Albany Local 190 official did not misuse funds, his attorney says


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 City.

``I'm pretty confident that if we can get to court and outside this internal process, we'll be successful,'' Devine said.

The Laborers union has been operating under Justice Department scrutiny since 1995 in the wake of a federal racketeering investigation.

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 figures.

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.

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