The Chicago Syndicate: Joel Cacace
Showing posts with label Joel Cacace. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Joel Cacace. 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.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Salvatore Vitale Offers List of Mob Commandments and Chain of Command at Thomas Gioeli Trial

It was summer 1999, and a meeting between the leadership of the Bonanno and Colombo crime families was under way in an apartment off Third Avenue, in Fort Hamilton, Brooklyn. But something was amiss: the seat that should have been taken by William Cutolo Sr., a Colombo underboss, was empty, a former Bonanno underboss testified on Tuesday.

The absence was noted, and then cryptically explained by another Colombo mobster: “You can’t take in this life what’s not yours,” the witness, Salvatore Vitale, recalled the man as saying.

Mr. Vitale, then the underboss of the Bonanno crime family, said he immediately knew what that meant. “I realized then that Wild Bill was dead,” said Mr. Vitale, invoking the nickname of Mr. Cutolo, one of six people whose killings are at the heart of the prosecution of Thomas Gioeli, who prosecutors believe is a former acting boss of the Colombo crime family, and Dino Saracino, who they allege was one of his hit men. The trial of the two men, charged with murder and racketeering, began on Monday.

Mr. Vitale, once known as Good Looking Sal, is admittedly no innocent bystander, nor is he a stranger to the witness stand. Following his arrest in 2003, he quickly began working with the authorities, and his testimony on Tuesday was the seventh time he had taken the stand in Federal District Court in Brooklyn on behalf of the government.

Currently under witness protection, Mr. Vitale has been credited by prosecutors with identifying more than 500 organized crime members and associates. Dozens of them, including Joseph C. Massino, a former Bonanno boss and Mr. Vitale’s brother-in-law, have been imprisoned as a result.

Most of Mr. Vitale’s testimony, under questioning by Christina M. Posa, an assistant United States attorney, amounted to a colorful primer on mob life, as he spoke casually of his nearly 30-year association with the Bonanno family.

At one point, Mr. Vitale was invited off the witness stand to outline the organizational structure of a typical crime family, presented on a large poster board as if it were a boardroom breakdown of a white-collar company. But Mr. Vitale spoke of a criminal hierarchy: the robberies, the loan-sharking, the “hijacking” of trucks carrying “tuna fish, lobster, clothes,” and the homicides.

He offered what amounted to a list of commandments for anyone hoping to succeed and survive in organized crime. “The dos are, ‘Do what you’re told, and you’ll be fine,’ ” he said, underscoring the vital importance of the chain of command in the Bonanno and other crime families.

The chain of command, he emphasized, was essential, especially when murder was involved. “We’re all supposed to be tough guys, we’re all supposed to be shooters,” he said. “But you have to get permission to do something like that.”

Mr. Cutolo disappeared on May 26, 1999; Alphonse Persico, then the boss of the Colombo family, and John DeRoss have been convicted in the killing.

In Mr. Vitale’s four hours on the stand, which included a cross-examination by Carl J. Herman, a lawyer for Mr. Gioeli, he only began to establish Mr. Gioeli’s connection to organized crime.

Mr. Vitale told the court that he had first met Mr. Gioeli, also known as Tommy Shots, when Joel Cacace Sr. — whom prosecutors have called a consigliere, or top mob adviser in the Colombo family — said he wanted Mr. Gioeli to act as a go-between.

“Joe Waverly,” Mr. Vitale said, using a nickname for Mr. Cacace, “had a lot of heat on him — the F.B.I. was all over him,” so he wanted Mr. Gioeli to, in a sense, be his public face.

Several meetings between Mr. Vitale and Mr. Gioeli followed. At some of those meetings, in the mid-1990s, Mr. Vitale said, Mr. Gioeli requested the Bonanno family’s approval, as was customary, of new members the Colombo family was considering. But at the time, the Colombo family’s internal struggle had been raging, and a commission of the top leadership from New York’s main crime families had to halt the Colombo family’s growth.

“When it’s all over the news, all over the newspapers,” Mr. Vitale said of the Colombo power struggle, “it’s bad for business.”

Thanks to Noah Rosenberg

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Reputed Mobster Charged in Cop Assassination

A reputed mobster was charged Thursday with ordering a hit on an off-duty New York Police Department officer who at the time was married to his ex-wife _ a slaying that had gone unsolved for more than a decade.

An indictment unsealed in federal court in Brooklyn also brought new charges in three other gangland killings dating to 1994. They included that of William "Wild Bill" Cutolo, an underboss with the Colombo organized crime family whose body was discovered in October buried in a wooded area of Long Island.

The case demonstrates investigators' determination to catch mob killers "no matter how much time passes," U.S. Attorney Benton Campbell at a news conference.

The indictment charged Joel Cacace, 67, the former acting Colombo boss, and two other men in the shooting death of Officer Ralph Dols on Aug. 25, 1997. Cacace already is behind bars after pleading guilty in 2004 in a mistaken mob hit on a 78-year-old judge whose son, a former prosecutor, was the intended target.

Dols was killed "merely because he was married to Cacace's ex-wife," said David Cardona, head of the criminal division in the FBI's New York office.

Authorities refused to discuss how the cases were solved. But in recent years, mob turncoats have identified killers _ and sometimes pinpointed the remains of their victims _ in other cases that had gone cold.

