By Ted Dempsey
May 28, 1969
Elements of organized crime have infiltrated
the Hartford based Local 230, Construction and General Laborers
Union. The Hartford Times has learned. Several of the union's officers have been
convicted for bookmaking (accepting bets) and the union strongman
has been linked in federal court testimony to La Cosa Nostra,
the Mafia. More attention has been given in recent weeks
to the Operating Engineers, the union that runs cranes an other
power equipment. Their business agent, Elwood L. (Sonny ) Metz
Jr., publicly asked his membership's support in ousting gang infiltrators.
But intensive investigation by The Times
shows the Laborers Union - the men who once carried bricks on
hods, but now do a variety of relatively unskilled construction
jobs-also have a problem
THE CONVICTED bookies who are listed include:
The secretary-treasurer of the union, Michael
R. Belasano of Manchester, considered the head of the union, has
been linked to the Raymond Patriarca, now imprisoned and reputed
head of the New England Mafia.
IT WAS testimony in U.S. District Court in
Providence, R.I., that sparked The Times' probe of the Laborers
Union. In that testimony, FBI agents described a
"wiretap" on Patriarca's telephone Feb. 17, 1965. Although none of the principals in the tapped
conversation were identified for the record, Mike Belasano, then
union representative of the Laborers Union in Hartford, figured
The federal report stated that Belasano "apparently
only hires members with criminal records."
One of the men in the overheard conversation,
according to the FBI, was a contractor who said the union hiring
hall was not sending men to his Connecticut construction site
and that he was "suffering because of this, laborwise."
Patriarca, according to the FBI report, said
he would "assist him is this regard."
MICHAEL BELASANO has been with the Laborers
Union for nearly 20 years an now controls the operation. In 1959,
when the U.S. Department of Labor first began checking into the
status of unions nationally, Belasano, then the business agent,
reported drawing a salary of $10,070. His salary in the last decade has more than
doubled to about $22,000 according to reports.
An ex-prize fighter, Belasano is known to
associate with many persons on the fringes or involved in organized
crime in Connecticut and Massachusetts. He is also president of the Connecticut District
Laborers Council, a health and welfare fund for the union, which
pays him about $600 annually.
In recent years, Mike Belasano has spent
little time at the union hall and is usually contacted by telephone
for major decisions. He reportedly spends his summers at the Connecticut
shore and is seen nightly in a number of expensive restaurants
in and near Old Saybrook.
HIS BROTHER, Tommy, who quit school in the
eighth grade, is overseeing the state operation. He draws more
than $12,000 a year from the union funds. He has four convictions for poolselling and
policy operations between 1959 and 1961 but never actually served
a jail term.
In his last arrest in 1961, Hartford vice
squad detectives answered the telephone at his home 22 times in
a 40-minute period with persons wishing to place bets. Police
also reported more than 500 toll calls in a two month period to
Boston, Massachusetts. At this time, records indicate that Tommy
was a union member serving as a delegate.
He was employed as a shop steward during
the construction o Constitution Plaza, earning $240 a week. It
was during this time that Tommy was caught with his hard hat off.
In it, police found evidence of a numbers operation and he was
LECONCHE, who is close to the union leadership,
has at least four arrests for bookmaking and at least two convictions.
He is listed as a general foreman with a
major construction firm in the Hartford City Directory. However,
the firm said he no longer employed there.
He was organizer of a testimonial dinner
for Michael Belesano in November 19 67, attended by more than
600 persons at the Hartford Hilton. A number of persons involved
in organized crime reportedly attended. The tickets sold for $12 per person and contractors
were asked to purchase them in lots of 10 tickets. The speaker
was Congressman Emilo Q. Daddario. There was numerous tributes to Belesano at
the Bagdad Restaurant in Farmington. Tickets, which numbered more
than 500, reportedly sold $10 a person. Following the dinner,
LeConche was arrested for allegedly shooting the entertainer.
It was listed as "horse play" in newspapers accounts
at the time. LeConche draws a small salary while serving
DELGAIZO, the sergeant-at-arms has a 20-year
association with the union. During the time, he has had five arrests
for bookmaking in the Hartford area. His last arrest was last
year at his home in West Hartford. He is known to have operated a restaurant
on Franklin Avenue and has also held down construction jobs that
he reports are paying him more than $300 a week. He is also a
shop steward, according to his reports.
The union has repeatedly declined to discuss
aspects involving it personnel.