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Latest News - February 2011

February 8, 2011
Former Union Official Given Prison Term
By: Justo Bautista

A former labor union business manager from Clifton who conspired with reputed organized crime figures to provide jobs to friends and criminal associates was sentenced Monday to 33 months in prison, U.S. Attorney Paul J. Fishman said.

Michael Urgola, 50, formerly served as business manager for Local 1153 of the Laborers International Union of North America, in Bloomfield. He pleaded guilty in federal court in Newark in December 2009 to a count of wire fraud conspiracy, the government said.

Urgola admitted that between January 2006 and November 2007, he conspired with Andrew Merola, Ralph Cicalese and others to defraud Local 1153 of its property — namely union membership cards issued to persons not entitled to journeyman membership in the union.

Federal authorities identified Merola, 42, of East Hanover and Toms River, as one of the Gambino crime family's highest-ranking members in New Jersey. Cicalese, 56, of Roseland, was identified as a top Gambino associate.

As a result of the scheme, Urgola's friends and criminal associates were given jobs they would otherwise not have been able to get, receiving work referrals ahead of other employees and Local 1153 members waiting their turn on the union's out-of-work list, the government said.

Urgola admitted that, as a result of the fraud, union members were deprived of $400,000 to $1 million in lost wages and benefits.

In addition to the prison term, U.S. District Judge Stanley R. Chesler sentenced Urgola to three years of supervised release and imposed a $10,000 fine.

"Your sentence is the minimum necessary to show the next business manager of a union local that you can't do what you did," the judge told Urgola.



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