The Plain Dealer



October 13, 1995

The former head of one of Cleveland's largest construction unions yesterday was barred from union activities for five years and sentenced to four months of home detention.

Chester L. "Zip" Liberatore pleaded guilty in August to accepting a gratuity from a contractor whose workers are represented by his union, Local 310 of the Laborers International Union of North America. He admitted accepting labor and materials valued at $10,000 to $20,000 from a supervisor for Independence Excavating Inc. for an addition to his Solon home in 1990.

The suspension bars Liberatore, Local 310's business manager for the past three years, from holding a union office and from handling labor matters for an employer, including Industrial Construction Inc., the company where he landed a job last month.

Assistant U.S. Attorneys Allan B. Levenberg and Stephen G. Sozio argued for at least a five-year suspension, instead of the mandatory minimum of three years, saying the charge to which Liberatore pleaded guilty was not an isolated incident.

"The opportunity is there for corruption," Sozio said.

Sozio said Liberatore, 37, also had acknowledged he violated federal law in 1987 by having a contractor install a brick driveway at his home at no charge.

And in a plea agreement, Liberatore acknowledged that he accepted labor and materials for the construction of a storage shed, internal walls in his basement, four glass block windows, French doors and treated lumber for an extension to his deck.

In addition to the suspension and home detention, U.S. District Judge Solomon Oliver fined Liberatore $5,000 and placed him on probation for three years. He said Liberatore would be allowed to leave his home to go to work during the home detention period.

Liberatore apologized to his family and members of the local, which represents about 1,900 Cleveland-area workers.

"I loved my job. I loved my members," Liberatore told Oliver before he was sentenced. "But now that's all behind me and I have to start a new life."

He resigned in July before pleading guilty.


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