The Chicago Syndicate: Andrew Merola
Showing posts with label Andrew Merola. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Andrew Merola. Show all posts

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Obama's NLRB Pick, Richard Griffin, Tied to Mob?

The rap sheet for members of the International Union of Operating Engineers reads like something out of "Goodfellas."

Embezzlement. Wire fraud. Bribery. That's just scratching the surface of crimes committed by the IUOE ranks. And it is from this union that President Obama earlier this year picked one of his latest appointees to the National Labor Relations Board, the federal agency tasked with resolving labor disputes between unions and management.

That recess appointee, Richard Griffin, was former general counsel for the 400,000-member union of heavy equipment operators -- a union tainted over the years by mob connections and a history of corruption.

Public documents obtained by Fox News show that more than 60 IUOE members have been arrested, indicted or jailed in the last decade on charges that include labor racketeering, extortion, criminal enterprise, bodily harm and workplace sabotage.

In some of the more egregious examples, federal prosecutors alleged in February 2003 that the Genovese and Colombo crime families wrested control of two IUOE locals, and stole $3.6 million from major New York area construction projects -- including the Museum of Modern Art and minor league baseball stadiums for the Yankees and Mets in Staten and Coney Islands.

Congress and the American public may never know whether Griffin's fiduciary responsibilities as general counsel were compromised by the avalanche of arrests, indictments and prosecutions of IUOE members. Griffin did not respond to Fox News' request for an interview. Before joining the NLRB, he served in various positions at the IUOE dating back to 1983. But records indicate he did not take an active role in representing any of the accused union members in criminal matters while he was general counsel for the union.

In at least one case during Griffin's tenure, the IUOE national headquarters placed a local that had run afoul of the law into trusteeship. But it remains unclear what other firewalls, if any, Griffin erected to separate the national union from its corrupt locals, or how he dealt with individual local union members who were in legal trouble.

On April 9, 2008, a dozen high-ranking members of an IUOE local in Buffalo, N.Y., were arrested for damaging more than 40 pieces of heavy machinery at construction sites where non-union workers were hired. They poured sand into oil systems, and cut tires and fuel lines. They also ran the license plate numbers of victims through a state database to get personal information including  the names and addresses of victims' wives.

Among the individual union members and associates prosecuted in various investigations were: 

  •     Andrew Merola, a high-ranking member of the Gambino crime family who, in 2010, admitted to committing nine different acts of racketeering, including wire fraud involving a no-show/low-show job he got as an operating engineer for local 825 of the IUOE.
  •     James Roemer, a former treasurer of Operating Engineers local 14,  who was sentenced  in September 2003 to 41  months imprisonment and ordered to pay $2.7 million in restitution for conspiracy to fraudulently receive unlawful labor payments.
  •     Joel Waverly Cacace, Sr. The imprisoned acting boss of the Colombo crime family conspired with IUOE members to get a paid no-show construction job for his son, Jo-Jo Cacace, Jr. The senior Cacace was sent to prison in February 2003 for 20 years. The three-year investigation that sent him to jail also produced more than 24 other convictions.

Former U.S. Attorney and present New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie prosecuted some of the IUOE criminal cases. In one of Christie's prosecutions, Kenneth Campbell, the former business manager of local 825 of the IUOE,  pleaded guilty to embezzling $200,000 from his union and taking bribes from contractors to buy high-end electronics and a Lincoln Town Car for his father, a retired IUOE member.

Then-U.S. Attorney Christie, said, "Campbell and his cronies were simply corrupt. They treated local 825 like a piggy bank at will to treat themselves to luxuries at the expense of dues-paying members they ripped off."

Because he was recess appointed, Richard Griffin, Jr., underwent no congressional scrutiny before he was sworn in on Jan. 9 of this year.

At the time of his recess appointment, Sen. Mike Enzi, R-Wyo., ranking member of the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee, told the Wall Street Journal he was, "extremely disappointed" in Obama's decision  to "avoid the constitutionally mandated Senate confirmation process." He said that two of three nominees for the NLRB, including Griffin, were submitted to the Senate on Dec. 15, just before the Senate was to adjourn, allowing only a day to review the nominees.

