There wasn’t much of a difference at the top between Local 734 of the Laborers International Union of North America and Local 911 of the International Union of Production, Clerical and Public Employees. And that was the way August Vergallito liked it. But when a federal grand jury handed down a series of indictments last year, the end was in sight for him, his family and associates. Union Corruption Update earlier this year had reported Vergallito, his wife Rhoda, and their daughter, Kim, all residents of Ocean County, New Jersey, pleaded guilty in Newark federal court on February 5 to various thefts adding up to more than $250,000. An associate of Mr. Vergallito, Isaac Barocas, also pled guilty. Add two names to the list: Charles Purcel and Bernard Dwyer. Purcel, a Wayne Township, N.J.-based accountant for LIUNA Local 734 and Production Employees Local 911, pleaded guilty on February 27 to knowingly creating false documents. And Dwyer, Kim Vergallito’s ex-husband, pleaded guilty on January 15 to conspiracy to embezzle more than $65,000 from the Local 734 Welfare and Educational Fund.
This was one motley crew. August Vergallito, a reputed Genovese crime family associate, had served as business manager of LIUNA Local 734 until 1996, when he pleaded guilty in Newark federal court to benefit plan fraud. Ineligible to serve as a union official for 13 years, in 1999 he assumed behind-the-scenes control of the Brick Township, N.J.-based Production & Clerical Employees Local 911, which represents bus drivers and water commission employees in New Jersey. He, family members and friends kept union members in the dark before being nailed in a Labor Department investigation. Vergallito pleaded guilty to setting up a no-show Local 911 job for his wife, who also pleaded guilty. Their daughter, a union official, also pleaded guilty to check forgery. Isaac Barocas, former Production & Clerical Workers Local 911 president and Laborers Local 734 scholarship fund director, pleaded guilty back in December to vehicular assault and concealing a felony. Strict new U.S. Department of Labor financial reporting rules upheld in federal appeals court three years ago may cause people of a similar cast of mind to find alternative work. (U.S. Department of Labor, Office of Inspector General, Semiannual Report to Congress, 10/1/07-3/31/08; other sources).