Now that several of its top officials have pled guilty in a massive, mob-orchestrated no-show jobs scheme, the next stop for the city’s powerful Operating Engineers union is expected to be a federal trusteeship, reports Tom Robbins of the Village Voice.
The Manhattan and Brooklyn U.S. Attorneys, who brought twin cases against officials of locals 14 and 15 of the engineers–and their mob allies–have made little secret of their intent to file civil racketeering charges against the union itself. Talks on a possible civil RICO case are ongoing, union officials acknowledge. “Our lawyers are working with the feds; that’s where it stands,” said Joe Brady, a spokesperson for the national union in Washington.
But John Ruggiero, a former Local 15 business agent, has told prosecutors that he was told that recently convicted Local 15 boss Tommy Maguire had paid $80,000 to the president of the IUOE for the privilege of becoming an international vice president. In addition, Maguire regularly gave money to the IUOE president in order to “influence his decisions regarding Local 15 matters.” A spokesperson for Frank Hanley, who has held the IUOE presidency since 1989, said the union was unaware of the allegations.
So far, 39 individuals, including Thomas Maguire, former head of Local 15, and Joseph Rizzuto Sr., who was the leader of Local 14, have pled guilty. Rizzuto later agreed to cooperate with authorities, describing routine payoffs between major construction firms and mob-tied officials.
“This is one of the last bastions of the wiseguys,” said one law enforcement source. “It is highly lucrative. There has been a lot of featherbedding, much of it because there has existed a general acceptance by contractors that this was a mobbed-up union and there wasn’t much you could do about it.” [Village Voice, 12/21/04]