The former union boss is accused of stealing $570,000

He's being held in Boston, where he was apprehended at the airport


Staff writer

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 Press report.

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 union reports.

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 Albany.

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 in Boston.

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 scheme.

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.

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