Ex-union officials plead guilty to accepting bribes, illegal payments


Former union officials pleaded guilty in to charges surrounding accepting  more than $100,000 in bribes and illegal cash payments,  officials said Tuesday.

James Cahill, former president of the New York State Building & Construction Trades Council, and 10 other former officials, pleaded guilty to accepting the money from a construction contractor, said Damian Williams, the U.S.  attorney for the Southern District of New York, and Raymond Tierney, the district attorney for Suffolk County.

Those pleading guilty were Christopher Kraft, Patrick Hill, Matthew Norton, William Brian Wangerman, Kevin McCarron, Jeremy “Max” Sheeran, Andrew McKeon, Robert Egan, Scott Roche and Arthur Gipson, officials said.

The announcement of the guilty pleas was made more than two years after charges were first brought forth about the scheme, which authorities said had taken place throughout the New York metropolitan area, including on Long Island. Those taking part in the scheme had been officials of Steamfitters Local 638, and Plumbers and PipeFitters Local 200.

“The defendants exploited their union positions and hard-working union members to feed their own greed,” Williams said in a statement.

“They accepted bribes to corruptly favor non-union employers and influence the construction trade in New York,” Williams added. “The convictions in this case reflect our continuing commitment to root out corruption and bring to justice those who abuse positions of power out of personal greed. I thank the Suffolk County District Attorney’s Office for their partnership in this case.”

Tierney said in a statement that the “convictions highlight a shocking level of corruption among powerful labor officials in New York State.

“Through their greed and self-dealing, these defendants betrayed the hard-working members of their respective unions, and undermined the protections meant to be afforded by organized labor,” he added. “While their members were performing difficult work at job sites throughout the region, these defendants sold  out their membership by accepting bribes and cash payments in restaurant bathrooms. My Office will continue to uncover and prosecute corruption of all kinds, including that committed by union officials. ”

The 11 defendants had “accepted cash from Employer-1 — usually stuffed in envelopes that Employer-1 handed off inside the restrooms of restaurants,” according to a press release about the guilty plea.  At these meetings, the employer “repeatedly requested favorable action from Local 638 and/or Local 200.”

Those actions would include several requests, authorities said.  The union officials were asked for the union to support the employer’s bids on various projects. They were also asked for union support in considering signing the employer to favorable labor agreements, including agreements that would pay union workers lower rates than their experience merited. And they were asked that the union would permit the employer to falsely claim to developers that Employer-1 employed union workers.

Cahill, Kraft and Hill each face maximum penalties of 20 years in prison for honest services fraud conspiracy.

Norton, Wangerman, Sheeran , McKeon, Egan and Gipson face up to five years in prison for Taft-Hartley Act violation.

McCarron and Roche each face up to 12 months in prison.


Image and article originally from libn.com. Read the original article here.