Cindy Rodriguez is the Urban Policy reporter for New York Public Radio.
Mob Has Been Entrenched in Queens Union for Decades, Complaint Claims
Tuesday, January 25, 2011
The arrest of accused Colombo footsoldier Ralph Scopo Jr. during a mafia takedown last week comes on the heels of a report that sheds light on decades of corruption at a Queens-based concrete and cement union that has been handed down through generations of mobbed-up families, according to union documents.
A more than two-year internal investigation into Local 6A by an Inspector General for the Laborers International Union of North America (LIUNA) alleges the union has longstanding ties to organized crime and that mobbed-up members cashed out fake vacation time and shook down a cement contractor.
Scopo Jr.'s lawyer, Paul Madden, said he wasn't familiar enough with the union's internal investigation to comment. He said his client, who is in his 60s, has severe health problems, including diabetes and liver failure.
A person answering the phone at Local 6A Tuesday twice declined to comment.
Scopo Jr., who allegedly controlled Local 6A after his father died in prison serving a life sentence, was among those fingered in LIUNA's December 21 complaint, which was filed in an effort to take over the local because of widespread corruption.
LIUNA said it agreed to banish Scopo Jr. from Local 6A and all of its affiliates in 1987 after a federal RICO complaint alleged he was extorting contractors, embezzling money and using violence to exert control over union members, according to internal filings. He no longer has an official post at Local 6A, but his son is the business manager.
"I'm in charge of Local 6 and control everything that happens in that Local," Scopo Jr. reportedly told alleged Colombo crime family captain Dina Calabro, according to LIUNA's investigation.
According to the investigation, Scopo Jr. met with Calabro, the alleged Colombo captain, at a Long Island bagel store in 2004, and doled out $10,000 as his monthly payment for shaking down LaQuilla concrete. Calabro allegedly kept $1,000 for himself, Scopo Jr. kept another $1500 and the rest went to the Colombo family administration, the investigation claims.
After LIUNA's investigation gained momentum in 2008, the organization said, union members crafted a policy that would allow officers to make quick money by cashing out unused vacation time. For a three-month period that year, Scopo Jr.'s son, Ralph, cashed out more than $10,000 in vacation time, according to the complaint.
According to an annual report filed with the federal Department of Labor in 2009, he was making an annual salary of $164,000. LIUNA said he is currently employed by Local 6A.
LIUNA's Special Counsel, in its request to take over the union, said Local 6A is "being controlled by the Colombo family" and "serves La Cosa Nostra members, associates and the destructive purposes of organized crime."