Former NYC Transit Local President Sentenced for Racketeering

At least Salvatore “Hot Dogs” Battaglia didn’t get the maximum punishment.  But that’s not going to revive his career as a labor leader.  Battaglia, a reputed Genovese crime family associate, during 2002-06 headed Local 1181 of the Amalgamated Transit Union, a Queens, New York-based labor organization representing about 15,000 bus drivers and escorts for New York City school pupils.  His tenure wasn’t long for this world following RICO charges in June 2005 against him and more than a dozen other persons.  He pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York on January 18 of this year to three separate acts of racketeering by extortion and unlawful receipt of payments from various bus companies.  He’d been facing federal prison time of anywhere from 57 to 71 months, as well as forfeiture of up to $1 million in assets.  On June 26, he learned his fate:  He’ll do 57 months in prison and pay $180,000 in restitution, $25,000 in forfeiture and a $50,000 fine.  Given that prosecutors had accused Battaglia of improperly obtaining $2.7 million in cash and benefits, he could have fared worse.

ATU Local 1181, as this publication has described several times, for years had been one of the most mobbed-up unions in the country.  And Battaglia, now in his early 60s, was a big reason why.  He’d received under-the-table cash payments from bus companies contracting with the New York City Department of Education in exchange for a promise not to organize workers at the companies.  He’d also demanded and received payments from the owner-operators of a medical center in return for a promise to increase per-capita reimbursements for local member services.  The guilty pleas of Battaglia, late Local 1181 Secretary-Treasurer Julius “Spike” Bernstein, benefits manager Ann Chiarovano and former Genovese acting boss Matty “the Horse” Ianniello were the result of a lengthy joint investigation by the FBI and the U.S. Labor Department’s Office of Labor-Management Standards and Office of Inspector General.  Amalgamated Transit Union President Warren George placed the local under temporary trusteeship in late 2006.  It may be a long wait until normalcy.  (OLMS, 7/7/08; U.S. Department of Labor, Semiannual Report to Congress, October 1, 2007-March 31, 2008; other sources).