The gang that ran Laborers Local 91 during the late-90s and the early part of this decade has been put out of operation. Following a massive FBI raid in May 2002 and subsequent indictments, a dozen former local officials and members thus far have been convicted of felonies, with only one being acquitted. But the day of reckoning for the biggest catch of all, Mark Congi, the union’s ex-president, will have to wait. On Tuesday, December 13, U.S. District Judge Richard Arcara, at the behest of the U.S. Attorney’s Office, disqualified defense lawyer Paul J. Cambria from representing Congi and three other defendants. Judge Arcara held that Cambria had conflicts of interest due to his past associations with potential government witnesses.
Jury selection in the case had been scheduled to begin this January 1. In the meantime, Congi, 45, remains in jail, having maintained his innocence all along. Whichever attorney he winds up using (he’s now been through three) will have some serious work ahead. The weight of evidence in convictions secured thus far suggests Congi used his position in the local to order a series of violent assaults against non-union employees, plus various acts of vandalism at project sites. (Buffalo News, 12/14).