BY CAILIN BROWN
February 8, 1994
Frank Archina Jr., the former union leader
accused of stealing $570,000 from Local 452 in Troy, is to be
returned to Albany in the next few days.
Archina, 39, was apprehended at Logan International
Airport in Boston on Friday when he stepped off a plane with his
two young children, Angela and Rocco.
On Monday, Archina appeared before U.S. Magistrate
Judge Robert Collings in Boston, who ordered that he be returned
to Albany to face embezzlement charges by the FBI.
Archina, who will be represented by the Jones
law firm in Troy, acknowledged in court that he was the person
the FBI was looking for. He then told the court:
"I don't know nothing, nothing. All
I know is that I'm going back to Albany," a remark that triggered
laughter in the Boston court gallery, according to an Associated
Peter Moschetti, Archina's attorney, said
Monday that he had tried for months to negotiate a surrender agreement
for his client with the U.S. attorney's office but that no agreement
had been reached by the time Archina returned from Italy on Friday.
"Apparently, he was coming back to surrender
himself," Moschetti said. "It was always his intent
to surrender himself, and he wanted to do that."
Moschetti said he will meet with Archina
in the next few days once federal marshals return him to Albany.
Archina's two children were returned to their
mother -- Archina's wife, Rita Mele Archina -- who has been staying with relatives locally.
Archina, who was the business agent of Local
452 of the International Laborers Union of North America, disappeared in September after learning
that the union books would be audited.
Not long after, his wife and children packed
their belongings at the family's Gail Avenue home in Colonie and
disappeared as well.
On Oct. 14, the FBI issued a warrant for
Archina's arrest after union leaders reported that he had stolen
some $570,000 in union funds. Some of the money came from the
general funds and a small amount from the pension, according to
According to the union, Archina used union
money to rent a Cadillac, and to take trips to Hawaii, California
and Florida. He also allegedly made numerous payments to family
members with union money.
Under the circumstances, Moschetti said he
does not know whether he will ask for bail when Archina appears
in Albany court. Archina is expected to be arraigned on the FBI
complaint this week before U.S. Magistrate Judge Ralph Smith in
U.S. Customs officers in Boston arrested
Archina after a check on his passport showed that he was wanted
by the FBI. Customs did not receive a tip, as previously reported,
spokesman Patrick O'Malley said. Archina's sister-in-law was at
the airport to pick up the children and apparently did not know
their father would be accompanying them.
Archina told Customs officers that he was
out of the country for four or five weeks on a vacation trip visiting
family, O'Malley said.
Flight records from Alitalia Airlines show
that he bought his ticket from an agent in Catanzaro, Calabria,
in the southern part of Italy the day before he returned to the
United States. All three were scheduled to return to Italy on
a flight Feb. 24.
Archina spent the weekend at the Braintree
Police Department's jail, according to Bill McMullen of the FBI
Neither McMullen nor Mike O'Brien with the
FBI in Albany would say when Archina initially left the country.
Archina used the name Archino when he presented
his passport Friday in Boston. Archino is his given name, but
he changed it after serving jail time in Canada.
In 1976, Archina was convicted of conspiring
to shoot a Toronto real estate salesman for dishonoring a member
of the Calabrian Mafia. He spent three years in jail, and after
his release spoke publicly about his alleged Mafia connections.
He told the Toronto Globe and Mail that he had been involved with
the Mafia, and that he had gone through a special induction ceremony
in Canada. Accounts of his Mafia connections have not been substantiated,
and he has contradicted himself several times.
Since he left the area, the International
Laborers Union revoked the charter of Local 452, which was 54
years old, and the majority of its members signed up with Local
190 in Albany. Sam Fresina, the business agent at that union,
was out of town and did not return phone calls Monday.
In late October, Archina telephoned reporter
John McLoughlin at Channel 10 and accused Fresina of trying to
take over the Troy union. Archina denied stealing any money, and
would not say where he was calling from. At that time, Fresina
denied the accusations.
"At this point the criminal process
takes over, and we will watch the case closely to see if any further
action is appropriate," said Carl Fillichio, a spokesman
for the International.
A former Local 452 member, Jim McNeil, recently
joined Local 190 when the union he belonged to for decades was
dissolved. Four months before information of the alleged embezzlement
surfaced, McNeil had notified the Department of Labor in Boston
and Albany that he suspected Archina of stealing.
On Monday, McNeil predicted that Archina
will "sing like a canary" when he appears in court,
and that he will implicate others in the Local 452 embezzlement
George Corlew, former president of the union, and other former board members, all of whom were removed from their positions, have not returned calls concerning the embezzlement issue.