For union officials who wanted to line their pockets with benefit payments intended for members, Joseph Olivieri was the man to see. Now they will have to go elsewhere. This Wednesday, a Manhattan Federal jury found Olivieri, ex-executive director of the Long Island-based Association of Wall, Ceiling & Carpentry Industries (WC&C), guilty of perjury in a case that underscored the extent of Genovese crime family control of New York City-area construction contractors and unions. As part of the Justice Department racketeering probe, former Carpenters & Joiners District boss Michael Forde and eight other defendants already had pled guilty. Olivieri, currently out on $500,000 bond, faces up to five years in prison plus prosecution for four other charges, including conspiracy and fraud.
Union Corruption Update provided extensive coverage of this case two months ago. Joseph Olivieri, now 56, long had been suspected by federal investigators as the main link between construction unions and the Genovese mob, most of all, convicted and now-deceased capo Louis Moscatiello. For some 15 years, as head of the Jericho, L.I.-based WC&C, Olivieri allegedly had been point man in a racket enabling union officials and mobsters to siphon around $10 million from scheduled contributions to benefit plans sponsored by New York City-area unions. By little coincidence, Olivieri served as a trustee for several of these plans.
Louis Moscatiello died in prison last year while serving a 78-month sentence for bribery and racketeering. He had been central in forming or running construction locals affiliated with the Carpenters, Operating Engineers and Plasterers unions. Moscatiello assigned union jobs and decided which contractors could submit low bids on contracts by paying nonunion wages and benefits on supposedly union projects. He wasn’t the only Genovese wise guy with whom Olivieri worked. He also was close to Ralph Coppola – at least until 1998, when the latter was murdered on order of family street boss Liborio Bellomo. Coppola’s body was never found, but Genovese soldier Pasquale DeLuca pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit murder in that case in 2007. With associates like that, it’s understandable why Joe Olivieri was on the Justice Department’s radar screen.
Olivieri was on trial for perjury he committed in a sworn deposition three years ago in a civil RICO case. During his statement, he claimed to have no relationship with either Moscatiello or crooked contractor James Murray. A parade of witnesses for the prosecution in the recently-concluded trial, however, revealed Olivieri was the conduit between Moscatiello and union leaders on the take. Joseph Rizzuto, former head of International Union of Operating Engineers Local 14, told the jury that Olivieri warned he was “going to be in a world of hurt” if he didn’t give a favored mobster a top union job. Michael Forde’s right-hand man, former Carpenters Local 608 boss John Greaney, already having pleaded guilty, took the witness stand to describe his ex-boss’s relationship with the underworld. And James Murray, owner of On Par Contracting, who for the last couple years had been on the lam in his native Ireland, told the jury he gave Olivieri’s construction company a nonunion building project in the Bronx, enabling Olivieri to pocket more than $1 million in scheduled benefit contributions. The feds also introduced as evidence playback of a 2004 tape of an unnamed Genovese made man and two associates discussing Olivieri’s relationship to Moscatiello.
In the end, the evidence against Joseph Olivieri’s see-no-evil, hear-no-evil claim was too strong. After a one-week trial, the jury convicted him after only four hours of deliberation. FBI Assistant Director-in-Charge Janice K. Fedarcyk explained the necessity of the case. “Olivieri attempted, but failed, to mask his association with the Genovese Organized Crime Family and a dishonorable union contractor,” she said. “Yesterday’s guilty verdict represents a dual victory: weeding out corruption in the New York City Carpenters Union and removing a crooked trustee of the benefit funds.” The nine other persons who had entered guilty pleas were: Michael Forde; John Greaney; Carpenters union shop stewards Michael Brennan, Brian Carson, Joseph Ruocco, John Stamberger and Michael Vivenzio; former Carpenters Local 608 business agent Brian Hayes; and contractor Finbar O’Neill. Union members shouldn’t be unhappy about the outcome given that they are more likely to realize their promised benefits.