For years it was an unwritten law that to get something built in Niagara County, N.Y. a contractor had to hire workers from Laborers Local 91. Disobey that law, and there could be trouble – like extortion, vandalism, death threats and assaults. For years Anthony Cerrone helped carry out the local’s dirty work. But now, as a convicted man, he’s got himself a new employer. Cerrone, 39, is set to testify for the prosecution in the upcoming trial of nine former officials of Local 91 of the Laborers International Union of North America (LIUNA), including ex-president Mark Congi. He doesn’t have much choice, given that he’s facing a sentence of up to 20 years.
Cerrone, along with Steven Markle, 43, was convicted this January for his role in an attack on non-union tile setters at a supermarket construction site in September 1998. His arrest in 2002, along with those of more than a dozen other Local 91 members, was the result of a lengthy probe by the FBI, the Labor Department and other agencies. Since then, one additional defendant was charged, two others took plea-bargain deals, one was acquitted, and another died. The union’s reign of terror went well beyond a supermarket assault. According to court papers, Cerrone will testify about any number of acts of sabotage, intimidation and fraud, including a 1997 firebombing of a home of a non-union worker, which caused the victim to lose part of his hearing. U.S. Attorney Michael Battle believes the testimony will break up the Local 91 gang once and for all. “We think this witness goes a long way toward tightening up our proof,” he said. Jury selection is set to begin September 7. (Buffalo News, 5/22).