JAY JOCHNOWITZ Staff writer
April 25, 1998
The lawyer for Samuel Fresina, the Albany
labor leader swept into a controversy over a payment of $221,000
to a former union official with alleged mob connections, said
Friday that Fresina had nothing to do with organized crime and
that the recent findings of misusing funds actually boils down
to a contract dispute case.
Eugene Devine, the attorney for Fresina and
three other members of the New York State Laborers Political Action
Committee, said they would appeal in federal court in New York
``I'm pretty confident that if we can get
to court and outside this internal process, we'll be successful,''
The Laborers union has been operating under
Justice Department scrutiny since 1995 in the wake of a federal
Fresina and the other PAC board members face
removal from their statewide and local posts as a result of the
decision by Peter Vaira, an independent hearing officer who reviews
corruption and racketeering cases in the union.
The case comes as Fresina faces re-election
this year to his post as business manager for Local 190. With
the appeal pending, the election was postponed by Arthur Coia,
president of the Laborers International Union of North America.
Also found to have misused union funds in
the case were the three other members of the PAC board: Charles
Dolcimascolo, business manager of the Cement and Concrete Workers
District Council in New York City; Dario Bocarossa, business manager
of Local 235 in Elmsford; and Joseph D'Amato, a field representative
for Local 731 in New York City, according to Robert Luskin, a
union attorney who deals with corruption cases.
Vaira found the four men breached the union's
ethical rules in a $221,000 payment to Salvatore Lanza, the PAC's
former administrator. In 1996, Lanza was ordered fired by Luskin
after Lanza was ousted from his own union, the Mason Tenders District Council in New York City, on charges of racketeering and associating with organized crime
Vaira and Luskin said they cannot discuss
the case while it is under appeal, but Devine said the case hinged
on whether the PAC board was obligated to pay Lanza. Devine maintains
it was, because Lanza had a contract that guaranteed him the job
for two more years, and the PAC could have faced higher costs
in a lawsuit.
Although the union has said it cannot discuss
the charges while they are being appealed, Devine said the findings
against each of the board members involved two charges of misuse
of union funds.
The PAC committee members were cleared of
all other charges, however, including obstructing the investigation,
Devine said. The obstruction charge stemmed from a confidentiality
clause in the agreement with Lanza, which Devine said is a standard
part of settlements.
Copyright 1998, Capital Newspapers
Division of The Hearst Corporation, Albany, N.Y.