U.S. Department of Justice
United States Attorney
District of Rhode Island
November 13, 2009
Probation, fines imposed on union officials,
contractor, in illegal payment scheme
A federal judge has sentenced two former union officials and a contractor to probation and fined the union officials for participating in a scheme to funnel illegal payments to the union officials.
United States Attorney Peter F. Neronha and Assistant Attorney General Lanny A. Breuer of the Department of Justice Criminal Division announced the sentences, which U.S. District Court Judge William E. Smith imposed yesterday in U.S. District Court, Providence.
Judge Smith sentenced Nicholas Manocchio, the former director of the New England Regional Organizing Fund (NEROF) of the Laborers International Union of North America (LIUNA), to three years probation and fined him $2,500. He sentenced Harold Tillinghast, a former NEROF organizer, and Gerald Diodati, a construction contractor, to two years probation and fined Tillinghast $4,500.
Judge Smith also barred Manocchio and Tillinghast from seeking employment with a labor union or any affiliated pension or benefit fund for three years.
All three defendants pleaded guilty to their roles in the payment scheme. At the plea hearings, Trial Attorney Vincent Falvo of the Justice Department’s Organized Crime and Racketeering Section said that, if the case went to trial, the government would prove that the defendants engaged in a conspiracy to direct cash payments and other things of value from Hemphill Construction and Rhode Island Demolition to LIUNA officials and employees.
Federal law prohibits employers from paying money or other things of value to “any labor organization, or any officer or employee thereof which represents, seeks to represent, or would
admit to membership, any employees of such employer.” LIUNA represents employees in the building and construction industry. Diodati was an estimator for Hemphill Construction, and owned and operated Rhode Island Demolition.
Beginning in April 2003, Tillinghast conspired with Diodati to accept things of value from Diodati and others who Tillinghast believed were acting in the interest of Hemphill Construction and Rhode Island Demolition. In May 2003, Diodati and another person acting on behalf of Hemphill Construction gave Tillinghast $2,000 in cash. In December 2003, a person acting in the interest of Hemphill Construction gave Tillinghast $500.
Also in December 2003, Manocchio and Tillinghast agreed that Manocchio would receive a “Christmas card” from a person acting for Hemphill Construction and Rhode Island Demolition. On December 22, Tillinghast met with a person representing Hemphill Construction and accepted a cash payment of $2,000 in a Christmas card for Manocchio, which he later gave to Manocchio in Manocchio’s office.
The Federal Bureau of Investigation, the U.S. Department of Labor, Rhode Island State Police, and Providence Police conducted the investigation leading up to the indictment. Trial Attorney Falvo prosecuted the case.