Griffin has been an advocate for enhanced NLRB power for decades.

In 1988 testimony before the U.S. House Subcommittee on Employer/Employee relations, Griffin, who was then serving on the Board of Trustees of IUOE's Central Pension Fund, argued for more power for the NLRB to fine companies without a court order to enforce its rulings. He also argued against legislation that would have forced the NLRB and the Department of Labor to pay the legal costs for small businesses who won in court against unions.

Griffin's tenure on the NLRB will be longer than most recess appointees. The president delayed his appointment by one day until the start of a new congressional session -- effectively  doubling to two years his stay. Recess appointments last until the end of the Senate's next session -- meaning Griffin will sit on the NLRB until December 2013.

Thanks to Doug McKelway.

Thursday, January 07, 2010

Reputed Gambino Mobster, Andrew Merola, Pleads Guilty

A reputed high-ranking member of the Gambino crime family in New Jersey pleaded guilty to federal racketeering conspiracy charges today, admitting he led a crew that profited from illegal gambling, loan-sharking, extortion, identity theft, fraud and labor racketeering.

Andrew Merola of East Hanover confessed his guilt during a hearing before U.S. District Judge Stanley R. Chesler in Newark. He became the 20th defendant to make a deal with prosecutors and plead guilty to charges outlined in a sweeping May 2008 racketeering indictment.

Three remaining defendants, including Martin Taccetta, a reputed former underboss of the Lucchese crime family’s New Jersey faction, are awaiting trial.

Merola, who prosecutors say enjoyed a lavish lifestyle purportedly supported by a job as a crane operator, was among 23 reputed members and associates of the Gambino and Lucchese crime families accused in 2008 if engaging in what the FBI called a “veritable smorgasbord of criminal activity.”

The defendants were accused of shaking down lunch-truck operators, putting mobsters in no-show jobs, using union muscle to collect bribes to allow non-union workers on construction sites and raking in hefty profits from bettors who wagered more than $1 million a month.

In his plea, Merola acknowledged those crimes and also admitted his crew targeted retailers, including a Lowe’s home improvement store in Paterson, where conspirators bought high-ticket power tools, wide-screen televisions and appliances by switching bar code labels from less expensive items and then returning the products for refunds or gift cards. With an insider’s help, they also attempted to steal the identities of patrons who applied for Lowe’s credit cards, Merola said.

Wearing a pin-stripped charcoal suit, Merola declined comment after the hearing, except to say that he is not cooperating with the government. Under the terms of his plea deal, he faces 10 to 12 years in prison. A sentencing date was not immediately set.

Thanks to Peter J. Sampson

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Joseph "Joe Onions" Scanlon's Remains Are Confirmed

It's official. The remains found behind an East Providence apartment building in November 2008 are those of mob associate Joseph "Joe Onions" Scanlon.

Scanlon died from a gunshot wound to the head, according to the state Medical Examiner's Office. The M.E. used forensic anthropology and DNA analysis to identify the remains and the cause of death.

“We hope that this information will bring closure for the family,” said Director of Health David R. Gifford, MD, MPH. “This death occurred 30 years ago. We hope this gives them peace."

Scanlon disappeared April 3, 1978. From that day, until his remains were discovered, authorities could only suspect Scanlon was the victim of a gangland slaying. In fact, Patriarca crime family associates Nicholas Pari and Andy Merola served time in prison in connection with Scanlon's death, even though investigators never found the body.

It wasn't until November 2008, when State Police arrested Pari during their investigation "Operation Mobbed Up," that they discovered the location of Scanlon's body.

Pari told investigators the remains could be behind the Lisboa apartment complex on Bullocks Point Ave in East Providence. After days of excavating the site, authorities uncovered the remains which have now be postively identified as Scanlon's.

Pari died of cancer at the age of 71, a month after Scanlon's remains were uncovered. Merola died in 2007 without divulging the secret.

Thanks to Nancy Krause

Monday, December 29, 2008

Old Mobster, Nicholas Pari, Reveals Secret Burial Ground, Days Before He Enters His Own Grave

They came for the gravely ill racketeer last month, appearing at his North Providence home around dawn. His time was near, but not as near as the police officers at his door. He went peacefully.

