New York School Bus Drivers Boss Sentenced for Violating Ban

School busPerhaps this latest sentence should convince Warren Annunziata of his lack of a future in organized labor. On June 19, Annunziata, founder and former longtime president of United Craft and Industrial Workers Union Local 91, was sentenced in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of New York to two years of probation, and ordered to pay $126,858 in forfeiture and a $100,000 fine, for running a union-sponsored benefit fund despite having been banned from union activity due to an earlier conviction. He had pleaded guilty to extortion last November following a joint probe by the U.S. Labor Department’s Office of Labor-Management Standards, Employee Benefits Security Administration, and Office of Inspector General.

Union Corruption Update more than once has covered the doings of Mr. Annunziata, a resident of Roslyn Heights, Long Island, N.Y., who recently turned 80. Several years ago, an FBI investigation, in response to anonymous complaints, had concluded that starting around 1992, Annunziata used his position as head of the Williston Park, N.Y.-based Local 91 to threaten executives of unionized New York City-area public school bus companies into providing him with cash payments totaling more than $600,000. In addition, he also allegedly forged his identity to collect tens of thousands of dollars from another company. Annunziata was arrested and indicted for these offenses in February 2010 and pleaded guilty that July. He would receive a 33-month prison sentence in March 2011, plus an automatic 13-year ban on participation in all union activity.

Despite the ban, Annunziata wasn’t about to sit on the sidelines. According to the Labor Department, acting on a tip, he ran the union from his prison cell under the grand-sounding title of “executive director emeritus,” pocketing about $800,000 in “consulting” fees and logging the disbursements as wages. Once out of prison, he continued to engage in this activity. He was arrested last July and released on $100,000 bond. While initially denying the charge of violating the 13-year ban, he later changed his plea to guilty. The roughly 2,000 members of United Craft and Industrial Workers Local 91 are no doubt glad this drama is over.