A Bloomberg Ally, Union Boss Michael Forde, Gets Hammered

Handcuffs for a carpenters' union chief

Murray's name is not mentioned in the indictment, and his attorney did not return calls. But knowledgeable sources confirm that he is the contractor referred to in the indictment as co-conspirator #1 .

Late Wednesday afternoon, eight of the 10 men charged in the case were arraigned in federal court on Pearl Street. Michael Brennan, the shop steward who had clammed up when asked about his dealings with Murray, was indicted, as was Murray's old sidekick, Finbar O'Neill. Brennan didn't get around to surrendering until a day later; as of last week, O'Neill was still at large.

Mike Forde was in Nova Scotia when the news broke, at a meeting with the president of his union's international, Douglas McCarron, and other top officials. He arrived late in the day wearing a summery, striped blue polo shirt. He slumped forward in a chair, his big chin hanging on his chest. He was released on a $750,000 bond. Lead prosecutor Lisa Zornberg also asked that the union leader be subjected to drug tests. "He tested positive today for both cocaine and marijuana," she told the judge.

Endorsable you: Bloomberg and soon-to-be-arrested union boss Forde
Screen grab from "NYC District Council of Carpenters Endorses Mike Bloomberg for Re-Election"
Endorsable you: Bloomberg and soon-to-be-arrested union boss Forde

Seated near Forde in the row of defendants was his management counterpart, Joseph "Rudy" Olivieri, director of the Association of Wall-Ceiling & Carpentry Industries. The association negotiates labor agreements and holds frequent golf outings for union officials and contractors. An old-timer in mob circles, Olivieri used to pass messages for the Genovese family's late and legendary leader, Anthony "Fat Tony" Salerno. That's according to government memos submitted in the two-decade-old civil racketeering case that alleged back in 1990 that the carpenters' union was under the mob's thumb. More recently, a witness testified at a 2006 mob trial that Olivieri threatened to bring "a world of hurt" down on those who crossed him.

Glowering at the arraignments from the gallery was Steve McInnis, the carpenters' union political director, who helped arrange the Bloomberg endorsement. At City Hall, the mayor was asked about Forde's indictment. He had a ready answer: Guilt or innocence was up to the courts, he said. But he was still "thrilled" to have the union's endorsement because, "you know it's the men and women of the carpenters' union that have endorsed me." Actually, rank-and-file carpenters had no say in Mike Forde's pick in the mayoral race. That's not how things work in the top-down union. Nor were some members waiting for the courts to decide the latest charges. "We want them out, once and for all," as one local member put it in a message.


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