New Jersey Operating Engineers Ex-Business Agent, Three Others Plead Guilty

The bribery scandal at International Union of Operating Engineers Local 825 seems to be producing dominoes by the month. On or before March 26, four more persons associated with the Springfield, N.J.-based construction union pleaded guilty in federal court to accepting bribes from various contractors in return for permitting the contractors to avoid hiring and paying union labor. The lead person in this group is Craig Wask, a former local business agent. Wask, 60, a resident of Montvale, N.J., pleaded guilty to seven superseding counts before U.S. District Judge Stanley R. Chesler. He’d been charged last July with, among other things, hiring the daughter of a union member for a no-show job at the construction site of the Goldman, Sachs tower (“30 Hudson”) in Jersey City. Also pleading guilty were Francis Impeciati, Michael Giangrande and Manuel Pinto.

Under federal law, it is illegal for any official or employee of a union to receive money or things of value from an employer whose employees the union represents or attempts to organize. Wask’s actions met the bar. He admitted that the lead engineer, an unindicted co-conspirator referred to as “A.M.,” received cash bribes from contractors in exchange for maintaining labor peace and allowing the contractors to circumvent collective-bargaining requirements. The contract obligated contractors to hire union members.  Wask also admitted that after receiving bribes, he delivered portions of the payments to then-Local 825 Business Manager Kenneth Campbell and then-President Peter Strannemar. Campbell and Strannemar each were indicted recently for conspiring to receive unlawful payments. 

In all, Wask and his co-conspirators obtained in excess of $150,000 in cash during the project’s duration. Impeciati had engaged in conspiracy to make unlawful payments to G.H.; Giangrande, conspiracy to demand and receive an unlawful labor payment from a contractor; and Pinto, conspiracy to make an unlawful payment to a labor union representative. The four defendants are due for sentencing in June or July. The guilty pleas follow a joint investigation by the FBI, the IRS and the Labor Department. As IUOE Local 825 has documented mob ties, the feds’ work may be far from over. (U.S. Department of Justice, 3/26/08; other sources).