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LIUNA Seeks Trusteeship Over Local Operated By Reputed Chicago Mob Boss

 

 

By Michael Bologna

Wednesday, May 5, 1999

 

CHICAGO--The Laborers International Union of North America is seeking a trusteeship over a Chicago local representing 1,200 laborers involved in sewer and tunnel work.

 

Dwight Bostwick, an attorney in LIUNA 's Office of the General Executive Board Attorney, told BNA May 3 his office is seeking a trusteeship over Local 2. A notice describing the trusteeship charges was delivered to Local 2 officers and members on April 23.

 

The complaint filed by the GEB attorney argues a trusteeship is necessary to rid Local 2 of its long and close relations with organized crime. The complaint also points to financial malpractices and a lack of democratic principles as grounds for a trusteeship.

 

"Since at least 1985, Local 2 has been corrupted by the influence of organized crime," the complaint states. "The influence of organized crime has been perpetuated through the longstanding abuse of democratic process and has resulted in ongoing financial malpractice and in Local 2's inability to carry out legitimate, constitutional objectives of a LIUNA affiliate such as independently fulfilling its obligation to address allegations of mob control."

 

The complaint alleges that organized crime figures direct Local 2 largely through the local's president and business manager John Matassa. The complaint also suggests mob affiliations involving Local 2's vice president Dominick DiMaggio and its recording secretary Vincent DiVarco.

 

The complaint said Matassa has admitted under oath to a pattern of close associations with Chicago mobsters for more than 25 years.

 

Independent Hearing Officer Peter Vaira will consider the complaint and rule on whether the local should be placed in trusteeship. Vaira was appointed to that post under the 1995 agreement between LIUNA and the U.S. Justice Department in which the union has agreed to root out corrupt practices through internal reforms.

 

Pending Complaint Against Matassa

 

Bostwick noted that the GEB attorney had earlier filed disciplinary charges against Matassa and a hearing on the issue has been held. He said a ruling on the charges against Matassa is expected from Vaira shortly. Even if the disciplinary process removes Matassa from the union, the complaint suggests Local 2 would still be a tool of the organized crime.

 

"Even Matassa's possible expulsion from LIUNA would not be sufficient assurance that the regime Matassa himself has put into place will be free from the influence of organized crime," the complaint states.

 

Bostwick said the Office of the GEB Attorney attempted to negotiate a supervisory agreement with the executive board of Local 2. While a supervisory relationship would have avoided certain litigation costs and allowed local leaders to maintain some degree of control, Bostwick said the executive board of the local voted to oppose such an agreement.

 

Chicago attorney James Montgomery, who is representing Local 2 on the trusteeship issue, did not respond to BNA request for comment on the allegations.


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