Construction Laborers Union Leaders Linked to Gambling

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 prominently.

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 subsequently convicted.

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 as vice-president.

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.

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