Top Irish union official turns Fed informer
John Greaney has agreed to cooperate with the government to avoid long jail sentence
Former president of the Carpenters Local 608 Union in New York John Greaney pleaded guilty on Friday, July 16 to a slew of charges related to corruption, racketeering, embezzlement, bribery and perjury in Manhattan federal court before the United States Magistrate Judge Henry B. Pitman.
An indictment charged Greaney and other officials within the District Council of New York City and Vicinity of the United Brotherhood of Carpenters and Joiners with engaging in a 15-year labor racketeering scheme involving the receipt of illegal payments from multiple contractors.
The Carpenters Union is a national labor union that represents skilled workers at construction sites. In New York City, approximately 20,000 members of the union are divided into 11 locals, overseen by the District Council. Thousands of Irish and Irish Americans are part of this union.
In exchange for bribes, Greaney, 50, and his co-conspirators -- Michael Forde, the former executive secretary/treasurer of the District Council and chairman of the benefit funds, and Brian Hayes, a former business agent and officer of Local 608 -- allowed and helped certain contractors to defraud the union and its benefit funds out of millions of dollars.
They permitted the contractors to pay union members cash at below-union rates, without benefits, employ undocumented and non-union workers on their job sites, and avoided payment to the union benefit funds.
On Friday Greaney gave statements at a hearing after signing a plea deal with the U.S. attorney's office. In exchange for cooperating with the government, Greaney will do little jail time.
Greaney, once the District Council's business manager for the local, is the seventh and highest ranking union official to make a deal with the FBI since an investigation into their wrongdoings was exposed.
On Friday Greaney admitted he sold out members of his own so he could reap the financial benefits that were so easily obtained.
"I shared in the illegal cash payments I received from the contractors," Greaney told the court.
Greaney, living in Yonkers, also admitted lying under oath to deny the scheme and obstruct a court-ordered investigation of corruption at the carpenters union District Council, where Forde served as secretary-treasurer until he was busted last year.
He also admitted to helping contractors cheat the union benefit funds and of depriving union members of his honest services.
Greaney would be facing up to 155 years in prison, but prosecutors have cut him a deal if he continues to agree to provide evidence against Forde and Hayes.
"John Greaney's guilty plea unfortunately confirms that corruption has been deeply entrenched within the Carpenters Union," U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara said.
Forde, 55, was boss of the District Council of Carpenters for 10 years until being charged with taking bribes from a man linked to the New Jersey-based DeCavalcante crime family.
In 2008 Forde was found not guilty but was charged in a separate indictment in 2009.
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