Engineering News-Record

Union Agent Convicted In Card-Selling Scam

March 24, 1988

A laborers' union business agent has been found guilty of selling union cards to an open-shop hazardous-waste cleanup company so it could man union jobs with nonunion labor.

John A. Stagnitta, business agent for Local 333 in Syracuse, N.Y., was convicted of two counts of embezzlement and one charge of conspiracy to violate the Taft-Hartley Act.

The conviction resulted from an investigation by the Labor Dept.'s Office of Labor Racketeering.

The probe revealed that, between 1982 and 1986, Stagnitta sold two different sets of union cards for $9,200 to Steven M. Weiss, former owner of Allwash of Syracuse Inc., a hazardous-waste cleanup firm.

Weiss used the cards to get nonunion workers from Allwash onto union jobsites.

Weiss also owned Wentam Service Corp., an industrial cleaning firm that had some union employees. When Weiss was forced to use union labor, Wentam employees were sent.

Stagnitta faces up to 11 years in prison and possible fines. Weiss, who testified for the government, was not sentenced. Wentam was fined $10,000.

While Weiss "seemed to get off on a wash," says a Labor Dept. official, he still could be sued by union trustees.

However, the official contends that Stagnitta's actions were "the greater crime," because they violated union members' trust. Stagnitta could not be reached for comment.

Kevin E. McCormack, a special agent with Justice's organized crime and racketeering section, says the government will seek to remove Stagnitta, who still holds his union post, when he is sentenced next month.

Until then, Stagnitta's attorneys are trying to have the case thrown out on legal grounds, McCormack claims. But because of the jury verdict and what investigators consider "solid" evidence," it's not likely that the judge will overturn it," he says.

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