June 19, 1982
AP MIAMI, June 18,A
reputed Chicago crime boss, Anthony Accardo, and the former secretary
of the Laborers International Union were acquitted today of charges
they embezzled about $2 million from the union's benefit fund.
Six other defendants were convicted, but
the Federal jury, which had deliberated for two weeks, said it
could not reach a verdict against three remaining defendants.
The union's general president, Angelo Fosco,
was among the three for whom no verdict was reached. Terrence
J. O'Sullivan, the former union secretary treasurer and later
head of Worldwide Insurance Company, also was acquitted.
Convicted were James Caporale, Seymour A.
Gopman, Louis S. Ostrer, Alfred Pilotto, Bernard G. Rubin and
George Wuagneux. Besides Mr. Fosco, no verdict was given for John
Giardiello, the head of a Palm Beach, Fla., union local, and Salvatore
Tricario, the business agent for the Palm Beach local.
The trial began April 12. The indictments
were issued a year ago, on June 3, after a two-year investigation
of the union by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Internal
Revenue Service, the Department of Labor and the Justice Department's
Organized Crime Strike Force. At the time of the indictments,
Justice Department lawyers and Federal investigators said the
case was an important one among racketeering prosecutions, asserting
that the trial would establish that organized crime controlled
the Laborers International Union.
The union has headquarters in Washington
and represents 530,000 unskilled and semiskilled laborers in the
construction industry. In all, 16 men were indicted. Five are
still to be tried, the most prominent being Santo Trafficante
Jr. Mr. Trafficante, who is 68 years old and lives in Tampa, Fla.,
has been identified by witnesses testifying before various Congressional
committees as one of the last of the old-time Mafia dons, the
head of one of 26 organized crime families in this country.
Federal records trace a "Tampa Mafia
family" back to 1914, when possession of heroin and morphine
became illegal in the United States. The United States Narcotics
Bureau, the predecessor of the Drug Enforcement Administration,
at the time described the Tampa organization, under the leadership
of Ignacio Antinori, as "the major source of illegal drugs"
imported here. Santo Trafficante Sr., who had lived in Tampa since
1904, took over the Tampa interests after Mr. Antinori was murdered
in 1940, according to investigators, and after his death in 1954,
he was succeeded as chief by his son.
The trial of Santo Trafficante Jr. has been
delayed indefinitely because the defendant has a kidney ailment
that makes him too ill to travel, according to a kidney specialist
who testified at a preliminary hearing.
Among the 11 brought to trial, the two best
known are Mr. Accardo, who invoked the Fifth Amendment privilege
against self-incrimination 150 times in testimony before the Senate
Rackets Committee in 1958 and who once served as Al Capone's chauffeur
and bodyguard, and Mr. Fosco, the president of the Laborers International
Union. Mr. Accardo, 76, and Mr. Fosco, 61, both live in Chicago.
At its simplest, the Government's case, according
to a prosecutor, John Owens, was that 15 cents of every dollar
paid by union members for health care from 1972 to 1977 was kicked
back to the defendants, occasionally directly and sometimes through
paper corporations set up by Mr. Fosco's 29-year-old son, Paul
Fosco, by Mr. Gopman, 57, a Miami labor lawyer, and Mr. Wuagneux,
48, a Fort Lauderdale condominium developer.
The Government had two key witnesses, both
unindicted coconspirators who had United States marshals as bodyguards
under the Federal Witness Program. One was Joseph Hauser, who
testified that he set up an insurance company, Farmers National
Life, at the behest of the defendants and that the company wrote
policies for the union and paid the kickbacks. The other was Daniel
Milano, son of the union's late auditor, who testified both he
and his father collected kickbacks and made some of the payoff
to some of the defendants.
In his closing remarks, Thomas Foran, the
lawyer for the union's president, Angelo Fosco, described Mr.
Hauser with an epithet and Mr. Milano as "a bum." He
called the prosecution "the con job of the century."
In turn, the prosecutor, William Hyatt, characterized Mr. Foran's
argument as a "smokescreen."