Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Forde Cohort Pleads Guilty To Racketeering

Last Updated: July 7,
The New York Post reported that Michael Brennan, a former crooked shop steward for Local 608 pleaded guilty this afternoon to racketeering charges in a scam that betrayed his fellow union members by letting contractors hire illegal aliens to work off the books.

Michael Brennan was among ten people named in a 29-count indictment on August 5, 2009 with stealing millions from the union and its benefit fund and led to the ouster of powerful carpenter labor leader Michael Forde, who tested positive for coke and pot after he was busted.

Forde the indicted head of the  New York City District Council of Carpenters and his two union paid co-conspirators, John Greaney, 49, a business manager and president of UBC Local 608, and Brian Hayes, 38, a business agent and trustee of Local 608, were fired from office August 12, 2009 by International Brotherhood of Carpenters General President Douglas McCarron.

McCarron ordered the trio to step down and placed the 25,000 member District Council under emergency supervision.

Forde’s other co-conspirators included, Drywall contractor Finbar O’Neill, 44, a reputed Luchese crime family associate, union shop stewards Brian Carson, 49, Joseph Ruocco, 49, John Stamberger, 52, and Michael Vivenzo, 61 and Mr. Joesph Olivieri, 54, a benefits fund trustee and the executive director of the Wall, Ceiling and Carpentry Industries of New York.

Brennan, faces up to 87 months in the slammer under a plea deal in which he admitted pocketing bribes from On Par Contracting, whose owner, James Murray, is cooperating with authorities and a key government witness, prosecutor Mark Lanpher confirmed.

On Par is one of six unnamed companies that paid bribes to Forde and his cohorts.

It appears Murray may be Contractor No. 1, the unindicted co-conspirator with the deepest involvement in the bribery scheme.

Among the numerous accusations linked to Contractor No. 1 is skulduggery at 63 Wall St., where On Par was a key player, and 3536 Cambridge Ave., a Bronx building in which Murray reportedly was a major investor.

Murry was so enmeshed in the scheme that when he began to worry that John Greaney might rat them out, Brennan, the indicted shop steward, assured him that would never happen.

Then, he added menacingly, if it did, "We'd f---in' have to kill him," the indictment said.

Brennan, 54, also admitted embezzling union funds and destroying documents subpoenaed by Walter Mack, the former court-appointed monitor whose job, thanks to a 20-year-old consent decree, was to investigate probing years of corruption at the Carpenters District Council.

"On Par habitually paid carpenters in cash," wrote Mack in a 2005 memo, thus "cheating the district council's benefit funds of well over $10 million that I have been able to identify."

Mack also noted that Murray was assisted by a team of hand-picked union shop stewards who cleverly manipulated the union's job referral rules. The designated stewards conveniently neglected to list dozens of union employees on required shop steward reports for the union. When Mack sought to question Michael Brennan about the practice, Brennan immediately took the Fifth Amendment (page 17).

Several enforcement officials acknowledge that Mack's work led to some of the charges in the indictment.

But the union, exercising its option under the consent decree, decided to fired Mr. Mack in 2005, after his two-year term ran out.

Supporters of Mack believe he was fired because of the corruption he was uncovering (which Forde and others have been indicted) and the lack of will by the District Council Officers to combat it.

Mack also reported that the Districts Councils “anti-corruption program” lacked any truly independent investigator responsible for looking into allegations of corruption and found that the District Council was guilty of “at the very least negligence” and has been compromised and questioned the council’s commitment to combat corruption.

Brennan -- who agreed to pay back $100,000 in illicit proceeds -- declined to comment after entering his guilty plea in Manhattan federal court. He is free on bail pending sentencing in October.

Brennan is the fourth shop steward to plead guilty in the case.

We reported Brian Carson and John Stamberger two other crooked former shop stewards pleaded guilty. Steward Mike Vivenzio, also pled guilty last week and Finbar O'Neill, the contractor prosecutors accused of delivering cash payments to indicted carpenter boss Michael Forde, pleaded guilty on May 20, to making payments to Forde, in excess of $100,000 over a ten-year period, on behalf of On Par and KAFCI in exchange for appointment of shop stewards who would permit cash payments to carpenters and other favorable treatment.

Five out of the ten co-conspirators named in the August 5, 2009 indictment have plead guilty, sentencing is expected in late October, after the Forde trial.

Forde goes to trial Sept. 7, along with two top union leaders, John Greaney, and Brian Hayes, shop steward, Joseph Ruocco and Joesph Olivieri, a benefits trustee.

Last month the United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York announced in a press release that federal Judge Charles S. Haight Jr. "has appointed Dennis Walsh, Review Officer to oversee the operations of the New York City District Council of Carpenters and its Benefit Funds.


  1. Yeah Great they got 1 fucking shop steward so far. When are they going to get the Head Cheeses? What retribution does the union get?Probaby nothing.

  2. local 135 is the same way


I would ask that if you would like to leave a comment that you think of Local 157 Blogspot as your online meeting hall and that you wouldn’t say anything on this site that you wouldn’t, say at a union meeting. Constructive criticism is welcome, as we all benefit from such advice. Obnoxious comments are not welcome.