Sunday, March 18, 2001
The RICO Act gives crime-busters tools for purging the pits of vipers created when Big Labor and organized crime intertwine. But the anti-racketeering law did no good when the alliances extended into the White House.
Hence, a supervisor will probe alleged ties between the leadership of Local 1058 of the Construction, General Laborers and Material Handlers Union in Pittsburgh and the mob.
The parent Laborers International Union of North America had asked for a trusteeship, a greater level of control. Peter F. Viara, the union's "judge," ruled that unnecessary because there was no strong evidence of "recent" connections.
Mr. Viara was selected by LIUNA for the role that extends throughout the international long before President Arthur A. Coia, a friend of Bill and Hillary Clinton, resigned and pleaded guilty to tax fraud in the purchase of a Ferrari.
It was a better fate than Coia could have expected. In 1994, a draft of a RICO civil complaint alleged the union he headed was controlled by organized crime.
But a deal with the Justice Department in 1995 shielded the 800,000-member union from a takeover; it embarked on "internal reform." The union appointed Robert D. Luskin, who had represented Coia before Justice, as its prosecutorial officer.
As the National Legal and Policy Center opined: "It was as if Johnnie Cochran was allowed to take over Marsha Clark's job and prosecute O.J. Simpson in a quasi-judicial system funded and controlled by O.J. Simpson."
We see, corruption is not most vigorously rooted out - it is managed. That perversity should not escape the purview of the new Bush administration.