Engineering News-Record

SECTION: MANAGEMENT AND LABOR

Concrete Firms Tell Tales Of Payoffs

By Debra K. Rubin

January 2, 1986

While reputed Mafia kingpin Paul Castellano was being rubbed out in a Manhattan shootout last month, testimony of New York City concrete contractors revealed that the mob's influence in city construction is still very much alive.

The contractors appeared at the federal racketeering trial of another alleged organized-crime chieftain, Carmine Persico, and other reputed leaders of the Colombo crime family.

The contractors told the court about payoffs to Ralph Scopo, former president of the Concrete Workers District Council of the laborers union, who allegedly channeled the funds to the Colombo family.

While Scopo was originally included among the defendants, his trial has been separated because of his health problems.

Tapes made secretly by the Federal Bureau of Investigation described conversations in which Scopo demanded payoffs from the contractors in exchange for labor peace and uninterrupted concrete deliveries.

Both private and public jobs were involved -- ranging from a $130,000 church parish building to the $80-million Delta Airlines terminal at LaGuardia Airport.

All of the contractors, who were indicted for making payoffs to a union official, were granted immunity by federal prosecutors in exchange for their testimony.

Slowdowns.

Carlo D'Arpino, secretary of Cedric Construction Corp., New Hyde Park, testified that he paid Scopo close to $16,000 on various jobs in 1983 and 1984. "If I needed manpower, maybe he wouldn't give it to me," said D-Arpino. "Or he could slow down [concrete] deliveries somewhat."

D'Arpino said Scopo usually asked for 1% of each contract. "Normally, he would know before I got the job that I was getting the job," he said.

According to a tape played in the courtroom, Scopo and D'Arpino disputed the value of one job, and Scopo threatened to "get the Dodge report on it," to verify its size.

D'Arpino testified that on one $1-million foundation job for the city, Scopo arranged for the payoffs to be made in weekly paychecks to two no-show union members. The checks, he added, were sent to the district council office, "attention of Ralph Scopo."

Mineo D'Ambrosi, general supervisor of Queens-based All-Boro Paving Co. testified that he paid Scopo $11,000 on a 1982 foundation job at Kennedy International Airport in order to use his own workers. When D'Ambrosi asked why he should pay, Scopo responded, "Well, everybody else does."

"The Club."

D'Ambrosi also testified that he could not bid jobs over $2 million, because they were reputedly reserved for concrete firms that belonged to "The Club."

Such contracts were allegedly controlled by "The Commission" -- the ruling council of New York's five key organized crime families.

Commission members were indicted for bidrigging and extortion last February (ENR 3/7/85 p. 65). They are scheduled for trial next spring. Scopo is one of the defendants in that case as well.

Another contractor, David Assalti, president of Daval Construction, testified that he eventually decided to "downsize" his firm and move out of New York City because he saw the direction [the industry] was going."

Assalti said he objected to Scopo's "power over a contract" that came "from his friends on the street."

Even so, Scopo contacted him in 1983 on a $130,000 job for a church in Queens. Without a $2,000 payoff, Assalti said, he "would have problems doing work in the city."

Yet another contractor, Anthony Rivara, president of Brooklyn-based Pile Foundations, told jurors about payoffs on "the biggest pile job ever done in the City of New York" -- the Delta Airlines Terminal at LaGuardia Airport in 1981.

The job was initially valued at $1.5 million, said Rivara, but eventually reached $8 million.

Rivara testified that, after signing a letter of intent to do the job he was visited on site by the project's general contractor, Victor Wortman. "He walked up to me in the mud, with a three-piece suit on," said Rivara telling him "to deal with Ralph Scopo."

According to Rivara, the union official sought to ensure that he got his $15,000 for the project. "He was telling me that if I didn't pay him, I had to go with him to a restaurant in Little Italy and maybe sit down with three or four guys with big necks."

 

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