The New York Times


December 18, 1985

Two concrete contractors testified yesterday that they had been forced to pay thousands of dollars in return for labor peace to Ralph Scopo, who retired last April after seven years as president of the Cement & Concrete Workers District Council of the Laborers International Union.

The contractors, both of whom have pleaded guilty to making illegal payments to a union official, appeared in Federal District Court in Manhattan at the racketeering trial of Carmine Persico and nine other reputed leaders of the Colombo crime family.

The jobs on which the witnesses said they had kicked back 1 percent of the contract cost to Mr. Scopo often were publicly financed projects.

Among them were a library in the Parkchester section of the Bronx, a swimming pool in the Red Hook section of Brooklyn, a Police Department station house in Washington Heights and additions to the city jail on Rikers Island.

The jury also heard tapes of several conversations involving Mr. Scopo, a defendant whose trial has been severed and whom the Government has called a member of the Colombo ring. The tapes were secretly made by the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

Conversation in a Car

In one conversation on April 10, 1984, Carlo D'Arpino, secretary of the Cedric Construction Company of New Hyde Park, L.I., is heard to say that he was giving Mr. Scopo $1,500.

"How much you got here?" Mr. Scopo asked during the talk in his car on the Queens municipal parking lot at 59th Avenue and 92d Street in Elmhurst, near his office.

"Fifteen," said Mr. D'Arpino, who testified yesterday that he had handed handing the cash to Mr. Scopo.

Mr. Scopo went on to complain that Mr. D'Arpino owed "85" the witness said that was $8,500 - and that "you're never going to get it down."

In another recorded conversation on March 19, 1984, Mr. Scopo advised Mineo D'Ambrosi, general supervisor for the All-Boro Paving Company of Queens not to consider bidding on projects in excess of $2 million.

Those projects, Mr. Scopo said, are awarded to members of a "club" who "pay two points."

Mr. D'Ambrosi - who testified yesterday that he had paid $16,500 to Mr. Scopo on lesser projects after the union leader told him "everybody else does it"- asked on the tape: "Who do I got to go see? Tell me who I got to go see?"

"You got to see every family," Mr. Scopo replied. "And they're going to tell you no. So don't even bother."

Mr. D'Ambrosi then suggested that someone named Tommy might intervene for him.

"They'll tell you no," Mr. Scopo in-sisted, going on to say that he had been "through this not once, a hundred times" and that it "ain't going to do you no good."

"They're going to come back to me," Mr. Scopo said. Mr. D'Ambrosi is expected to testify about this conversation when he returns to the stand this morning.

Mr. Scopo, who is 56 years old, is charged with 11 counts of extortion and 10 counts of violating the Taft-Hartley labor laws. According to Aaron R. Marcu, an assistant United States Attorney, Mr. Scopo shared the proceeds of his extortion with members of the Colombo crime family.

Delays in Trial

But, on Dec. 3, after Mr. Scopo was hospitalized for hypertension and angina and his physician testified that the former union official was "depressed and anxious" and in need of psychiatric care, Judge John F. Keenan severed the charges against Mr. Scopo from the trial of his co defendants. The trial, now in its 10th week, had been repeatedly delayed when Mr. Scopo's blood pressure rose in court.

Mr. Scopo is also a defendant in the "commission" case that is expected to go to trial in Federal Court in Manhattan next spring. The defendants in that case include the reputed leaders of five organized-crime families in the city.

In other tapes played for the Colombo jury yesterday, Robert Sisto, a contractor, was heard to tell Mr. Scopo that he was giving him "two" on May 17, 1984, and would pay him "four" the following week.

The conversation, according to Mr. Marcu, took place in the parking lot of the Bow Wow Restaurant at 163d Avenue and Cross Bay Boulevard in Howard Beach, Queens.

Talk of More Payments

"I hope you don't think I'm collecting for Bobby," Mr. Scopo said to Mr.Sisto. His remark was not explained.

On June 26, 1984, again in that parking lot, Mr. Sisto was heard to say that he was giving Mr. Scopo "a thousand" and would "straighten up the balance" the following week.

"All right," Mr. Scopo said, "but we got to meet next week. It's got to be next week, not three weeks from now."

In a telephone conversation the previous December, Mr. Scopo was so angered at Mr. Sisto for having kept him waiting "like a fool" that he threatened to "close down" a project the next morning. Mr. Scopo shouted that he would"knock the men off the job."

Mr. D'Arpino said Mr. Scopo first had asked him for a payoff in 1982, when Cedric Construction was handling a $200,000 concrete job on the Mother Zion McMurray housing project in Manhattan.

Mr. D'Arpino said he had understood that the money would assure labor peace. He agreed to pay it, he testified, because, without workers and prompt deliveries of cement, "I'd be out of business."

The witness said Mr. Scopo had demanded 1 percent of the cost of a contract and "always seemed to know" when Mr. D'Arpino's company had been awarded a project. But Mr. D'Arpino said he had tried to convince Mr. Scopo that the contracts were worth less than they were.

In all, Mr. D'Arpino testified, he paid Mr. Scopo $9,000 in cash and $7,000 through checks made out in the names of workers whom Cedric did not employ.


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