Whistleblower lawsuit accuses carpenters’ union of brushing off claims of corruption, fraud

The former investigator alleges he was wrongfully terminated

TRD New York /
Oct.October 09, 2019 05:00 PM
The complaint claims that union officials discouraged him from investigating certain cases (Credit: iStock)

The complaint claims that union officials discouraged him from investigating certain cases (Credit: iStock)

A former investigator with the New York City District Council of Carpenters claims he was fired after complaining about selective investigations of corruption in the union.

Peter Marsalisi, who worked as a senior investigator with the union’s inspector general’s office, claims that union officials discouraged him from investigating certain cases “involving fraud, corruption and criminal activity.” For the union, which has been under federal supervision for more than 20 years, the inspector general’s office is a key part of its return to self governance.

The whistleblower lawsuit doesn’t provide details on the cases Marsalisi wished to pursue, but indicates that particular union members and companies were able to avoid scrutiny. He alleges he was wrongfully fired in October 2017.

The District Council has been under court supervision since 1994, as part of an agreement to settle a federal racketeering lawsuit against the union. Since then, an independent federal monitor has overseen the union and led investigations of alleged corruption. In recent years, two internal watchdog positions were created: chief compliance officer and inspector general. The current monitor, Glen McGorty, has gradually transferred authority to the IG’s office with the goal of taking over the monitor’s investigative duties.

Marsalisi declined to comment. His attorney, Donna Clancy, who has represented a few other ex-carpenters in recent lawsuits against the union, was not available to provide comment. Representatives for the District Council declined to comment.

Marsalisi claims that the union’s inspector general, Scott Danielson, was removed after the monitor conducted an audit of the IG’s office “amid unspecified allegations of misconduct.” A report filed by McGorty in March 2018 indicates that the monitor reviewed the IG’s office. After McGorty shared the findings of the review and conveyed his “expectations moving forward for the IG’s office,” Danielson announced that he would retire, according to the report. The report doesn’t indicate any wrongdoing on the IG’s part, but states that an “independent and effective IG’s Office is perhaps the most important goal along the road to self-governance for the District Council.”

The District Council, one of the city’s largest construction unions, is expected to renew its monitor’s term for at least another year. Earlier this year, one of the union’s New York chapters, Local 926, was temporarily taken over by the international umbrella organization for the District Council, the United Brotherhood of Carpenters. A panel of union officials are still working to determine whether or not UBC’s supervision should be permanent, following the indictment of Local 926’s president on bribery charges.

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