CAILIN BROWN Staff writer

April 8, 1994

TROY Frank 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:

Corlew told union officials that when he arrived in Hawaii with Archina and his wife in July 1993, Archina told him that a conference had been canceled but that a high union official said since ``Hawaii was such a nice place, they should stay for a few days.'' Training fund records show that $6,000 was advanced to Archina and Corlew for trip expenses.

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.

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