By JEFF HARDY
DATELINE: MIAMI July 21,
Four Chicago men were sentenced
to 10 years in prison Tuesday for racketeering conspiracy in a
scheme to skim about $2 million from Laborer's International Union
insurance plans in Chicago and South Florida.
Defendants Paul A. DiFranco,
Paul Fosco, James F. Norton and James Pinkard each received the
same sentence from U.S. District Judge James Kehoe. Their first
trial ended in a mistrial in November after a juror said another
juror tried to influence her with the mention of a newspaper article.
The second trial began in April.
The 6-year-old racketeering
case at one time included 16 defendants. Twelve have been convicted.
Three others - Chicago mob boss Anthony Accardo, laborers union
president Angelo Fosco (Paul Fosco's father) and union official
Terrence O'Sullivan -- have been acquitted.
The government claimed the
$2 million was paid to labor and organized crime bosses, including
Tampa organized crime figure Santo Trafficante, who was indicted
but never was tried because of his ailing health. He died earlier
this year. "This is the conclusion
of the trial for all the defendants," said federal strike
force prosecutor Mike Owens. "The first defendants have been
ordered to report to jail July 27. The last remaining vestiges
of this case are the appeals for DiFranco, Fosco, Norton and Pinkard."
The case involved kickbacks
from dental and medical insurance providers to officials of the
Laborer's International Union of North America. In return, the
union bosses used their influence to steer business to the providers.
The government received a tip
in 1976 on the illegal activity from the son of a man involved
in the scheme.
That year the FBI conducted
a search of Consultants and Administrators in Chicago, a service
provider for labor unions with a parent company in South Florida
called Dental and Vision Care Center.
Joseph Howser (sic),a convicted
insurance swindler, became a government witness in January 1978
and participated for about six months in 1979 in an FBI undercover
operation called "Brilab."
As a result of Operation Brilab,
the search in Chicago and other information, the government in
1981 charged each of the 16 original defendants with one count
of racketeering conspiracy.