Want to be a member of the New York carpenters union? Pay me first. That was the route Salvatore Tagliaferro, the president of Local 926, a Brooklyn-based union tied to the United Brotherhood of Carpenters and Joiners in America and John “Cigars” Defalco, the vice president of local 127 in Manhattan, tied to the same union, chose to follow. Beginning their antics in 2017, the two men were accused of demanding bribes from interested members.
Authorities stated to the New York Daily News, the leader was Defalco. He would target potential members and solicit bribes from them – often up to $1,500. Once Defalco had obtained the bribe money, he would transfer the prospective members names to Tagliaferro, who used his position to his advantage. Tagliaferro would accept hundreds of these individuals into the local 926 chapter and secure union cards for them.
How to respond if a union leader attempts to shake you down
If a union leader approaches you with potential union opportunity, it may seem like a silver lining, but don’t accept it. This union boss is trying to solicit a bribe. He’s taking advantage of your desire to be a part of the brotherhood a union can provide to gain an illegal profit.
Bribes are illegal, and even though you may receive a union card and gain membership, it may not be long-lasting due to the illegal tactics performed by the union leader. If you experience this precarious situation and are seeking guidance, seek out an attorney who has experience working with union members.
The cover-up and proceeding charges
Both Defalco and Tagliaferro tried to cover up their crimes. For Defalco, his efforts didn’t obtain the result he would have hoped. Authorities discovered $150,000 in Ziploc bags in the attic of his vacation home while performing a search warrant.
The two men have been charged with wire fraud, conspiracy and conversion of union assets. Both union leaders face up to 20 years in prison for the wire fraud charge alone. On behalf of their attorneys, Defalco and Tagliaferro deny the charges.