11 NY construction labor officials including James Cahill charged with racketeering, fraud and bribery

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Steamfitters Local 638 web page
Steamfitters Local 638 webpage

James Cahill, president of the New York State Building and Construction Trades Council, which represents more than 200,000 unionized construction workers, is among 11 labor officials indicted on Oct. 1 on charges including racketeering, fraud and bribery.

Federal prosecutors allege Cahill, also an executive council member of the state AFL-CIO, accepted bribes to act in favor of non-union employers and to exercise “corrupt influence within the construction trade.”

Cahill and the other defendants allegedly accepted bribes worth more than $100,000 since Oct. 2018, Manhattan prosecutors say. Nine of them are current and former officials of the Enterprise Association of Steamfitters Local 638, representing pipe fitters in New York and Long Island, NBC New York reported. As well, corruption is alleged with Local Union 200 of the United Association of Journeyman and Apprentices of the Plumbing and Pipe Fitting Industry of the United States and Canada (Local 200).

In one instance, prosecutors claim, Cahill specifically urged a non-union employer that allegedly bribed him not to unionize.

The 11 men face variety of charges that included racketeering conspiracy and honest services fraud conspiracy, which carry sentences of up to 20 years in prison.

“As alleged, the defendants exploited their labor organization positions to line their own pockets. They did so at the expense of the unions and their members by accepting bribes to favor non-union employers and corruptly influence the construction trade,” Attorney for the United States Ilan Graff said in a statement.

The indictment says that Cahill led the corruption by influencing Local 638’s elections and installed loyal associates into official positions within the local. “Cahill initiated several Local 638 officials into the Enterprise so they could accept bribes and expand their influence,” the US Attorney’s news release said.

“For example, after Cahill brought defendant Patrick Hill into the Enterprise as a union official who would – and did – accept bribes, Cahill told a non-union employer from whom Cahill and Hill had received bribes (Employer-1): “Here’s the thing.  I give you Paddy [Hill].  But if Paddy fucks up and does stupid things, you have to tell me . . . I got my guys, I got the guys who come to me, and you know that, and everyone knows who comes to me.”

Cahill told Hill, following Hill’s receipt of a bribe from Employer-1, “Welcome to the real world.”

See the US Attorney’s news release here, containing additional details of the indictment

Norton similarly stated in a meeting at which Norton, Cahill, and Hill received bribes: “The real world is the real world and there’s . . . always wiggle room as long as everyone . . . understands each other, and everyone’s taken care of.”

In a statement, The AFL-CIO described the charges as “alarming.”

“We want to be very clear however that none of the charges involve actions of the New York State AFL-CIO. While at this point, these are allegations – we must be unequivocal: the integrity of the Labor Movement is of paramount importance to the New York State AFL-CIO,” the group’s president Mario Cilento said.

The statement named the other defendants as Christopher Kraft, Matthew Norton, William Brian Wangerman, Kevin McCarron, Jeremy Sheeran (aka ‘Max’), Andrew McKeon and Robert Egan, who were charged with racketeering, fraud and bribery offences.  As well, Scott Roche and Arthur Gipson are charged with fraud and bribery offences.

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