Defendants Accepted Dozens of Bribes to Corruptly Influence the Construction Industry at the Expense of Labor Unions and Their Members
Eleven former union officials — JAMES CAHILL, former President of the New York State Building and Construction Trades Council, CHRISTOPHER KRAFT, PATRICK HILL, MATTHEW NORTON, WILLIAM BRIAN WANGERMAN, KEVIN MCCARRON, JEREMY SHEERAN, a/k/a “Max,” ANDREW MCKEON, ROBERT EGAN, SCOTT ROCHE, and ARTHUR GIPSON — have pled guilty to charges stemming from their acceptance of bribes and illegal cash payments from a construction contractor (“Employer-1”) from in or about October 2018 to in or about October 2020 while the defendants were serving as union officers. MCCARRON and EGAN pled guilty earlier today before United States District Judge Colleen McMahon to violating the Taft-Hartley Act, and the remaining defendants previously pled guilty either to honest services fraud conspiracy or to violating the Taft-Hartley Act.
Suffolk County District Attorney Raymond A. Tierney said: “These convictions highlight a shocking level of corruption among powerful labor officials in New York State. Through their greed and self-dealing, these defendants betrayed the hard-working members of their respective unions, and undermined the protections meant to be afforded by organized labor. While their members were performing difficult work at job sites throughout the region, these defendants sold out their membership by accepting bribes and cash payments in restaurant bathrooms. My Office will continue to uncover and prosecute corruption of all kinds, including that committed by union officials. I would like to thank the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Southern District of New York for partnering with my Office on these cases, and for bringing these prosecutions to a successful conclusion."
According to the allegations in the Indictment, statements made in court, and court filings:
JAMES CAHILL was the President of the New York State Building and Construction Trades Council (the “NYS Trades Council”), which represents over 200,000 unionized construction workers, a member of the Executive Council for the New York State American Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrial Organizations (the “NYS AFL-CIO”), and formerly a union representative of the United Association of Journeymen and Apprentices of the Plumbing and Pipefitting Industry of the United States and Canada (the “UA”). During the charged conspiracy, CAHILL accepted approximately $44,500 in bribes from Employer-1, and as part of his guilty plea, CAHILL acknowledged having previously accepted at least approximately $100,000 of additional bribes from Employer-1 in connection with CAHILL’s union positions.
KRAFT, HILL, NORTON, WANGERMAN, MCCARRON, SHEERAN, and MCKEON were Business Agents, EGAN was the Secretary-Treasurer, and ROCHE was the Business Agent At Large of the Local 638 of the UA (“Local 638”). GIPSON was a Business Agent of the Local Union 200 of the UA (“Local 200”). Each of these defendants accepted thousands and, in some cases, tens of thousands of dollars of cash bribes from Employer-1, a contractor who had projects and potential projects within the jurisdiction of Local 638 and Local 200.
All 11 defendants accepted cash from Employer-1 — usually stuffed in envelopes that Employer-1 handed off inside the restrooms of restaurants. During the meetings at which the payments were made, Employer-1 repeatedly requested favorable action from Local 638 and/or Local 200 including the following: (1) that the relevant union would support Employer-1’s bids on various projects, (2) that the union would consider signing Employer-1 to labor agreements that Employer-1 regarded to be favorable (including agreements that would pay union workers lower rates than their experience merited), and (3) that the union would permit Employer-1 to falsely claim to developers that Employer-1 employed union workers. JAMES CAHILL was the leader of the conspiracy and introduced Employer-1 to many of the other defendants, while advising Employer-1 that Employer-1 could reap the benefits of being associated with the unions without actually signing union agreements or employing union workers.
Employer-1 contracted to work on — or would bid on — projects that could have otherwise employed union workers belonging to Local 638 and/or Local 200. At the time Employer-1 was bribing the defendants, Employer-1’s business employed workers who were not members of Local 638 and/or Local 200 but would have been eligible for membership.
Sentencing guidelines range from 12 months in prison for Taft-Hartley Act Violation (Misdemeanor) to five years in prison for Taft-Hartley Act Violation (Felony) to 20 years in prison for Honest Services Fraud Conspiracy.