By Les Coleman
with Robert Pedemonti

Spoonwood Press
LTD Hartford, CT.

copyright 1982

In Hartford, Dominick Lopreato stands in the doorway of Charlie Tolisano's South End gambling club at 692 Maple Avenue, sipping a Coke. Tolisano and his partner, Joseph "Joe Carp" Carpino have been operating their gambling and bookmaking operation out of the long, white, one-story building and the phone booth across the street from it since 1978. Earlier. they ran their operations out of the "Greek Club" on Capitol Avenue, just around the corner from the federal building. Lopreato is boss of Local #230 of the Laborers International Union of North America, the union that represents 10,000 construction workers around the state. Lopreato counts among his friends, Bill Grasso, the latest mobster to be initiated into the inner circle of the Raymond Patriarca crime family. He also has been seen with Grasso's associate, Louie Failla, who is under indictment for attempting to bribe East Hartford Police Chief, Clarence Drumm. Lopreato controls the most powerful construction local in Connecticut, and according to federal documents, the union is closely linked to organized crime figures in New England and other regions of the country.

Federal Strike Force reports describe the union as "being the subject of organized crime control." International President Angelo Fosco, of Chicago, succeeded to the office after the death of his father, Peter Fosco. The elder Fosco's ties to organized crime go back to Al Capone and the younger Fosco has followed in his father's footsteps. Fosco comes under the influence of Vincent Solano, a member of the Anthony Accardo crime family. Solano is also a local LIU president.

The union's strangle-hold on construction projects became obvious in Connecticut in April. 1981. 10,000 LIU members walked off their jobs on publicly financed road and sewer projects in the state. including the widening of Interstate 86 through Vernon and northern Manchester. The walkout won the union a forty percent wage increase over a three-year period. The new skyscrapers and hotels built in downtown Hartford in the last 10 years were also done by LIU labor. And anyone wanting to build anythinp within

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their area of influence will have to deal with Lopreato and his associates.

Lopreato has the rough good looks of an ex-prizefighter, enjoys expensive suits and a dark blue Cadillac leased from Viking Cadillac in Newport, Rhode Island, the same automobile company that Rhode Island police say provides cars to members of the Raymond Patriarca crime family. Besides his frequent visits to the gambling clubs along Franklin Avenue, Lopreato has been seen dining with known organized crime figures in downtown Hartford. He is obviously a man who possesses a lot of power and has a number of friends.

Lopreato's LIU local in Hartford not only controls highway and building construction contracts in Connecticut, it also decides who works on a job and in some cases who gets on a construction project payroll and who does not. Over the last decade the Department of Labor has documented hundreds of cases where people have been placed on the union payroll but have never appeared on the job site. Many of them have been individuals with known organized crime backgrounds. The Hartford LIU Local #230 is apparently no exception.

For example, there was the union's involvement in building the University of Connecticut Health Center in Farmington. Back in 1967. developers from U-Conn had thought they could build a medical complex in Storrs for as little as $10 million. Politics and escalating construction costs boosted those projections to $52 million; and by the time the complex was finished in 1972. raw construction costs had soared to $67 million. Engineering fees cost taxpayers another $33 million. The health center that U-Conn thinkers dreamed of in $10 million terms became a $100 million reality.

RICHIE: My friend. Butch Rufino. was the foreman on the job. He was the guy I would collect the numbers bets from for Danny. Every guy on that job had to play at least a buck on a number every day of the week. Most guys played more. Butch had his kid working on the job. His nephew was the timekeeper. Guys would make seven, eight bucks an hour and kick-back two! If you needed anything for your house you could get it from the job site. Tony Volpe was doing his cottage in New Hartford over so he would go up to the health center and order all the pipe he needed.

The tile they were using out there ended up in a lot of guys' bathrooms. The hanging ceiling in my rec-room

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came from the U-Conn Health Center. I know guys who were stealing $2,OOO worth of copper tubing a week off that job. You know those big exhaust fans? The guys were stealing a dozen of them a week. I know one guy who had one in every room in his house down at Old Saybrook. Nobody ever said a word. Hell. the guards on the site were in on it too.

