A Mob Soprano Sings

Tough guys, cold cash, and an old hotel: bribery charges haunt carpenters' chief

An irate Richard immediately faxed a letter to the president of the international carpenters' union, complaining that the raiders had behaved like "storm troopers." He asked that O'Neill be barred from dealing with his firm, since "we have been dealing with Michael Ford [sic], president of Local 608, [with] whom we are in good standing."

Grilled on cross-examination by defense attorneys Dino Lombardi and Michael Dowd, Richard admitted that he had embarked on a Soprano-esque orgy of consumption around that time. While his wife was giving birth to two daughters, he spent thousands of dollars on cocaine, gambling, and strippers. He bought a $4,000 bracelet for a girlfriend, and though he recalled the bracelet, he couldn't be sure of the girlfriend because he was seeing "a couple of women at the time." He was a regular at the Plaza's Oak Room, where he consumed cold seafood and "sang a Sinatra tune or two" with the piano player.

The party ended only after he got a formal notice from the district attorney in the late summer of 1999 informing him that detectives had been listening to his cell phone conversations for more than a year. He went to the authorities with an offer: "I can give you names on a silver platter," he told the D.A. He was placed in the witness protection program, where the government has spent an estimated $500,000 on his needs, according to a figure supplied at the trial by prosecutors.

Richard was followed on the stand by Vincent McIntyre, the nervous shop steward sent to the Park Central. Like Richard, McIntyre is also from the Bronx, but there the similarities ended. In a soft voice, his eyes shyly dropping to the floor between questions, McIntyre explained that he had never been a shop steward, and had received no training for the post before Devereaux sent him to the hotel. On the job, when he tried to go upstairs to see if workers had union cards, some tough men brusquely ordered him to "get back downstairs." He stayed in the lobby, where he filled out the shop steward reports as best he could, listing the half-dozen workers who had union cards. Devereaux showed up on the job about once a week, but when McIntyre told the business agent about the problems, he testified, Devereaux assured him "he would take care of it," and to just hold on to the reports for the time being. When O'Neill and the union's raiders arrived in June, he retrieved the steward reports from his knapsack, where he had stuffed them.

There was no witness protection program for McIntyre, however. A carpenter for eight years, he left the union after the incident and today works as a doorman. The trial continues this week.

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