NEW YORK (CN) – A construction union in Brooklyn has been “infiltrated, controlled, influenced, and corrupted” by two La Cosa Nostra mob families “since at least the 1980s,” according to a government RICO lawsuit. The federal complaint seeks an injunction to stop area mobsters convicted of racketeering-related charges from associating with Local 14, along with a court order to revamp the troubled union.
La Cosa Nostra, a nationwide mob organization also known as the Mafia or “Our Thing,” has allegedly “used (its) control of various labor unions to demand and receive payoffs from union employers of union members in exchange for labor peace, to embezzle union funds, and to engage in other racketeering acts,” according to the lawsuit.
More specifically, the lawsuit fingers two mob-associated families, the Genovese and Colombo families, and their corrupt control over one union. “In a number of instances, friends and relatives of members and associates of the Colombo and Genovese Families have been given well-paying jobs – at the expense of Local 14’s membership – as the mob exploited the union,” the lawsuit says.
The lawsuit is a follow-up to the convictions of 48 members of the Genovese and Colombo organizations, most of whom plead guilty to racketeering, mail fraud, extortion, embezzlement, bribery, or unlawful labor payments in connection with Local 14. Most members were convicted between 2003 and 2005, but the most recent conviction happened last year.
The injunction targets 25 RICO conspirators who allegedly represent an ongoing racketeering threat. The government wants the conspirators stopped from ever engaging in racketeering activities, associating with criminals, participating in unions, including Local 14, or helping any member of La Cosa Nostra to control or influence Local 14.
The government also wants the court to appoint an Ethical Practices Attorney to overhaul the administration of Local 14, including suspending union elections until the attorney and the court decide that fair elections can be carried out, and revising the union’s bylaws, job referral rules, and membership rules.
The lawsuit describes the mob families as highly organized. Each family has an official head, or boss, who is assisted by an “underboss,” or “consigliere.” Below that are “captains” – also called “skippers,” “caporegimes,” or capodecinas” who head “crews” of “soldiers” or “buttons.” According to the government, “each captain is responsible for supervising the criminal activities of his crew and providing crew members and associates with support and protection. In return, the captain receives a share of the earnings of the crew’s members and associates.”