January 6, 1997
United States Justice Department
Organized Crime and Racketeering Division
Main Justice Building
10th St. and Constitution Ave. NW.
Washington, D.C. 20530
ATT: U.S. Trial Attorney Kenneth Laurie
Re: Laborers International Union of North America-Consent Decree
As you already know my father was a member of the Cosa Nostra and as a result of his status in this crime family I became the recipient of a business agents position at Laborers Local 210 in Buffalo, New York in 1970. This appointment was not the result of any labor relations acumen on my part but a gesture by the then Local unions secretary treasurer acknowledging my father and his then position as boss of the family.
In 1973 as the result of a fracture in the hierarchy of the Buffalo Cosa Nostra, I was elected to the position of Business Manager on the promise that I would allow the membership the right to run their local union. After being in office for only two weeks, I was summoned to a Cosa Nostra sit-down and told that all decisions would be made by the mob, not the union membership. I was quite cognizant of the LCN's methods of enforcing directives and that even my father could not amend the tragic consequences that the non-connected members would be inundated with.
With limited resources available and ruling out any dangerous confrontation I decided on a course of aiding the FBI in its endeavor to expose and prosecute LCN members, associates and criminal cohorts. From the period 1973 thru 1989, my more than 3000 reports made by various FBI agents contained incessant examples of illegal and amoral activity by mob members and LIUNA officials from California to New England. This activity was not occasional but purposely designed to afford the mob total dominance of the International from its choke points in Chicago, and New York City. Other LCN families such as those established in Cleveland, Buffalo, Providence, etc., aided in and benefited from this control and rape of the union and its membership.
After my FBI cooperation became public in 1989, I have openly talked and testified about this cancer that had infested some of are largest labor unions and deviously manipulated and infected many others. When the agreement to allow the Laborers Union the right to conduct its own self cleansing was announced I was quite disturbed and perplexed by the arrangement. After reviewing the agreement I remained concerned but the appointment of Doug Gow as the LIUNA Inspector General and the affording of unlimited financial resources to his newly created office seemed quite promising.
Besides the Douglas Gow hiring the main reason I felt that this novel procedure would prove to be a success lay in the ability to add fiduciary violations as a means of ejecting LCN members and associates from the International Union and its regional offices, district councils and local unions.
Without the fiduciary violations motivation I knew that the accomplishment threshold would be beyond reach and that only limited success would be obtainable. Without subpoena power, access to current on going Federal and State investigations, the information stream would be limited to already used sources of information. This course of gathering information is fine but obviously limited and laden with danger.
The main liability lay in having government sources that were utilized in the Government's charge turn that information directly over to the very targets of that complaint. This would subject a potential government witness to the targeted objective of the investigation and having that witness explain and point out all the pertinent information that the government was going to present is a court of law. This impairment cannot be lightly dismissed especially when some of those members and associates of the Cosa Nostra named in the complaint may be the target of a Grand Jury or another related investigation.
Safeguards must be installed that provide that under no circumstances will the Inspector General, his investigative body, the Attorney's assigned to bring charges or anyone else involved with due process being placed in the unwanted position of having to in any form answer to anyone under investigation. The inspecting team must avoid any and all contact with those named in the complaint who are potential targets of that complaint except during the pursuit of justice. This would mean that all funding of the Inspector Generals Office and the Attorneys presenting the evidence would be pre established and not tied in any way to the leadership of the International Union. Additional regulations would have to be implemented to prevent those that provided information to the Justice Department from having to expose themselves to potential adversaries if the Department of Justice decides to impose a trusteeship.
There is no question that the public has benefited from this agreement because it has saved millions of tax payers dollars in court battle costs that would have surely taken place and there is also no question that under the agreement the Justice Department has the right to impose Federal trusteeship at any time it feels obligated. On the other hand however have those financial savings compromised or harmed the original complaint and provided those named with a water shed of information that could aid in developing a defense if criminal charges were ever brought relating to the matter at hand or another.
Some proponents of the agreement may say that the General Executive board attorney and the Inspector General have had substantial success against organized crime, its controlled locals and International officials. They point out the removal of Sam Caivano and John Serpico. The dislodging of local 210 officers and agents are also pointed out with the successful takeover of Local 8 in Chicago, Illinois. These champions detail the successes in New York City with the Mason Tenders District Council or the membership removal of the Matthew Trupiano's that infest the local unions.