Dols, 28, was ambushed around midnight as he arrived home from a shift as a uniformed housing police officer. While parking his car, a man jumped out of a dark-colored Chevrolet, fired seven shots, then fled.

The killing touched off an intense, wide-ranging investigation involving federal and local authorities. It also drew attention to the officer's wife and her alleged links to the Mafia through three other men from her past: a brother and reputed Colombo soldier who was convicted of murder in 1981, a husband found shot to death in 1987 in an apparent mob hit and Cacace.

In the Cutolo slaying, prosecutors say the victim was targeted in May 1999 because the Colombo boss believed he was trying to take over the family. He was gunned down in a basement apartment, then buried in Farmingdale, Long Island, court papers said.

Thanks to Tom Hays

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Reputed Colombo Mob Figures Indicted in Murder of Police Officer

Eleven years after an off-duty police officer was assassinated by gunmen lying in wait outside his home in Sheepshead Bay, federal prosecutors charged three accused mob figures on Thursday in the shooting, removing a high-profile murder from the ranks of unsolved cases while painting the motive as one of simple romantic jealousy.

The charges were announced with the unsealing of a murder and racketeering indictment brought by federal prosecutors in Brooklyn, seeming to begin the process of closing the book on the Aug. 25, 1997, murder of the officer, Ralph C. Dols, 28. The indictment also charges a fourth accused mob figure in the murders of two other mobsters.

Prosecutors said that a Colombo crime family consigliere who has long been suspected in the slaying, Joel Cacace, 67, ordered the murder. Mr. Cacace, also known as Joe Waverly, had once been married to the officer’s wife, Kim T. Kennaugh, an investigator said. He is in prison after pleading guilty in 2004 to racketeering charges. The other three defendants are also in custody on other charges from an earlier version of the indictment. All four men are expected to be arraigned on Friday in federal court in Brooklyn.

In addition to Mr. Cacace, the indictment charges Dino Calabro, 42, identified as a captain and also known as Big Dino, and Dino Saracino, 36, who prosecutors say is a soldier known as Little Dino.

“Big Dino Calabro and Little Dino Saracino ambushed Officer Dols and shot him repeatedly outside his Brooklyn home, leaving him to die in the street,” said David Cardona, the special agent in charge of the criminal division in the New York office of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, speaking at a news conference on Thursday. “The murder was ordered by Colombo consigliere Joe Waverly Cacace merely because Dols was married to Cacace’s ex-wife.”

One investigator said the motive for the officer’s slaying came down to Mr. Cacace’s image. “From an organized crime perspective, this was insulting to Joel that she had married a cop,” the investigator said, adding, “and because he had a high-ranking position in the Colombo family, it looked bad for him.”

An earlier husband of Ms. Kennaugh’s, a Colombo hit man, also was murdered, in 1987. A woman answering the door of Ms. Kennaugh’s home in Staten Island, heavily festooned with Christmas decorations, said, “No, no,” and shut the door on a reporter inquiring about the case on Thursday.

The indictment, which is largely based on evidence provided by a new cooperating witness from the Colombo family, law enforcement officials said, also charges Mr. Calabro and Mr. Saracino with the 1999 murder of William Cutolo Sr. Mr. Cutolo was a Colombo family acting underboss and union official whose body was finally found on Long Island this year after an informant tipped off the authorities.

The fourth defendant, Thomas Gioeli, 56, who was an acting boss in the family and is known as Tommy Shots, is also charged in the killing of Mr. Cutolo.

Mr. Cardona said the murders led to promotions in the crime family. “That’s why mobsters commit murder,” he said. “Our intelligence revealed that Calabro became a made member of the Colombo family after the murder of Ralph Dols, and he became a capo after the Cutolo murder. Saracino was inducted into the family because of his participation in both murders.”

Officer Dols had driven home after finishing his shift at a Coney Island housing project and was parking his car at 11:38 p.m. when three men drove up in a dark Chevrolet Caprice and opened fire. He was wounded three times in the abdomen and twice in the arm before he could step from behind the wheel or pull his gun. He died in surgery at Coney Island Hospital the next morning. He had been on the force for four and a half years.

He and Ms. Kennaugh, who was 38 at the time of the slaying, had been married for two years and had had a daughter three months earlier. Ms. Kennaugh’s brother, August, was convicted in the 1981 murder of a Queens restaurant owner and had also been identified as a Colombo soldier.

The shooting rattled the already embattled Police Department, which was facing accusations in the brutality case of Abner Louima, who was sodomized with a broomstick in the restroom of the 70th Precinct station house earlier that month, on Aug. 9, 1997. As Mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani eulogized Officer Dols at the crowded funeral Mass, thousands of demonstrators gathered at Grand Army Plaza for a march to City Hall to protest the Louima case.

Police Commissioner Raymond W. Kelly called for capital punishment. “The murder of a police officer is an attack on society at large and merits the death penalty,” he said in a statement.

The indictment also charges Mr. Calabro with the 1994 murder of Carmine Gargano and charges Mr. Gioeli, Mr. Calabro and Mr. Saracino with the 1995 murder of Richard Greaves. The bodies have not been found.

Thanks to Michael Wilson and William K. Rashbaum

When You Get Serious About Tailgating


Crime Family Index