A New York union leader was charged in a fraud, bribery and racketeering scheme along with 10 other union members, according to a Thursday indictment.
James Cahill, president of the New York State Building and Construction Trades Council and executive council member of the New York State American Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrial Organizations, is accused of leading the scheme, according to a Department of Justice statement.
Cahill and ten officials allegedly accepted more than $100,000 in bribes beginning in October 2018.
The defendants were arrested on Wednesday and Thursday.
“This was a complete betrayal of these unions and their membership,” Suffolk County district attorney Timothy D. Sini said.
“Our two-year wiretap investigation uncovered a shocking level of greed and corruption, and the investigation is very much ongoing.”
U.S. attorney Ilan Graff added: “As alleged, the defendants exploited their labor organization positions to line their own pockets.”
Cahill and the others allegedly accepted bribes in the form of loans that were never repaid, free meals and drinks, free labor on personal property and purchases of home appliances, according to the Justice Department.
The conspirators in the scheme allegedly accepted the bribes and in return took actions that favored non-union work, thus undermining their own organizations.
In one wiretap recording, Cahill told an employer not to sign with a union. He said, “tell everyone to go f— themselves” because “if you become union, you’ll have 12 f—— guys on your back.”
“Today’s indictment reflects our commitment to rooting out corruption and bringing to justice those who abuse positions of power out of personal greed,” Graff said.
Cahill, a top New York labor leader, was a key part of the negotiations that led to a $4 billion agreement with the state of New York for the new Gov. Mario Cuomo Bridge, according to the New York Daily News.
The Trades Council consists of several local affiliates and represents more than 200,000 unionized construction workers, according to the Department of Justice.
Cahill faces up to 45 years in prison if found guilty of all charges.
He will plead not guilty, his attorney said.
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