Three N.Y. union leaders guilty of racketeering, extortion

By Michael P. Tremoglie | May 14, 2012

NEW YORK (Legal Newsline) -- Three leaders of a United Food and Commercial Workers International Union local have been found guilty of racketeering, and extortion in connection with their roles as union officials from 1989 through June 2011.

The Department of Justice's Manhattan office said Anthony Fazio Sr., Anthony Fazio Jr. and John Fazio Jr. were convicted May 10 after a three-week federal jury trial. Anthony Fazio Sr. and John Fazio were convicted of money laundering conspiracy. Anthony Fazio Sr. also was convicted of witness tampering in connection with attempts to persuade a witness to commit perjury before a federal grand jury. Anthony Fazio Sr. was the President of Local 348-S from 1976 to January 2010. John Fazio was a vice president. Anthony Fazio Jr. followed his father as president.

"As the jury found, the Fazios exploited their positions as union bosses to extort money from employers and to raid union coffers and benefit funds for over two decades," Manhattan U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara said. "Their conduct was a betrayal of their membership and left a taint on the union from which it can now recover.

"Unions are institutions that are intended to protect the interests of their members not to line the pockets of their leadership, and we will continue to prosecute and punish those who act otherwise."

The DOJ says the UFCW "is one of the 12 constituent local chapters of the UFCW in New York City." Local 348 is the largest local with about 12,000 members.

"The Fazios used their leadership positions to collect unlawful payments from various employers whose employees had been unionized by the UFCW," the DOJ said. "The Fazio's utilized the threat of possible labor disruptions and other means to extort annual or biannual cash payments from approximately 12 employers and an administrator who handles and processes medical reimbursement claims on behalf of Local 348's Health and Welfare Benefit Funds."

The DOJ says the three personally collected secret cash payments from employers and the fund administrator and at least one employer was extorted by as much as about $25,000 per year and the fund administrator was extorted by as much as $5,000 every month.

They also engaged in a money laundering scheme to steal funds directly from Local 348 and its affiliated Benefit Funds. Among other things, the local was billed using fraudulent invoices for non-existent goods and services. The funds used to pay those bogus invoices subsequently were laundered into cash and siphoned back to them.

The three men extorted and stole well over $1 million from the union during the time period mentioned in the indictment.

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