Wholesale pilferage was just a small portion of the union graft at U-Conn's Health Center. One scheme concocted by construction workers cost the contractor untold thousands of dollars in fraudulent overtime.

RICHIE: The guys would make up three-man teams. One guy would go on the eight-to-four shift another was scheduled for the four-to-twelve shift. and the third guy was supposed to come on the midnight-to-eight a.m. shift. How it worked. was one guy would just stay and work the other two guys' shifts and punch their cards It was easy work at night anyway. All you had to do was watch the heaters they used to keep the fresh cement from freezing before it dried. So. every other week each guy would only work two or three days and everybody would get paid for a full week. Plus, Saturdays were double time and Sundays were double-time-and-a-half At the end of the pay period the guys would have to kick back a little to the job foreman.

New Haven FBI files disclose that in May, 1978. Ronnie La Conche, a known East Hartford bookmaker was given a "no show" job by the LIU and was paid $350 a week. La Conche. a regular at Vinnie Fraggino's club on Franklin Avenue was bragging about his "position" during a poker game in the summer of 1978. But handing out "no show" jobs to bookmakers is a small matter compared to other activities of the LIU that are now under investigation by the Justice Department in five states.

Dominick Lopreato reports to LIU vice president. Arthur Coia of Providence, Rhode Island. a top national union leader with close ties to organized crime. Coia appeared as an unindicted co-conspirator in an indictment returned in late 1981 in the Southern District Court in Florida. The racketeering charges emerged after a three-year investigation into an effort to funnel LIU insurance funds into a fraudulent company set up by organized crime figures.

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The elaborate scheme involved FBI informant Joseph Hauser, a California con man who agreed to buy Farmer's National Insurance Company of Florida and to pay illegal kickbacks to Coia; LIU president Paul Fosco; Florida organized crime boss Santo Trafficante; Chicago crime boss Anthony Accardo and others from money in the LIU trust fund.

The federal indictment details how Hauser met with the group in San Francisco, in 1973. where Hauser was urged to buy the company in which all the parties involved would be partners. The company would, in turn, take over all the business for the union. Trafficante told the men at the meeting they could take over Farmer's National because, "we control the Insurance Commissioner in Florida."

Early the following year, Hauser met again with several union leaders and Trafficante. The meeting, bugged by FBI wiretaps, recorded Trafficante telling Hauser, "when you get the company, then the family and the LIU hierarchy were going to be partners." At another meeting in 1975, Chicago syndicate boss Tony Accardo explained to Hauser that Trafficante would control the southern United States. Accardo the midwest, and the northeast would go to Raymond Patriarca. Toward the end of the conversation, Accardo explained to Hauser. "when we get this company. Santo will have to get a bigger share 'cause he's not pleased with his current take." Hauser was apparently able to meet with the union and syndicate leaders because he, at the time, had the blessing of the man who has been labeled by the FBI as the nation's number one crime boss, Carlos Marcello of New Orleans.

Marcello, known as the "Little Man," exerts his national power from his Town and Country Motel in Jefferson Parish, Louisiana. Twice in the last thirty years federal authorities have tried to deport the convicted mobster, twice Marcello has managed to return and stay out of jail.

New Orleans Metropolitan Crime Commission Director Aaron Kohn has been a Marcello watcher for twenty-five years. His files on Marcello occupy an entire room.

KOHN: Joseph Hauser met Marcello through a Washington lobbyist. Irving Davidson. Davidson represented a number of labor interests in Washington and he is a long-time friend of Marcello's. Back in the early seventies Hauser obtained a loan from the Teamsters to buy the National American Life Insurance Company of Baton Rouge. The company was once owned by another Marcello associate, Louis J. Roussel a self-made financier of

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Cajun descent. Hauser needed another $200,000 to close the deal and Davidson introduced him to Marcello. Marcello lent Hauser the needed funding and the loan was processed through a bank in New Orleans. The takeover and the ensuing investigation of kickbacks came to be known as "Bri-Lab," leading to a racketeering conviction for Marcello and a job as a federal informer for Joseph Hauser. Irving Davidson also was convicted, and if his sentence is not overturned on appeal, will be doing his lobbying in the corridors of a federal penitentiary.

Marcello received consecutive ten year prison terms in April 1982 for his role in "Bri-Lab" and another seven-year term for attempting to bribe a California federal judge.