Soon he was at state police headquarters, where veteran detectives knew him well: Nicholas Pari, once the smart-dressing mobster whose nickname, “Nicky,” had clearly not taxed the Mafia muse. Now 71, with gauze wrapped around his cancer-ruined neck: Nicky Pari.

The arrest, for running a crime ring from a flea market, put him in a reflective mood, and he said some things he clearly needed to say, including that he was dying. Still, ever-faithful to that perverse code of the streets, he seemed insulted when asked about the deeds of others.

“He wouldn’t cooperate beyond talking about himself and his past actions,” says Col. Brendan Doherty, the state police superintendent, who knew Mr. Pari from long years spent investigating Rhode Island crime, back when it was more organized.

The gaunt man did not weep, though his voice softened as he spoke with regret about a life that had fallen far short of its promised glamour and riches, a life heavy with guilt over one particular act. And in confessing this one act, Nicky Pari gave up a ghost.

“He was making an attempt at an act of contrition,” says Lt. Col. Steven O’Donnell, who also knew Mr. Pari from way back when and had listened to his old adversary’s words of regret.

That same day, detectives took the mobster for a 19-mile ride, following his directions as he zeroed in on the past. To East Providence. To the Lisboa Apartments. To a grassy backyard bordered by a listing stockade fence.

What he indicated next, whether through words or gestures or even a nod, was this: Here. Deep beneath this blanket of dormant grass, you will find him — here. Soon the claws of backhoes were disturbing the earth.

Thirty years ago, organized crime in Rhode Island was still like a rogue public utility. Raymond L. S. Patriarca, the old man with bullet tips for eyes, still ran the New England rackets from a squat building on Federal Hill. And men, from the merely dishonest to the profoundly psychopathic, still followed his rules.

Among them was Nicky Pari, who supposedly declined the honor to join the Mafia because he preferred the freelance life. If not made, he was known, in part because he had done time for helping a Patriarca lieutenant hijack a truck with a $50,000 load of dresses.

In April 1978, he and another freelancer, Andrew Merola, decided to address the delicate matter of a police informant within their ranks, a droopy-eyed young man from Hartford named Joseph Scanlon. The theories behind his nickname, “Joe Onions,” are that he made the girls cry or, more prosaically, that his surname sounded like scallion.

One morning Mr. Pari lured Mr. Scanlon and his girlfriend, who was holding their infant daughter, into Mr. Merola’s social club, in a Federal Hill building now long gone. Mr. Pari struck Mr. Scanlon in the face. Then Mr. Merola fired a bullet that shot through the man’s head and caught the tip of one of Mr. Pari’s fingers.

The girlfriend was ordered to leave the room. When she came back, her child’s father was wrapped in plastic near the door, his jewelry gone, his boots placed beside his body. A package, awaiting delivery.

The girlfriend, once described as a “stand-up girl” who wouldn’t talk, did, and the two men were convicted of murder in a case lacking a central piece of evidence: the body. They successfully appealed their convictions, but in 1982 they pleaded no contest to reduced charges in a deal that required them to say where the body was. Dumped in Narragansett Bay, they said.

Few believed this story, perhaps because it lacked the panache desired of a Rhode Island-style rubout. For years afterward, people would call the police and The Providence Journal with tips like: Joe Onions is in the trunk of a scrapped Cadillac. Check it out.

Perhaps, too, there was the inexplicable charm of Mafia sobriquets. In a state whose mobster roll call includes nicknames like “The Blind Pig” and “The Moron,” one wonders whether Joe Onions would be remembered had he been known, simply, as Joe Scanlon.

The years passed. The paroled Mr. Merola opened a Federal Hill restaurant called Andino’s, while the paroled Mr. Pari gravitated toward flea markets. They were often seen together, sitting in a lounge in Smithfield, or attending a testimonial for a mob associate in Providence, that damaged finger of Mr. Pari’s, holding a glass or maybe a cigarette, always there.

