BY CAILIN BROWN
October 28, 1993
The chances of Frank J. Archina Jr. making
his way back to Canada are pretty slim because most people he
knew there would consider him a "pigeon," as in stool
pigeon, according to Metro Toronto police.
Not only did Archina, known as Archino in
Canada, talk to the press after his release from prison, he also
appeared on a television show about organized crime, called "Connections,"
broadcast by the Canadian Broadcasting Co.
The CBC has refused to release copies of
the program because of litigation related to it.
"He came through as a pigeon in the
press," said Metro Toronto Inspector Bob Strathdee, who worked
extensively on the case. He said Archina shouldn't come back to
Archina, the fugitive former business agent
of Laborers Local 452 in Troy, disappeared from the Capital Region
in early September after the New Jersey-based International Laborers
Union of North America found that money was missing from savings
and pension accounts.
Shortly after that internal investigation,
the FBI began its probe and the U.S. attorney's office issued
a warrant for Archina's arrest on charges that he embezzled $570,000
from the union.
Metro staff Inspector Ron Sandelli said that
although Archina's face was obscured when he appeared in "Connections,"
police officials knew it was him.
During the television program, Archina talked
about getting sworn into the mob.
"He wasn't a very bright individual.
He was as thick as a brick," Sandelli said. "I'm surprised
he would steal this kind of money from a union. I wouldn't want
him looking after my union funds."
The FBI has not approached Toronto police
in connection with the Archina investigation, although his name
is on their wanted list.
Strathdee said he was investigating an unrelated
counterfeiting operation in 1976 when Archina and his partner
at the time, George Leo Mickley of Albany, stopped at a Toronto
car dealership under surveillance.
In a telephone interview Wednesday, Strathdee
gave this account of his encounter with Archina:
Toronto constables stopped the car with Archina
and Mickley in it for a routine traffic check and noticed hotel
keys on the car seat, although the men said they were not staying
Strathdee went to the hotel, and while he
was questioning them there, the two men admitted that they were
in Toronto to do a "kneecapping."
A .38-caliber pistol was hidden in the spare
tire along with directions to the home of Tony Commisso, a real
estate salesman Archina and Mickley said they intended to shoot.
The directions and a note were handwritten by Domenic Racco, Commisso's
brother-in-law and a Toronto mobster who was at the time serving
a 10-year sentence for attempted murder. Racco himself was shot
dead in Toronto in 1983.
Racco's request for a revenge shooting of
Commisso never materialized because Archina and Mickley confessed
their involvement in the plot.
"This was 'The Gang That Couldn't Shoot
Straight,'" Strathdee said of Archina and Mickley. "They
might take a shot at the guy, and end up shooting his dog."
Both Mickley and Archina were imprisoned
for conviction of conspiracy to wound. They also served time for
refusing to talk at Racco's trial in connection with the same
Mickley, who now lives in Feura Bush, declined
Sandelli, who worked with Strathdee on the
Archina case, confirmed Wednesday that there is a warrant for
Archina's arrest on the Troy embezzlement charges in the Toronto
police computer system, but he said the FBI has not been in direct
contact with his agency.
Sandelli said Archina was spending time with
big-time criminals. Archina's cousin Domenic Racco is the son
of Mike Racco.
"If we ever had a godfather in this
city at any time," Sandelli said, it was Mike Racco, and
Domenic Racco was his "heir apparent."
Prison records confirm that Archina regularly
visited Domenic Racco in prison.
"While (Archina) was in jail, he agreed
to cooperate with the police," Sandelli said, but when Archina
got up to testify in Racco's trial, he clammed up.
Sandelli said he watched Racco put his fingers
to his lips to quiet Archina when he took the stand.
Carl Fillichio, a Laborers spokesman in New
Jersey, denied reports that the Justice Department is investigating
the union nationally.
Barbara Lazarus, special assistant to the
U.S. attorney in Chicago, where reports have originated, would
not confirm or deny an investigation. She said her offices have
no records of an investigation of Frank Archina.