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Union Says Former Boss Tried to Duck Payback

MANHATTAN (CN) - A former union boss busted for helping himself to its coffers tried to evade paying the organization back by transferring ownership of two of his New York properties to his adult sons, the union claims in court.

John Greaney was president and business manager at Local 608 of the United Brotherhood of Carpenters and Joiners for nine years, and during that time took bribes of cash and even Super Bowl tickets as part of a scheme that allowed contractors to pay union members in cash without benefits, hire undocumented immigrant workers, and refuse to pay promised benefits to union members.

In 2010 Greaney pleaded guilty to 13 charges against him, including racketeering, and was sentenced a year in prison and ordered to pay nearly $5 million in restitution.

However, according to a complaint filed in New York City Supreme Court on October 13, Greaney has paid only $53,000 of that amount.

Instead, the complaint says, in May 2012, he transferred ownership of several properties to his adult sons John and Michael, including a house he owned in Yonkers and a lot in Long Lake, N.Y.

Immediately after Greaney transferred his Long Lake lot to his sons, he was declared insolvent, which would have absolved him of much or all of the remaining restitution owed.

The union now seeks a court order setting aside those transfers, and restraining the sons from selling off the two properties until after Greaney pays off his judgment, claiming the transfers are fraudulent and should have levies attached to them.

The total amount Greaney owes to the union may increase, as well, as in 2011 the union filed an amended complaint with racketeering allegations, which would mean treble damages against Greaney and the other defendants. That action is pending.

The carpenters union has a long history of union corruption and organized crime influence, according to U.S. prosecutors, and has been bound since 1994 by a consent decree.

However, during that time several of its officials took bribes and payouts to let union members violate the union's collective bargaining agreements and hire undocumented workers, among other crimes.

At the time, U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara said "Greaney's guilty plea unfortunately confirms that [mob] corruption has been deeply entrenched within the carpenters union."

Local 608 which operated in Manhattan's West Side and in the Bronx, disbanded in 2010, and its members were transferred to Local 157.

The attorney who represented Greaney during the 2010 trial, Victoria Quesada, could not be reached for comment.

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