US DOJ: Ex-Officials in NY Construction Unions Admit Taking Bribes

Опубликовано: 14 Декабрь 2022

Construction Workers NY

Ex-top construction union officials pleaded guilty to accepting bribes at the cost of unionized laborers. (Photo: Trent Reeves / MTA Construction & Development, Flickr, License)

The former head of a New York construction union and 10 others pleaded guilty on Monday to accepting dozens of bribes against the interests of union workers, the U.S. Department of Justice said.

James Cahill, the politically connected ex-president of the New York State Building and Construction Trades Council, and 10 former union officials admitted to taking illegal bribes from an unnamed construction company between October 2018 and October 2020 while serving as union officers in exchange for helping the company steer clear of union labor.

“The defendants exploited their union positions and hard-working union members to feed their own greed,” U.S. Attorney Damian Williams said. “They accepted bribes to corruptly favor non-union employers and influence the construction trade in New York.“

Cahill, who steered the 200,000 member strong construction trade union association until he was first charged by authorities with racketeering, fraud, and bribery offenses in October 2020, admitted to accepting approximately $44,500 in bribes from the construction employer between October 2018 and October 2020.

He also acknowledged having accepted at least $100,000 prior to that.

The federal prosecutor's statement dubs Cahill as the “leader of the conspiracy,” saying he introduced the construction firm to the 10 others who pleaded guilty to the bribery scheme.

These included former top officials from Locals 638 and 200. They took thousands in bribes from the same company, which had potential projects  within the jurisdiction of the two union locals.

In exchange for the cash, the employer requested repeated favors from Local 638 and Local 200, including favorable collective bargaining deals that would allow the company to pay their workers less, getting the unions’ support in its bids for various construction projects, and allowing the company to falsely claim to developers that they employed union workers.

According to Suffolk County District Attorney Raymond A. Tierney, the defendants accepted bribes and cash payments in restaurant bathrooms.

“These convictions highlight a shocking level of corruption among powerful labor officials in New York State,” Tierney said.

“Through their greed and self-dealing, these defendants betrayed the hard-working members of their respective unions, and undermined the protections meant to be afforded by organized labor.”

The defendants await sentencing by U. S. District Judge Colleen McMahon prior to March 2023.

Cahill faces 20 years in prison. The other defendants face 12 months to 20 years.

In December 2020, two months after Cahill was indicted on these charges, the New York Post reported that federal prosecutors alleged that the former trade union boss had “extensive ties to members of organized crime,” including the late John Gotti, former head of one of the biggest mafia crime families in New York City, the Gambino family.

He also met with Serbian gangsters, according to the same federal filing reported by New York Daily News.