CAILIN BROWN Staff writer
April 8, 1994
Archina had plenty of help in destroying Laborers Local 452 last
fall, according to a union report turned over to the FBI.
The report, prepared in October by the international
Laborers Union, details a flurry of spending activity from the
Troy union hall that includes a list of people who possibly were
involved in the demise of the now-defunct union.
Archina, the former business manager of the
Rensselaer County local, remains in Albany County jail without
bail. He disappeared for several months last month before he was
arrested at Logan International Airport in Boston upon his return
from Italy. He has been charged with embezzlement in a federal
investigation that began last September
The report, which was released to a former
union member, shows that Local 452 not only paid for Archina's
trips to Hawaii and California, but also for former president
George Corlew. Corlew did not return calls and his attorney could
not be reached for comment.
In addition, the report by union investigators
found the following:
The date of a bill paid for by the union
coincides with the wedding date of one of Corlew's sons and ``it
appears to us now that this expense was more likely for the wedding''
than a clambake.
Corlew's work hours were exaggerated to qualify
him for retirement, and, after his dismissal last fall, he applied
for unemployment benefits which were contested by the union.
The local had more than $250,000 in certificates
of deposits in savings as of June 1992, just prior to Archina's
leadership, and ``by the time we reviewed the local's financial
accounts, all of that money had been spent in addition to all
the income taken in during fiscal 1993.''
Recording secretary Donna Abdella admitted
she altered minutes of meetings at Archina's request. The altered
minutes showed the membership had approved cashing in the certificates
of deposit and the payment for tuxedos and limousines for a union
trip to New Jersey. Abdella, who was improperly carried on the
local union's health insurance plan although she was ineligible,
admitted that she had complied with Archina's requests to falsify
the minutes. She could not be reached for comment Thursday.
Records show that Archina's sister-in-law,
Ines Esposito, was paid as an employee of the training fund from
April-June 1993. Archina told union members that Esposito was
married to a higher-up in the union and that he was forced to
give her a job. He also said that the union was required to pay
$5,000 to help in a defense fund for her union-connected husband.
Esposito, however, is married to Angelo Esposito, who in 1992
was convicted of first-degree manslaughter in connection with
a fatal gay-bashing incident in Long Island. (The car that was
used in the manslaughter, which was torched locally, was registered
to Archina's wife, Rita Mele, but owned by her sister Ines Mele.)
In addition, Ines Esposito filed for unemployment compensation
in connection with her supposed employment with the union. The
union disputes the claim.
Archina authorized three $50,000 transfers
from a Prudential account, one to a money manager in New York
City, and two to the Royal Bank of Canada in New York City for
deposit in an account called Empire Wholesale Jewelry.
All of this information was released to former
Local 452 member John Sloboda from the international. He just
recently received the report and said former union members have
a right to bring everyone involved up on charges to recover the
money the union lost. ``If any members are interested, they can
contact me,'' Sloboda said.
Another former union member, Jim McNeil,
had filed charges against Corlew with the Upstate New York Laborers
Council, but the council opted not to hold a hearing on the claims
until after the government has taken action, according to Sam
Fresina, business manager of Laborers Local 190 in Albany. In
the meantime, McNeil said he will hire a lawyer to represent his
claims against Corlew and other people he believes contributed
to the downfall of the union.
On Wednesday, the international notified
Fresina that Local 190 will take over responsibility for the geographical
territory which was once Troy's. That means that in addition to
the Albany, Greene and parts of Rensselaer counties, Albany will
be responsible for finding work with contractors in the rest of
Rensselaer County along with Washington County and parts of Saratoga
County. Fresina intends to hire a new field representative to
take over the territory.