A Bronx construction worker who drove himself
deep into debt during the last four years fighting corruption
in his union won $2.5 million in the New York State Lottery yesterday.
"There's got to be a God above,"
said he worker, Mario Montuoro, who, in the process of his fight,
has accused the United States Secretary of Labor of participating
Mr. Montuoro has not worked steadily since
he was forced out of his job as an officer of his union four years
ago because, he says, he would not cooperate in cheating union
members of their benefits. "You've been beating your head against
a wall for four years," said James A. Nolan, regional director
of the lottery, as he told Mr. Montuoro of is winnings. "What
this can do is start brand new life for you." "My mind was made up about what I got
to do before this," Mr. Montuoro sic. "Money isn't my
thing. If I were greedy, I'd still be there with all the other
corrupt union officials. This money's not changing me. But all
the people who stood by me, I'm going to help them now."
Mr. Montuoro, who is 49 years old, said he
would use part of his winnings to set up a fund to help pay the
legal costs of unionists fighting corruption.
He said he would also use some of the money
to pay back the $25,000 that he has borrowed from friends and
family since he was ousted from his job as secretary-treasurer
of Local 29 of the Laborers International Union, which represents
blasters and drillers at city construction sites.
Mr. Montuoro acknowledged that his falling
out with the leaders of his union marked a break with people with
whom he had had much in common. "I was no angel," he
said. Although he has convictions for narcotics
and weapons possession, he said that "I'm going to make up
for all the bad I did."
His ouster from the union post was the beginning
of a battle with the leadership of the union-a battle that took
Mr. Montuoro to prosecutors, grand juries, newspapers and anyone else who would
listen to his stories of corruption in the union.
Partly on the basis of Mr. Montuoro's testimony,
both the president of the union, Louis Sanzo and the new secretary-treasurer,
Amadio Petito, were convicted on Federal charges.
During the investigation of his union, Mr.
Montuoro raised an additional charge: that Raymond J. Donovan,
now the Secretary of Labor, had participated in a payoff to Mr.
Sanzo during a period in which Mr. Donovan was executive vice
president of a construction company building part of a new subway
line. Those charges are being investigated by a
special grand jury, but Mr. Donovan has denied any wrongdoing
and has described Mr. Montuoro as a "damnable, contemptible
The National Labor Relations Board has ordered
Mr. Montuoro reinstated with back pay, but the union has so far
resisted. Mr. Montuoro said he would continue the fight for his
back pay and his job.