U.S. attorney Ilan Graff of the Southern District of New York and Suffolk County District Attorney Timothy D. Sini have jointly announced the indictment of 11 current and former union officials on charges of accepting bribes in exchange for which they allegedly used their authority to corruptly influence the construction industry at the expense of labor unions and their members.
One of those indicted is James Cahill, president of the New York State Building & Construction Trades Council. It represents more than 200,000 unionized construction workers throughout New York state. Cahill also is a member of the executive council for the New York State American Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrial Organizations (NYS AFL-CIO).
The council reports having 16 local building trades councils, 12 district councils and state associations, and 135 local unions representing construction trades.
The others indicted are or were variously affiliated with Local 638 of the Enterprise Association of Steamfitters, and Local Union 200 of the United Association of Journeyman & Apprentices of the Plumbing and Pipe Fitting Industry of the United States and Canada, both of which operate primarily in New York City and on Long Island.
Westchester was mentioned in the indictment, which alleged that Cahill accepted a $3,000 bribe from an employer during a meeting at a restaurant in Harrison. Although the indictment alleged that other geographic areas besides New York City and Nassau and Suffolk counties were involved in the activities scrutinized by law enforcement, the indictment did not provide additional details.
In addition to Cahill, the indictment named Christopher Kraft, Patrick Hill, Matthew Norton, William Brian Wangerman, Kevin McCarron, Jeremy (Max) Sheeran, Andrew McKeon, Robert Egan, Scott Roche and Arthur Gipson.
The defendants were arrested on Oct. 1 and 2.
Graff said, “As alleged, the defendants exploited their labor organization positions to line their own pockets. They did so at the expense of the unions and their members by accepting bribes to favor non-union employers and corruptly influence the construction trade.”
Sini said, “This was a complete betrayal of these unions and their membership. Our two-year wiretap investigation uncovered a shocking level of greed and corruption, and the investigation is very much ongoing.”
The indictment outlines instances in which the defendants allegedly cleared the way for non-union labor to be used on projects that otherwise would have been worked by members of their unions. It contains excerpts identified as being from recorded conversations of meetings during which bribes were paid. The indictment did not provide the names of employers who allegedly paid the bribes.
The indictment charges the defendants with one or more of three counts involving racketeering conspiracy, honest services fraud conspiracy and conspiracy to violate the Taft-Hartley Act. The maximum sentence for conviction on the Taft-Hartley count would be five years, while the other two counts each have 20-year maximum terms in federal prison.
The announcement emphasized that charges in the indictment are merely accusations and the defendants are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.