Sunday, November 21, 2010

Carpenters union boss Michael Forde sentenced to 11 years in prison

Irish construction boss sealed his fate

Ex-carpenters union chief Michael Forde faces 11 years in prison for corruption charges

Ex-Carpenters union boss Michael Forde was sentenced to 11 years in prison after pleading guilty to corruption.

The main witness against Forde and other union leaders was a former Irish construction company owner James Murray who admitted he had bribed Forde with $100,000 dollars to look the other way on union jobs.

During his time as head of the heavily Irish Local 608 union, Forde allowed the hiring of many illegal immigrant Irish carpenters and paid them less wages and pocketed the difference with the union rate.

"I take full responsibility for my actions. I betrayed trust. I am deeply ashamed for my behavior," said the ex-chief of the District Council of Carpenters in a Manhattan courtroom last week. "I have no excuse."

In July, Forde pleaded guilty to racketeering charges. He admitted that he took hundreds of thousands of dollars in bribes from contractors using nonunion labor, putting union workers out of work and cheating them out of millions in welfare benefits.

Last week, prosecutors revealed that he had put his "personal cocaine supplier" on the union payroll.

The District Council is the city's largest construction union and has a history of corruption. Forde’s two predecessors were also imprisoned on corruption charges. His father, Martin Forde was also indicted several years ago for alleged mafia links.

Manhattan Federal Judge Victor Marrero took three months off the maximum sentence Forde faced under the plea deal and said Forde was a "downright wicked" man who "operated on the frontiers of depravity."

Forde was fined $50,000 and ordered to forfeit $100,000. He must make restitution to the union and its benefit funds, which are seeking $18 million. Forde must surrender by Jan. 7.

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