BROOKLYN (CN) – An ousted union official whose father and grandfather were members of the Colombo crime family claims the Laborers International Union stripped him of his posts in a concrete workers’ local because of his family name.
Ralph J. Scopo claims he was removed from office on bogus charges involving a vacation-check scam. He says the real reason they removed him was because of his “intimate association” with his father, Ralph Scopo Jr.
Scopo sued the Laborers’ International Union of North America (LIUNA), the Cement & Concrete Workers District Council, LIUNA’s Flushing-based Local 6A Concrete Workers, and union officials Bruce Mouw and Alex Castaldi, in Federal Court.
Scopo, 41, says he joined LIUNA in 1988 as a construction worker and rose through the ranks of Local 6A due to his “excellent employment record.”
Scopo says his fellow union members appointed and elected him to various positions, including recording secretary, business manager and secretary treasurer, which required responsibility and union loyalty.
He claims that “in or around 2008, plaintiff was audited by LIUNA’s Inspector General’s Office, who found that plaintiff was doing ‘a great job’ as secretary treasurer.
“In addition, the auditor found that plaintiff’s office was being ‘run perfectly’ and that plaintiff ‘set the standard for all other LIUNA locals to follow,'” according to the complaint.
Scopo says LIUNA decided to oust him anyway, because of his family ties.
“(D)espite the accolades from the auditor, plaintiff’s deposition was taken by LIUNA’s Office of the Special Counsel in or around 2009 because of his intimate association with his father,” the complaint states.
“Plaintiff’s deposition lasted eight (8) hours while the depositions of other similarly-situated union members lasted half as long.
“Plaintiff’s deposition focused exclusively on his father’s and grandfather’s purported relationship with organized crime, which was intended to belittle, embarrass and harass plaintiff.
“Despite his repeated statements that he lacked knowledge of any illegal activity and any involvement in organized crime, plaintiff’s deposition continued and was intended to belittle, embarrass and harass plaintiff.”
Scopo’s grandfather, Ralph Scopo Sr., ran the union in the 1980s, while acting as consigliere for the Colombo family. In 1986, Scopo Sr. and Mafia boss Junior Persico were found guilty of racketeering and extortion and sentenced to 100 years in prison. Scopo Sr. died in prison in 1993.
Scopo claims that while he “maintains a father/son familial relationship with his father, he has never engaged in, or conducted illegal activities or business with his father or his father’s purported associates.”
“Other than having a father/son relationship with his father, plaintiff has never been charged with participating in organized crime nor has he been associated with criminal activity,” according to the complaint.
Scopo claims LIUNA booted him under pressure from the federal government.
“In an agreement with the United States of America (‘United States’), which is still in effect as of the date of this writing, LIUNA and the United States are jointly pursuing various courses of action designed to ensure that all locals and other entities within LIUNA are rid of any corrupting influence of any member of organized crime,” the complaint states.
“The United States, through LIUNA, sought the complete elimination of corrupting influence on any entity within LIUNA, even if innocent third parties’ constitutional rights are violated,” Scopo says.
The complaint states: “Beginning in December 2010, in an attempt to show the United States progress in combating corruption, LIUNA began to execute its systematic irradiation of all suspected organized crime members, including those with uncorroborated ties to or those who had family members associated with organized crime.
“Plaintiff, a LIUNA member in good standing since 1988, was never a part of corrupting influence, nor was he investigated as being such a corrupting influence but is only alleged to have been part of corrupting intimate association between plaintiff and his father.
“As a result, LIUNA began an effort to remove plaintiff from his position as a Board member and the other positions held by plaintiff based on false allegations, improper motives and extreme means.”
In December 2010, LIUNA claimed that Scopo was involved in a “vacation pay scheme,” in which vacation days were cashed out improperly. LIUNA also accused him of orchestrating a purported “coffee boy scheme,” Scopo says.
The coffee boy scheme originated in the 1980s, when workers at every job site controlled by the Colombos were forced to buy lunch-break food and drinks exclusively from Mob-selected vendors, who kicked back as much as $250 a week to the family.
“The complaint falsely alleged that ‘Ralph Scopo Jr. and the Colombo crime family still run the union, and steal from its members regularly, through Ralph J. Scopo, and a host of puppets they control,'” according to the complaint.
It continues: “The complaint falsely stated that ‘Scopo III (plaintiff) is controlled lock, stock and cement mixer by the still imprisoned Mafia boss, Junior Persico’.
“The complaint falsely stated that plaintiff is a ‘[l]ying, money-hungry leech who has been stealing money from hardworking laborers for at least 9 years …’
“The complaint falsely alleged that plaintiff created the vacation pay scheme to effectuate his theft.”
Scopo claims that Castaldi, a former LIUNA business manager, threatened, harassed and defamed him to force him to resign as secretary treasurer, which was coveted by one of Castaldi’s friends.
“Defendant Castaldi told plaintiff that because of his last name, he was going to be found guilty in the investigation, removed from his position, and that he should just resign so that he could appoint his friend to the position and prevent the seat from going into the hands of the trustee,” according to the complaint.
Scopo claims Castaldi threatened to mail to Local members copies of news articles on the murder of Scopo’s uncle, a former vice president of local 6A who was shot in a Mob war in 1992.
He claims that Castaldi mailed Local members notice of Scopo’s hearing and included false statements that Scopo and the Colombo family had forced a former business manager out of office, so that Scopo could take his position and steal money from union members.
“Defendant Castaldi’s actions were done with malice and were severe and outrageous because Castaldi intentionally misled union members to believe that plaintiff was stealing money and that plaintiff was a thief, which was false,” the complaint states.
“Additionally, LIUNA investigator Bruce Mouw (‘Mouw’), a retired special agent of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), sent FBI agents to plaintiff’s home with a fake subpoena in order to scare him into talking about the purported organized criminal activity within LIUNA.”
Scopo says that though an external auditor found that he had done nothing wrong and that board members were entitled to payment for unused vacation time, after a March hearing, LIUNA removed him from his position as business manager and appointed a trustee in his place.
He says that though he was allowed to retain his membership in the Local and carry out his mandate as trustee to the funds, Castaldi tried to remove him from this position before the end of his term.
“Defendant Castaldi intentionally and with malice interfered with plaintiff’s position as trustee to the funds in order to appoint his friend to the position,” the complaint states.
Scopo claims that after LIUNA illegally removed him from his union positions, he tried to start his own Local, but LIUNA sabotaged that through threats and coercion.
Scopo seeks compensatory and punitive damages for constitutional violations, libel and slander, abuse of process, intentional infliction of emotional distress, unfair labor practices and other violations of the National Labor Relations Act, the Labor-Management Reporting and Disclosure Act and New York labor laws. And he wants the defendants enjoined from their unlawful practices and from retaliating against him.
He is represented by Peter Famighetti with Borrelli & Associates of Carle Place, N.Y.