The former president of Local 1181 of the Amalgamated Transit Union was sentenced in federal court Thursday to 57 months in prison after pleading guilty last January to extorting tens of thousands of dollars from the owners of three bus companies having contracts with the New York City Department of Education, prosecutors say.
Salvatore "Hotdogs" Battaglia, identified in court papers as an associate of the Genovese organized crime family, served as president of Local 1181 from 2002 to 2006. The union represents almost 15,000 school bus drivers working for companies doing business with the city, prosecutors say.
In addition to his prison term, Battaglia was fined $50,000 and ordered to pay $180,000 in restitution, U.S. Attorney Michael Garcia said.
According to court documents, the Genovese organized crime family has controlled Local 1181 since the 1980's by appointing crime family members and associates to influential positions within the union. In 2000, Battaglia was proposed for membership in the Genovese crime family.
Fearing the union would hurt them and their businesses, the bus company owners made extortion payments to Battaglia who used his union status and association with organized crime to force compliance, court papers say.
According to prosecutors, the case against Battaglia was part of a long term investigation in which 20 others, all identified in court papers as members or associates of various organized crime families, have been charged with extortion, labor racketeering, loansharking, gambling and obstruction of justice.
Battaglia is the third official of Local 1181 to be convicted of crimes while holding office. In 2006, Julius Bernstein, then Secretary/Treasurer pleaded guilty to labor racketeering, gambling, extortion, and robbery over his 30 year career. Also, in 2006, Anne Chiarovano, Director of the Employees' Pension and Welfare Fund, pleaded guilty to obstructing the FBI's investigation into the union's mob connections.
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