Mr. Merola died of cancer last year, leaving Mr. Pari to bear their secret alone. He went on as a father, a grandfather and, apparently, the man to see in a grimy flea market in a stretch of Providence where auto-body shops reign.

Last month the police arrested Mr. Pari and a motley mix of others for crimes of the flea market that put the lie to The Life, including the supposed trading of guns and drugs for more fungible items like counterfeit handbags and sneakers. Still, he remained bound to Mr. Merola; in arranging to sell illegal prescription drugs for a measly $320, for example, he chose to meet an undercover officer at his departed friend’s restaurant.

At state police headquarters, before that ride to East Providence, Mr. Pari expressed remorse for helping to kill Joe Onions, remorse that he admitted had deepened as he faced his own mortality. Seeing the anguish his own family was going through, he knew he could ease another family’s 30-year pain by sharing one detail that only he knew.

Don’t misunderstand, Lieutenant Colonel O’Donnell says. Mr. Pari could have shared this detail days before his arrest, months before, decades before — but he lied instead, for reasons known only to him. “It doesn’t make him a good guy,” the police official says. “But he’s a human being.”

Hours after leading the police to the place that had haunted him since 1978, Mr. Pari appeared in District Court in Providence, unshaven, diminished, in a wheelchair. Released on bail, he returned home to his hospice bed and oxygen tank.

Meanwhile, back in East Providence, backhoes mined the sandy past. They dug until dark that Monday afternoon, then returned to dig all day Tuesday, as detectives and spectators shivered and watched, as the November sun offered little warmth, as the smell of fried food wafted from a Chinese restaurant a few yards away.

Finally, late on that Wednesday, the scoop of a backhoe pulled up things of interest from more than a dozen feet below, including a boot that seemed to match a description. The mechanical dig stopped and a human dig began, with investigators using a sifting pan to separate bone from earth.

It isn’t as though you can dig anywhere in Rhode Island and find a body. But Colonel Doherty, the state police superintendent, says he will not confirm this was Joseph Scanlon until a match is made with some DNA provided by one of Mr. Scanlon’s siblings. He adds that even though 30 years have passed, among the Scanlons “there was always a hope that he was not dead.”

On a cold night late last week, an old mobster died at his home in North Providence, freed of one secret he would not have to take to the grave.

Thanks to Dan Barry

Friday, May 09, 2008

Reputed High-Ranking Gambino Figure Among 23 Named in Racketeering Indictment

A man the feds call one of the highest-ranking members of the Gambino crime family in New Jersey was among 23 people named Thursday in a racketeering indictment.

Andrew Merola, 41, of East Hanover was arrested and charged in an 82-page indictment with more than 20 counts that include running an illegal gambling ring, racketeering and extortion, among other charges.

Of the 23 people named in the indictment, 10 were arrested Thursday; the other 13 were issued summonses to appear in court.

Weysan Dun, the special agent in charge of the FBI in New Jersey, said all 23 people named in the indictment are reputed members and associates of Mafia factions. Also picked up in the sweep were Charles Muccigrosso, 68, of Newark, whom the FBI also described as a high-ranking Gambino crime family member, and Martin Taccetta, 56, of East Hanover, a reputed Lucchese crime family member who was granted a retrial in state court over a brutal 1980s murder.

Dun said the arrests were the result of a nearly two-year investigation. He said the bust would deal a significant blow to the Gambino crime family, coming on the heels of a large bust in New York that netted dozens of Gambino figures in February.

"Those out there in the 'wiseguy' community that think that crime pays: Forget about it," Dun said.

Some of the alleged schemes outlined in the indictment include manipulating union contract bidding; defrauding the chain store Lowe's by manufacturing fake bar codes to buy expensive power tools for pennies on the dollar, and rigging union jobs and construction contracts to force coffee cart vendors to pay kickbacks for being allowed to park their lunch trucks at construction sites.

Dun said that although the charges didn't involve physical violence, they were serious crimes that hurt honest working people.

"The message I hope organized crime families take from this is if they think law enforcement's focus on organized crime has diminished, you can be assured that we'll come after you," he said.

Thanks to Samantha Henry

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