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Four Sentenced In Laborers Case


DATELINE: MIAMI July 21, 1987

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.

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