A September 2020 photo shows a carpenters’ union leader arm-in-arm with another former union member, clutching a golf trophy and grinning.
The image appears innocuous enough, but it allegedly violated one of the union’s most important rules: Don’t hang out with suspected mob associates.
Michael Rodin, a former regional manager for the New York City District Council of Carpenters and trustee for the union’s funds, retired at some point in the last two months. According to multiple sources, he left the union after accusations surfaced that he, along with other members, attended a golf outing with someone who had previously been accused of ties to the Colombo crime family.
Pictures posted on Facebook show Rodin posing with John Schnakenberg at Barbara’s Team of Hope Annual Golf & Food Festival, a fundraiser hosted by Schnakenberg at a Long Island country club in honor of his late wife, who had owned a construction company that employed union labor.
In 1997, Schnakenberg, a former officer with Local 348, faced charges for refusing to answer a judge’s questions regarding his association with the Colombo family, according to records from a 1998 Congressional hearing on the topic of “Impediments to Union Democracy.”
The carpenters’ union agreed to a court-appointed monitor in 1994, in an effort to root out the influence of organized crime in the District Council. The consent decree barred members from “knowingly associating with any member or associate of any La Cosa Nostra crime family or any other criminal group.”
In this case, the watchdog is not bringing charges. Monitor Glen McGorty outlined the incident in a letter to a federal judge on Thursday, writing that an investigation by his office and the inspector general found that a “senior individual” associated “with a barred person” at a September 2020 golf outing and that the person should be removed from office.
After the inspector general drafted charges and confronted the “senior individual,” the person decided to retire, “sparing the OIG, my office, and the Union from expending additional resources to prosecute the charges,” the letter states.
The letter does not provide any names of the individuals involved, though it does acknowledge that other union officers attended the golf outing. McGorty notes that they were given warnings but that their conduct did not rise to the level of a consent decree violation. It is not clear what put the “senior individual” over the edge compared to the other members.
The letter, which was filed in federal court, notes that the monitor rarely issues public statements about a confidential investigation, but made an exception in this case because it “significantly impacts the District Council and its members.”
“It serves as a reminder to all members that irrespective of their seniority or status within the Union or as a District Council employee, no one will be permitted to flout the strict tenets of the Consent Decree, and no one will be permitted to fraternize in any way with anyone associated with organized crime,” McGorty wrote.
Both McGorty and Schnakenberg declined to comment. Rodin did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
“The Inspector General’s office was created for the very purpose of taking corrective actions when instances of potential wrongdoing occur,” said Joseph Geiger, executive secretary-treasurer of the District Council. “We are 100 percent compliant and in support of the investigative process. The leadership team has no tolerance for misconduct, and as evidenced by the letter, has the structures and processes in place to uphold ethical standards.”
The District Council has been working toward eventually becoming independent from the monitor, with an eye on shifting most of the office’s responsibilities to its inspector general. The union, however, has faced some setbacks, including the departure of its inspector general last year and the resignation of two presidents amid misconduct charges.
Last month, a former president of one of the District Council’s locals was sentenced to 60 months in prison, with two years of supervised release, for his role in a scheme that saw hundreds of union membership cards traded for cash bribes.