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Latest News - July 2015

July 1, 2015
Union leaders indicted in health care kickback scheme
Source: CAPITALNEWYORK.COM
By: COLBY HAMILTON

Two current and one former union officer have been indicted on embezzlement and kickback charges, U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara’s office announced Wednesday.

Rocco Miranti, the business manager of Novelty and Production Workers Local 223, and his son, Johnnie Miranti, who served as the union’s secretary-treasurer, were accused, along with Louis Smith, the former president of Teamsters Local 810, of accepting more than $1 million in kickbacks from an outside vendor to whom the union officials steered their locals’ health care benefits programs in exchange for the payments.

The unnamed administrator is cooperating with the government, according to Bharara’s office.

“Rocco Miranti, Johnnie Miranti and Louis Smith, by allegedly accepting more than a million dollars in bribes and embezzling union funds, put their self-interest above the interests of the union members they were supposed to represent,” Bharara said in a statement. “Rank-and-file union members are entitled to leadership that is supportive, not criminally exploitive, as alleged here.”

Rocco and Johnnie Miranti have held their positions since at least 2004. Smith was president of his union from 2000 to 2013, when he became a trustee of Local 810.

According to the complaint, kickbacks were initially provided only to Rocco Miranti. In 2005, he allegedly arranged for Local 810 to begin using the health care benefit administrator, when kickbacks then began to Smith. The kickbacks started out as 5 percent of the fees paid by the respective locals to the business, but in 2006 Rocco Miranti and Smith doubled their demands to 10 percent, according to the complaint.

In October 2014, both Mirantis and Smith were recorded by the FBI discussing the kickbacks with the business, and at points the actual hand-off of money occurred, according to Bharara’s office. This included a $10,000 cash payment to both Mirantis and a $12,000 cash payment to Smith in December 2014.

“Union leaders are supposed to represent workers for fair wages, benefits, and working conditions, not take kickback payments,” FBI assistant director Diego Rodriguez said in a statement.

The kickbacks for each local exceeded $500,000- according to the complaint.

 

 


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