Toronto police say he's regarded as a stool pigeon


Staff writer

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 Canada.

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 in Toronto.

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 conspiracy.

Mickley, who now lives in Feura Bush, declined to comment.

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.

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