New Jersey Operating Engineers Business Agent Sentenced for Bribery, Thefts

Kenneth Campbell had a comfortable arrangement: accepting bribes from building contractors to buy labor “peace” and using his union’s American Express card to charge a wide range of high-end merchandise for his personal use. The former business manager for International Union of Operating Engineers Local 825 knows more than ever the fun wasn’t worth it. On January 27, Campbell, standing before U.S. District Judge Stanley R. Chesler, received a 46-month prison sentence plus a restitution order of nearly $250,000 and a fine of $40,000 for engaging in a pattern of corruption at the 7,000-member northern New Jersey construction local. He had pleaded guilty in October to three counts of conspiracy to receive unlawful labor payments and five counts of embezzlement.

Prosecutors charged that Campbell, 57, a resident of Basking Ridge, N.J., ran the union as his personal fiefdom, pocketing bribes from contractors while stealing from the organization’s coffers. “Mr. Campbell created an atmosphere where it was acceptable, in fact encouraged, to shake down contractors,” said Assistant U.S. Attorney Anthony Moscato. The illegal activity centered on a pair of major Jersey City construction projects:  the Goldman, Sachs tower and a residential-golf course development. All told, the conspiracy squeezed some $256,000 in payoffs, of which Campbell must pay back $247,655. He’s not the only former Local 825 official to have been on the take. Business agent Craig Wask, President Peter Strannemar, lead project engineer Anthony Mann and more than a half-dozen other persons have pleaded guilty in the case, the result of a joint probe by the FBI, the IRS and the Labor Department. (Bergen County Record, 1/28/09).