NYC carpenters union elects new president following 2 resignations

Paul Capurso’s victory awaits certification, and comes after misconduct allegations involving predecessors

Feb.February 20, 2020 02:50 PM
Paul Capurso (Credit: Facebook)

Paul Capurso (Credit: Facebook)

UPDATED Feb. 20, 7:40 p.m.: The New York City District Council of Carpenters has elected a new president, following the recent resignations of two of the union’s leaders amid allegations of misconduct.

Paul Capurso won by a significant margin, raking in 1,624 of the 3,668 votes tabulated by the union on Thursday. The results await certification by the district council’s court appointed monitor on March 9, followed by a swearing in ceremony. The union counted nearly 20,000 members as of September.

A special election was initiated late last year, following the resignation of Graham McHugh, who stepped down over allegations that he’d worked off the books earlier in his career, while he was a rank and file member of the union. His predecessor, Steve McInnis, resigned in February 2018 over allegations of misconduct — allegedly in relation to sexual harassment.

Capurso has been the union’s lead regional manager of business representatives in Manhattan and Queens since 2011 and has been a trustee of the benefit funds since 2013. According to his bio, he’s been a carpenter since 1987. Ahead of the election, Capurso earned the endorsements of the district council’s head, Joseph Geiger, and vice president Michael Cavanaugh.

Capurso couldn’t immediately be reached for comment.

The carpenter’s union has been under the supervision of an independent monitor since 1994, a product of a federal racketeering case. The monitor’s term was recently extended through the end of this year.

Last year, the union’s monitor indicated that the organization is considering different ways to root out ties to organized crime among its members. The District Council’s consent decree — the agreement it made with the federal government to resolve racketeering charges in the 1990s — bars members and leaders from “willful and purposeful” associations with organized crime. So, being related to an associate of organized crime isn’t grounds for dismissal. Attilio Bitondo, a former official with the now-defunct Local 257 and alleged associate of the Genovese crime family, was indicted in the 1980s with other union officials on extortion charges. Capurso’s relation to Bitondo (which Capurso described as a very distant relative) had come up in previous years, and rumblings surfaced again in the lead up to the special election. The district council’s former monitor Dennis Walsh said Thursday that the relationship had been thoroughly vetted and didn’t violate the consent decree.

“All the candidates were interviewed and investigated. Mr. Capurso had previously been vetted by my predecessor, and it had been determined at that time that nothing about Mr. Capurso’s relationship with Mr. Bitondo violated the Consent Decree,” Glen McGorty, the union’s current monitor, said in a statement. “In our own investigation, we learned of nothing to suggest otherwise, and Mr. Capurso was permitted to seek and hold the office of president.”

McGorty, who has served as the monitor since 2014, is winding down his role by transferring more investigative authority and responsibilities to the council’s inspector general, a position created in recent years as part of the union’s effort to eventually operate without a monitor.

Write to Kathryn Brenzel at [email protected]

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