Convicted Union Boss’s Payback Effort Backfires in N.J. Fed. Court

Ex-food wrkrs. union boss Joseph Rizzo tried to get payback against the exec. whose testimony helped to force his guilty plea to bribery.  But in response to Rizzo’s urging of a lengthy prison sentence for Martin Vitale, a frmr. food co-op CEO, U.S. Dist. Judge Stanley Chesler (N.J., G.W. Bush) gave him six mos. at a fed. prison camp on April 22.  Vitale could have rec. 3 1/2 yrs. in prison for embezzlement, partly to pay Rizzo, the frmr. pres. of Local 1262 of the United Food & Commercial Wrkrs., for labor peace during the holidays.


Vitale’s embezzlement was discovered after Twin County Grocers, Inc., was declared bankrupt in 1998.  Vitale cooperated in the fed. investigation almost from its beginning.  In his letter to the court, Rizzo called Vitale, “a cruel abuser of people and corporations.”  But “if one judges people by their enemies,” Judge Chesler told Vitale, it was to his credit that Rizzo “is your enemy…Mr. Rizzo did you more good than you will ever know by sending this letter.” [Newark Star-Ledger, 4/23/04]