Former U.S. Attorney General in the Nixon Administration, Richard Kleindienst, was suspended from practicing law in Arizona for a year on April 23, 1982 for lying under oath about his role in the scandal. The State Bar Association was investigating his role in connection with the siphoning off of about $7 million from the Teamsters Union Health and Welfare Fund in 1976. Kleindienst's client was Joseph Hauser. The Arizona Supreme Court found "clear and convincing evidence" of two allegations that Kleindienst gave untruthful testimony concerning conversations with his client's agents about a State Department of Insurance order. Kleindienst told newspeople that if he was suspended he would "look for work."

This illustrates the natural power of the LIU and its link with the ruling council of organized crime in America. That power, and its link, touches every city in New England, whenever a road, an office building or an apartment house is constructed in any corner of the state.

Labor corruption directly drives up the cost of construction. Other corrupt actions may reduce the costs for builders, but at the expense of workers whose pension funds are cheated, and minority groups whose efforts to get jobs are undermined.

Massachusetts Mutual Life Insurance Company of Springfield, Massachusetts, had a horror-ridden experience when it tried to renovate the Chrysler Building in New York.

The monument of art deco architecture towering over Lexington Avenue had taken on a shabby air in the late seventies. so Mass Mutual, the building's owner, decided to give it a $31 million facelift. But, as company senior vice-president Edward J. Kulik found, there were a lot of hidden costs the company had not bargained for.

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KULIK: We ran into more than we expected. Building supplies disappeared from the site. Wiring was installed in the daytime and vanished after dark. There was an awful lot of padding on overtime, double-billing by suppliers and absentee workers. Construction workers carried off cartloads of scrap metal from the interior of the building.

The practice of keeping scrap metal is known as "mungo" in the trade and is widely viewed by demolition workers as a perquisite of the job. At the Chrysler Building the scrap metal being hauled off included valuable art deco fixtures, such as copper pipes and radiators installed in 1930. fixtures the developers wanted to keep.

One technique often used by racketeers is to establish a labor consultant firm as a conduit for payoffs. The employer hires the consultant to handle labor problems and pays a fixed amount. The consultant uses the money. after deducting his fee, to pay off union officials or others to allow a job to proceed uninterrupted. Payoffs are also made to arrange what is known as "coverage" on a job site. Union bosses are paid to look the other way while the employer hires workers at less than union scale or without union benefits.

To penetrate the world of kickback consultants in the Northeast, the FBI established its own consulting business. Showing its dry sense of humor, the Bureau named their company James Rico Construction Consultants. Rico is an acronym for the Federal Racketeering Influence and Corrupt Organizations Act, one of the most powerful federal laws against organized crime.

A burly FBI agent, James Abbott, using the name Jimmy O'Brien, posed as one of the labor consultants for the firm. Abbott was able to gain access to the inner circle of construction industry corruption, leading to indictments of several major labor figures including the president of the district Council of Carpenters in New York. Abbot later testified how factions of organized crime had fought over the spoils of a construction job. The dispute had to be resolved by a "sit down" between two major crime leaders, Tony "Ducks" Corallo, the head of the Luchese crime family and Frank Tieri of the Genovese family.

The Genovese family agreed to "honor" the agreement that the Luchese family had made to "cover" the job for $50,000. Abbott, in his labor consultant role, agreed to make the $50,000 in payoffs to the Luchese family.

Another union implicated in Justice Department files is the

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Operating Engineers, the union that represents heavy machine operators on construction job sites.

In Connecticut, the Operating Engineers is headed by Elwood "Sonny" Metz, Jr., business agent for Local #478. It was Metz's workers who operated the bulldozers that demolished the Hartford Civic Center after the roof collapsed in 1978. The demolition contract went to Manafort Brothers Contractors, a New Britain firm tied closely to Paul Manafort, the town's former Mayor and former State Public Works Commissioner. For minority purposes, another co-contractor was listed, "Sonny" Fredericks, a Hartford ex-con. Manafort and Metz were mentioned in the Bridgeport jai alai scandal in 1975.

Even a tragedy like the collapse of the roof at the Hartford Civic Center became a bonanza for mobster profiteers.

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