Those critics say that the deal's made with John Serpico, Sam Caivano and the Officers of Local 210 were nothing more than a buy out and that they were the sacrificial lamb that became necessary. Laborers Local 8 in Chicago was already insolvent and that made the takeover automatic. Those LCN members and associates that were expelled from the LIUNA ranks such as Matthew Trupiano were previously convicted and by law disbarred from holding any official position in any labor organization. The Mason Tenders district council in New York City had been under Federal Trusteeship and all this fanfare is nothing more stealing ones thunder.
You may even hear a LIUNA analyst question why the only members being expelled from the LIUNA ranks in New England, New York City or New Jersey are those that have been already convicted of a felony. The complaint points out district council, International union and local union officers and agents that operate out of these regions who have had ties to the LCN. Why haven't any charges been filed against them and even if they were? it just may be to late! Was an (if any) investigation of them purely an exercise in avoiding criticism and has the threshold level for bringing charges placed higher then what it is for others. You can have the most aggressive competent investigators but if the standard for filing charges is placed out of reach, all investigative efforts are for naught.
For the past 18 months I have been employed by the LIUNA Inspector General's office and during that period of time I have provided numerous information relating to corrupt union practices that have and continue to take place. This nefarious and criminal activity runs the gamut from, illegal dumping of hazardous waste, alter-ego employers, PAC fund violations, criminal and unethical misuse of collective bargaining agreements, licentious personal financial gain because of ones elected position, Insurance fraud schemes, Training fund fraud, Pension fraud, etc., I could on and on. I must emphasize that this activity is not limited to Buffalo, New York and is quite universal.
I cannot say that one investigator hired by the Inspector General has ever been remiss is his pursuit of justice. I do however point out what I have previously stated about the necessary level for charges filing and add to that the general lack of understanding of applicable Labor and Environmental laws.
In one case that comes to mind I pointed out numerous labor and fiduciary violations by a union official to the assigned investigator, He responded by saying that he sees nothing wrong with that type of activity and that he views that as business as usual. This is quite common and many investigators continue to rely on informants alone and with the current financial restraints that they have been placed under, have but little choice. This coupled with the Laborers International union general council having to view and sign off on all financial requests by the Inspector General's office a strategy for defeat. How can one investigate oneself without attempting to clear oneself.
Clearly the Official Laborers International Union response to my testimony before the House of Representatives subcommittee on Crime is a perfect example of this. In an effort to paint himself as the person behind the mob cleanup and at the same time protect himself from those that have placed him in the midst of LCN activity, Arthur A. Coia saw fit to attempt to discredit me. I wonder how many thousands of dollars was spent in an attempt to sway sentiment and paint me as a witness to an invasion by Martians and not to what I reported about the LCN and all those that I witnessed under its umbrella.
I have no problem with the Coia affront, I do however question that LIUNA funds were utilized by the very people that acknowledged mob control and up until December 27, 1996 paid my wages. You cannot have it both ways, If we are to believe what Arthur Coia states about his O'Hare airport meeting with John Serpico and the late Chicago crime fame Capo Vince Solano, then why did Coia provide Serpico new responsibilities after this meeting took place. If Coia were truly interested in cleansing the LCN and its control of the International ands its sub-structure then as the President of the International Union he has an obligation to the membership to come clean and tell all. I for one will forgive him, but I cannot forgive this game of purging out some LCN activity in LIUNA and hoping that time will play a favorable hand and save those others who that are close friends or related.
If the Justice Department allows this self cleansing to continue then it must recognize that the agreement time restraints need to be extended. Much more needs to be done to insure the rights of the membership and that the statements about success are not the words of those in the know but the echo of the public relations effort that has cost more than a million dollars of membership money.
I must also point out that statements of mine (FBI-302's) have been faxed to reporters. This disturbs me greatly but what confuses me even more is the fact that information that could easily lead to the discovery of my new identity and location have also ended up in the hands of one or more reporters. I have gone to great lengths to avoid compromise and this leak is quite unnerving.
When I first learned of it I tried to downplay its importance based primarily on the fact that the leak was to reporters who in all likelihood are probably not linked to anyone that would like to have me disappear. But the more I thought about it the more I began to wonder just how far the revelation had traveled. Were the reporter(s) a singular incident or have others (especially current LIUNA officials) also become privy to my location? Can I in good conscience afford to place my wife and her child in harms way! This disclosure has placed me in a quandary with my wanting to protect my family on one hand and (21 words removed because they may lead to my discovery) On December 27, 1996 I sent Doug Gow a letter informing him of my predicament and with it my resignation from performing future services. I unfortunately do not have any financial savings to fall back on nor for that matter even needed employment.
Ronald M. Fino