Robert Persico, a Scarsdale, N.Y. businessman, can add one more notch to his mob connections. Persico, 40, head of the Mount Vernon, N.Y.-based Persico Contracting and Trucking, was charged with bribing officials of Locals 14 and 15 of the International Union of Operating Engineers. Earlier, he had been indicted for conspiring with a reputed Gambino family capo, Gregory DePalma, also from Scarsdale, to extort another construction company and transport stolen luxury goods.
The indictment of Persico marks the second time in recent memory that a prominent Westchester County contractor has been indicted in connection with a federal investigation into IUOE corruption. Last December, John Amicucci, president of DeFoe Corp., along with officials at four other construction companies, was charged with labor racketeering with members of the Gambino crime family. Additionally, more than 40 contractors, union officials, and members of the Genovese and Colombo crime families have been indicted in Brooklyn and Manhattan since February 2003 in connection with the probe.
Persico and Amicucci each pled not guilty to the charges. Yet the overall federal investigation has produced its share of guilty pleas. Thomas McGuire, 69, former business manager and vice president of Local 15, pled guilty in November to accepting bribes from construction contractors. Thomas McNamara, 39, a former business agent with IUOE Local 15 pleaded guilty to similar charges. Each is awaiting sentencing in Brooklyn federal court. Also, Joseph Rizzuto, Sr., former head of IUOE Local 14, and his son, Joseph Rizzuto Jr., have pleased guilty in Manhattan federal court, and are awaiting sentencing.
Locals 14 and 15 represent a combined roughly 6,000 heavy-equipment operators, mechanics and surveyors working on construction projects throughout New York City’s five boroughs. The Persico case underscores the extent to which mobsters force contractors in the construction industry to buy “labor peace.” Columbia law professor Ronald Goldstock, head of New York State’s Organized Crime Task Force for nearly a decade and a half, argues that union-related bribery stifles fair competition. “A corrupt system reduces the number of honest companies willing to engage in it,” he said. “That produces a smaller number of companies, making it easier for them to ‘cartelize,’ to create monopolies.” [Westchester Journal News, 3/28/05]
On March 29, 2005, in the United States District Court for the Middle District of Pennsylvania, Terry Aldrich, former president of the Westfield Tanning Employees Association, was sentenced to two months in prison followed by three years probation for embezzlement. In addition, Aldrich will be subject to four months of electronic monitoring and he must pay restitution in the amount of $54,770 (payable in the minimum of $50.00 monthly installments). On September 15, 2004, Aldrich pled guilty to embezzling union funds in excess of $39,000 following an investigation by the OLMS Philadelphia District Office.