Nine years after Michael Forde admitted to his role in a bribery scheme that cheated his union’s pension funds of millions of dollars, he’s agreed to give up part of his pension.
In a federal civil court filing this week, the New York City District Council of Carpenters’ pension and benefit funds acknowledged that it received payments from former executive-secretary treasurer Michael Forde, who was sentenced to 11 years in federal prison back in 2010. Though the court approved a $15.3 million judgement against Forde and the former president of Local 157, John Greaney, back in April, the union subsequently accepted lower amounts from both, court documents show. According to Forde’s attorney, Dino Lombardi, Forde agreed to forfeit the lionshare of one of his retirement accounts, which has a value of nearly $800,000. He also continues to make regular payments on restitution stemming from his criminal conviction.
“Having forfeited a substantial sum of money at the time of his conviction, being incarcerated for eight years without earning any money and not having any other assets accept these benefits,
it’s not like he can reach into his pocket and write them a $10 million check,” Lombardi said. “Any plaintiff being prudent about spending additional time and legal fees trying to get blood from a stone would be usually willing to make a more reasonable settlement.”
The payment nearly puts to rest more than eight years of litigation, which took aim at 21 other carpenter employees and contractors. Claims against all but two of the defendants have been resolved since the lawsuit was filed in 2011.
Forde pleaded guilty in 2010 to racketeering conspiracy and racketeering conduct charges, resulting from a scheme in which he accepted bribes from contractors in exchange for allowing them to pay workers in cash and contribute less to the union’s pension and benefit funds. He was sentenced to 132 months in federal prison, and he was also ordered to forfeit $100,000, pay a fine of $50,000 and another $5.7 million in restitution. The union’s pension funds subsequently filed a civil suit against Forde and several others accused in the bribery scheme, seeking to recover money that should’ve been contributed to the funds as part of collective bargaining agreements with the union.
According to public records, Forde’s slated to be released from a halfway house in Brooklyn this September.
The carpenter’s union has been under the supervision of an independent monitor since 1994, following a settlement with the federal government over corruption charges. The monitor’s term was recently extended through mid-August. Last month, leaders of two of the union’s city chapters, Locals 157 and 926, were accused of accepting tens of thousands of dollars in bribes in exchange for union membership. At the time of Forde’s conviction, Local 157 more than tripled its membership because it was merged with Local 608. Several leaders of Local 608 had been indicted alongside Forde for allegedly taking part in the bribery scheme.