Mayo man in New York carpenters’ union set for sentencing on felony

A Mayo man with a high profile in the New York Irish community has been implicated in a scandal that has resulted in the shutting down of a carpenters’ union in the city.

According to a report in the Irish Emigrant this week, New York’s Local 608 carpenters’ union has been permanently closed in the aftermath of racketeering and corruption scandals which have blighted the organisation.

The report states:

“A recent sweeping federal probe has seen numerous corruption convictions, and five of the branch’s recent presidents have been fired.

“In New York City, approximately 20,000 members of the Carpenters Union are divided into so-called ‘locals’. Founded in 1918, Local 608, which oversaw carpenters on Manhattan’s West Side and the Bronx, was once the largest local in the District Council, with approximately 7,400 members, many of whom are Irish or Irish American. Its members have now been transferred to East Side Local 157, itself no stranger to controversy, having been placed under anti-corruption supervision from 2007 to late 2008.

“In July John Greaney (50 ), one of the former Local 608 presidents in question, pleaded guilty to 13 felony charges including corruption, racketeering, embezzlement, bribery and perjury, whilst serving in office. Greaney, whose mother hailed from Swinford in Co Mayo, had previously been honoured for his role in New York’s Irish community.

“In pleading guilty, he agreed to testify against his former boss, District Council of Carpenters chief Michael Forde (56 ), himself a past Local 608 president. Greaney detailed how he and Forde took bribes which enabled contractors like Irishman James Murray to use low-paid, non-union, workers for union jobs.

“In turn Murray (45 ) implicated Greaney and Forde, and also told how the Mafia remains firmly rooted within New York’s construction industry. Giving evidence in the trial of Joseph ‘Rudy’ Olivieri (56 ), Murray told the court he came to the US from Ireland some 20 years ago in search of work and steadily built a large construction firm by co-operating with widespread racketeering.

“He told of paying Olivieri, known to have ties with New York’s Genovese crime family, over $1 million as a sub-contractor on two Riverdale apartment houses which he [Murray] was constructing with non-union labour. He said Forde received more than $100,000 in payments, with Greaney given sums of cash as well as tickets to the Super Bowl.

“Forde recently received a prison term of 11 years, with former Local 608 shop steward Michael Brennan (54 ) jailed for five years for his part in the scandal. Greaney is due to be sentenced on January 14. The 10th defendant found guilty in the probe, Olivieri is scheduled to be sentenced on January 21. In a separate case to the other 10 defendants, Murray pleaded guilty to charges including money laundering and embezzlement, and is set to be sentenced on April 7.”

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