahearn, the United States Department of Labor, Office of Inspector General under the leadership of Special Agent in Charge John McGlynn, the New York State Police under the leadership of Captain Thomas M. Fresenius, Detail Commander, Special Investigation Unit, the Niagara County Sheriff’s Department under the leadership of Sheriff Thomas Beilein, and the Niagara Falls Police Department under the leadership of Superintendent Christopher Carlin.

The prosecution is being handled by Assistant U.S. Attorneys William J. Hochul, Jr., Charles B. Wydysh and Brett A. Harvey. [U.S.A.O., W.D. NY, 6/25/03: Buffalo News, 6/27/03]