Buffalo News


DAN HERBECK - News Staff Reporter

February 22, 1996

A former New York City underworld boss, an informer who helped police recover a stolen Rembrandt masterpiece and a man who participated in an Amherst murder plot had been expected to testify over the next few days about mob control of Laborers Local 210.

Along with former labor leader Ronald M. Fino, they were ready to reveal dark and dirty secrets about the Buffalo local and the Laborers International Union of North America.

But before the first witness took the stand, the local and the international abruptly decided Wednesday to postpone the hearing and hold settlement discussions.

Sources close to the proceedings said neither side was anxious to air the union's secrets.

If a settlement is reached, sources said, the present leaders of Local 210 probably would be replaced by a trustee.

"We decided to adjourn and to take some time to talk about reaching a settlement," said Paul J. Cambria Jr., an attorney for Local 210. "I think something can be worked out that would be agreeable to people on all sides."

"I think the signs are good for a settlement to be reached," agreed Bert Rohrer, spokesman for the international. "But if a settlement cannot be reached, the hearing will go ahead."

The hearing -- criticized by angry Local 210 members as a "kangaroo court" -- was supposed to begin Wednesday morning in the Marygold Manor in Cheektowaga.

Fino, a former Local 210 business manager was in Buffalo and was scheduled to appear as the first witness. Fino, who left Buffalo in 1989 to become a paid FBI witness and lecturer on mob racketeering throughout the country, was considered perhaps the most important witness in the hearing.

More than 100 demonstrators from the local had bitter words for Fino as they stood outside the Marygold facility.

"Ronnie Fino is a paid liar for the FBI. He sold this local down the river," charged Robert LoTempio, one of the Local 210 demonstrators.

The international lawyers said they will prove that for years, Local 210 has been controlled by the Buffalo Mafia family. Local 210's leaders planned to counter with allegations that Arthur A. Coia, president of the international, also is under mob control.

Sources close to the hearing disclosed that the witnesses who were scheduled to follow Fino included:

Alphonso "Little Al" D'Arco, a former boss of New York City's powerful Luchese crime family. D'Arco -- who admitted in 1992 to drug dealing, mob killings and labor racketeering -- was going to give his testimony through a written statement.

D'Arco was described by authorities as one of the highest-ranking mob leaders ever to turn government informer.

Charles "Chuckie" Carlo, a former Buffalo underworld figure who left town 20 years ago to join the Federal Witness Protection Program. Carlo assisted the FBI in setting up a 1977 stolen property sting operation on Elmwood Avenue. Also that year, he helped agents recover "The Rabbi," a stolen Rembrandt painting worth $250,000.

William "Cookie" Giglia, a drug dealer who was linked to the ambush murder of Robert "Big Bob" DiGiulio, a former bodyguard for celebrities who was killed in 1985 outside his Amherst home. Witnesses said Giglia was involved in planning and transportation for the slaying. DiGiulio's wife, Anita Marvin DiGiulio, and hit man Luciano "Dilly" Spataro were convicted in the case.

Two retired FBI agents, plus at least two contractors who have had dealings with Local 210.

Cambria said he was not impressed with any of the people on the international's witness list.

"These are all people with huge axes to grind against Local 210. They're not credible at all," Cambria said.

Cambria and Local 210 officials also were angry that Coia, leader of the 750,000-member international, refused to testify.

"I know for a fact, based on some FBI reports we have, that Ron Fino has made statements that Coia is mobbed-up, controlled by the mob in Boston. We want to be able to put Coia on the stand, so he can testify that Fino is a liar," Cambria said. "But Coia refuses to testify, and the judge has told us he won't compel Coia to testify."

Leaders of Local 210 said before the hearing that winning a favorable decision from Administrative Judge Peter Vaira appeared almost impossible.

"They've already said we're a mob local. Now they're holding a hearing to determine if we're a mob local," said Peter Capitano, business manager of Local 210.

On orders from Vaira, the public and news media were to have been barred from the proceedings, which were expected to last seven to 10 days. Only union members and people directly involved with the hearing were to have been allowed in.

"If the international has nothing to hide, why keep the media out?" Capitano said.

Officials of the international said they had nothing to do with the closing of the hearing. Robert Luskin, an attorney for the international, said he unsuccessfully argued that the hearing should have been open.

Vaira is an independent hearing officer, not controlled by Coia or the international, Luskin added.


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