Security Tight As Trial of Union Aide Begins

By Thomas Mattia

Telegram Staff Reporter

Sept. 26, 1979

Under unusually heavy security, the labor racketeering trial of West Haven construction union official Albert Inorio began Tuesday in Bridgeport U.S. District Court. With six or more federal marshals inside the courtroom and in the hallway outside, bolstered by federal protective police, the 64-year-old Inorio faced his court trial before U.S. District Judge T.F. Gilroy Daly on charges he conspired with reputed New Haven mobster Salvatore Annunziato to embezzle $4,400 of his union's funds.

Inorio, an East Haven resident, had been indicted with Annunziato on April 26 by a federal grand jury in Hartford and charged with embezzling the funds from Local 455 of the Construction and General Laborers Union, while serving as the union's business agent. Inorio and Annunziato both entered not guilty pleas to two embezzlement charges and a conspiracy count on May 3, but Annunziato subsequently disappeared and attempts by the government and Annunziato's lawyer to locate the mob figure have been unsuccessful.

At the start of Inorio's trial Tuesday the defendant's lawyer, Edward Daly, objected to going forward without Annunziato, but Judge Daly accepted Federal Strike Force on Organized Crime Prosecutor Donald Abrams' statement that attempts to locate Annunziato had been unsuccessful.

Abrams and Edward Daly battled through most of the day on legal points relating to the admissibility of recorded evidence, but the prosecutor was able to produce videotapes of a Dec, 19 meeting between Annunziato, Inorio and Robert Proto, the owner of the Silver Fox Restaurant in Branford. Abrams told the judge that the government, with Proto's permission, had taped the meetings and intended to prove the men had taken $4,400 in union funds paid for the party and converted them to their own use. He added the two men had allegedly set up a gambling casino at the party, but admitted no gambling charges were involved in the case. Abrams claimed the two men had given Proto a $2,000 deposit of which he gave them back $1,000 and that Proto then turned over $3,400 of the $6,800 paid by union members who attended the party.

Later in the day Abrams was also able to produce Proto, under government protection, who testified that Inorio and Annunziato made a kickback agreement with him in return for scheduling the union's Christmas party at his restaurant on Dec. 17, 1978. Proto said the told him to inflate his costs for the party and told him they would charge $12 per person for the affair although his costs were less.

"They both said "Now don't forget we get six and you get six" Proto said. He added that when the men gave him a $2,000 downpayment, he kept $1,000 and gave $1,000 back to the duo and they then took $500 each. The tapes showed Proto turning over envelopes which the government maintains contained kickback money the duo were extracting from Proto for the staging of a union Christmas Party at his restaurant.

Daly denied that his client was involved in any illegal activity.

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