The Buffalo News


MICHAEL BEEBE; News Staff Reporter

December 8, 1999

The Laborers International Union has dropped out of a racketeering lawsuit it brought with government prosecutors against Laborers Local 210 after a federal judge questioned whether the parent union could sue the local it has run for nearly four years under a trusteeship.

Federal prosecutors will continue the suit on their own, however, and hope U.S. District Judge Richard J. Arcara will approve a settlement and appoint a court liaison officer for the next five years to continue efforts to end organized crime's control over Local 210.

Attorneys for dissident members of Local 210 said they will continue their effort to have the trusteeship ended and the union returned to local control.

They said their efforts are especially needed after the trustee running Local 210, Steven Hammond, was elected Monday as one of 13 international vice presidents.

As a board member, Hammond will vote on policy for the 800,000 member union and all its locals.

Hammond's appointment was announced at the same time that Arthur Coia, the president of the international union who has been accused of mob ties himself, announced his retirement as of Jan. 1. Coia was cleared of mob allegations by the union earlier this year but was fined $ 100,000 after a hearing officer found him guilty of a conflict of interest.

The international union's withdrawal from the racketeering suit came in a letter to Arcara from John M. Curran, an attorney who serves as local counsel for the international union.

Curran said the international still feels it has earned the right to bring the suit, as a result of a cleanup that saw more than two dozen alleged mobsters bounced from Local 210, but agreed to withdraw in order to move the case forward.

U.S. Attorney Denise E. O'Donnell said the government and the international reached the decision together after Arcara questioned the partnership in two days of hearings last week. She said it will have no effect on the government's intention to have the suit settled and a court liaison officer appointed.

Copyright 1999 The Buffalo News

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