- Eleven former officials from several New York labor unions have pleaded guilty to charges of accepting bribes and illegal cash payments from a construction contractor, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York. One of them, James Cahill, is the former president of the New York State Building and Construction Trades Council.
- Each of the officials pleaded guilty as of Monday to either honest services fraud conspiracy or to violating the Taft-Hartley Act, which is designed to protect workers from unfair practices by labor groups. According to court documents, they accepted bribes from October 2018 to October 2020, all from the same, unnamed contractor. They were indicted for racketeering, fraud and bribery charges in October 2020.
- Cahill, according to the attorney’s announcement, was the ringleader, advising the contractor, which court documents refer to as “the employer,” that they could reap the benefits of union association without employing union workers. Some of the defendants face up to 20 years in prison.
The NYS Trades Council represents over 200,000 unionized construction workers. Cahill admitted in his guilty plea to accepting $44,500 from the employer, and acknowledged previously having accepted at least $100,000 in connection with his union positions.
According to court documents, the unnamed employer met with union officials in restaurant restrooms and distributed envelopes stuffed with money. During the meetups where the employer paid off officials, they would request favors from the unions, to include supporting the contractor’s bid, signing the contractor to labor agreements that it considered more favorable (such as a contract including paying union workers lower rates than merited) or allowing the contractor to lie to developers about the number of union workers it employed.
“The defendants exploited their union positions and hard-working union members to feed their own greed,” said U.S. Attorney Damian Williams in a press release. “They accepted bribes to corruptly favor non-union employers and influence the construction trade in New York.”
In addition to Cahill, the defendants are:
- Robert Egan, secretary-treasurer, UA Local 638.
- Arthur Gipson, business agent, UA Local 200.
- Patrick Hill, business agent, Local 638.
- Christopher Kraft, business agent, Local 638.
- Kevin McCarron, business agent, Local 638.
- Andrew McKeon, business agent, Local 638.
- Matthew Norton, business agent, Local 638.
- Scott Roche, business agent at large, Local 638.
- Jeremy Sheeran, business agent, Local 638.
- William Brian Wangerman, business agent, Local 638.
U.S. District Judge Colleen McMahon will sentence each of the defendants in Manhattan federal court over the coming months.