Defense Lawyer: ‘Commission’ Didn’t Control Concrete Industry
NEW YORK (AP) _ Lawyers for eight people accused of working for a ″commission″ that governed organized crime began summarizing their cases Monday, with one saying his client took payoffs from construction contractors but is not a racketeer.
The attorney for Ralph Scopo, a former labor leader and reputed Columbo crime family soldier, said his client ″is in fact guilty of accepting labor payoffs″ from two contractors.
But the attorney, John Jacobs, also told the federal court jury that his concession had ″no bearing on your deciding if he (Scopo) is guilty of the other counts.″
The main racketeering count against the defendants carries a maximum 20- year prison term upon conviction.
Scopo is one of eight reputed mobsters accused of sitting on, or working for, the so-called commission.
Prosecutors contend that since 1931, the commission has authorized high- level mob executions, settled disputes and divided territories to keep organized crime organized.
It also allegedly used mob-controlled unions to maintain a stranglehold on the city’s construction industry by extorting a cut on all contracts over $2 million in return for labor peace.
According to the government, the commission set up a ″club″ of several concrete-pouring companies that were allocated contracts for jobs over $2 million if they kicked back to the mob.
The eight defendants include three reputed organized crime family bosses who allegedly sat on the commission: Carmine ″Junior″ Persico of the Colombos, Anthony ″Fat Tony″ Salerno of the Genovese family and Anthony ″Tony Ducks″ Corallo of the Lucchese organization.
The remaining defendants, including Scopo, are accused of carrying out the commission’s orders.
Scopo, former president of the District Council of Cement and Concrete Workers, was accused of being the mob’s bagman for ″club″ contractors’ payoffs. One contractor testified he made more than $800,000 in payoffs to Scopo.
As defense lawyers stated when the trial opened in September, Jacobs conceded that there was a Mafia but he reminded the anonymous jury of seven women and five men that membership in the Mafia was not, in itself, a crime.
″The Mafia is not on trial in this case,″ said Jacobs. ″Payoffs are a way of life in the construction industry in New York City.″
Jacobs conceded individual crime family bosses may have formed a commission at one time or another, but they did not control the club and did not use fear or violence to control it.
″The myth in this case is that the so-called commission ran the club. That is the big lie,″ said Jacobs.
Earlier, another defense attorney said the prosecution’s case ″cannot stand the test of hard facts.″
That lawyer, Robert Blossner, represents Anthony Indelicato, a reputed soldier of the Bonanno organized crime family accused of participating in the 1979 gangland rubout of reputed Bonanno boss Carmine Galante and two other men.
The defense contends Indelicato was badly beaten the day Galante was killed and couldn’t have participated in the killings.
Defense summations, including that of Persico, who was serving as his own lawyer, were expected to last until midweek and be followed by the government’s rebuttal. The case then will go to the jury.