Mob still making trouble in construction industry
Organized crime targeting nonunion contractors
The mob’s insidious ties to the construction industry are the stuff of legend. It isn’t necessarily in the past, though.
Organized crime has popped up in several recent corruption prosecutions in New York City, according to The City. Mafia ties to the industry appear to have undergone a shift in recent years, however, from unions to nonunion contractors.
The move away from unions has decreased the mob’s influence on major construction projects. But organized crime is still finding a way to infiltrate other segments of the industry, including affordable housing development, posing a threat to jobs across the city.
“They can pay half the hourly rate, no fringe benefits, and screw a bunch of guys who often can’t speak English,” former FBI special agent Bruce Mouw told the publication.
On the union front, the former leader of the New York State Building and Construction Trades Council, James Cahill, pleaded guilty to bribery and fraud charges after taking more than $100,000 in payoffs to allow contractors to avoid hiring union labor, as well as corrupting union officials. He was allegedly seen with high-level mobsters and his boasts about organized crime ties were caught on tape.
Cahill was recently sentenced to 51 months in prison.
Last month, Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg indicted Lawrence Wecker’s JM3 Construction Enterprises for MWBE fraud. A total of 60 charges were announced against eight individuals and six companies under the JM3 umbrella.
Wecker allegedly has extensive ties to mob-related activity. In 2000, he was one of three dozen indicted in a bid-rigging and racketeering conspiracy targeting the concrete industry. More than a decade earlier, Wecker was cited as an unindicted co-conspirator in a case involving the concrete industry and organized crime.
Federal judges have reduced organized crime’s control of unions since the 1980s by appointing monitors. Mobsters now operate on the fringes with smaller, nonunion contractors, which aren’t policed as closely.
Since 2015, the Department of Buildings and the feds have responded to hundreds of complaints at job sites referenced in a mob kickback indictment.
— Holden Walter-Warner