Trial of NYC Union Boss Begins

In opening statements on Jan. 14, fed. prosecutors accused Charles Novak and other frmr. officials of Local 1 of the Intl. Union of Elevator Constructors of lining their pockets with the wages of no-show wrkrs.  Novak’s trial on racketeering charges began on the 14th.  “Workers got paid for being in bars, for doing whatever,” said Asst. U.S. Attny. Keir Dougall.  From each no-show paycheck, Dougall said, a percentage went to Novak and more than 2 dozen other Local 1 bosses and members, while contractors received the rest as kickbacks.


Novak and 25 other bosses, members and associates were indicted on Feb. 7, 2002 on charges that they stole more than $6 million in fraudulent wages and benefits at more than 20 construction sites in the NYC area from 1989-2001.  The charges center on the collective bargaining agreements (CBAs) entered into by most major N.Y.C. construction contractors with Local 1, which require the contractors to hire Local 1 members to operate the temporary elevator cars.  They also allegedly abused the rights of honest union members who sought employment through the union’s referral list.  Finally, Novak and the other union officials are accused of extorting payments from contractors in exchange for “labor peace.”  Many Local 1 members who participated in the no-show jobs scheme claimed to have been working on multiple construction jobs at the exact same time. In addition, three union members involved in the scheme had other, full time jobs. [New York Post, 1/15/04]


Trial of Ex-Fla. Union Boss Postponed Again

The racketeering trial of  Walter J. Browne, frmr. boss of the  was continued Monday for the seventh time since his indictment in November 2001.  U.S. District Judge Jose A. Martinez set the new trial date for Feb. 23. A pre-trial conference is set for Feb. 19 in Miami.


Browne and his sister, Patricia A. Devaney, are accused of abusing their union positions to line their own pockets.  Prosecutors say Browne solicited more than $300,000 in consulting contracts from companies that could or did employ his union workers. Devaney is accused of embezzling about $100,000, writing payroll checks to her husband and daughter, then cashing them herself.  They also are accused of dipping into union funds for airline tickets, meals and cellular phones, using the union’s Plantation headquarters for Friday night poker games and conspiring to destroy records, covering up their graft. [Miami Herald, 1/12/04]