Indictment Beats the Alternative for School Bus Union Bigs

The feds dropped the hammer on two former officials of Local 1181 of the school bus workers' union yesterday, part of a probe that has already taken down the local's top officers in recent years along with several city education department officials.

But for Nick and Paul Maddalone -- a pair of brothers charged yesterday with extorting bribes from bus operators -- indictment beats the alternative. In March, 2008, the Voice reported about how poorly the Maddalone boys fared in negotiations to become the local's top officers with the union's secret boss, the great Genovese crime family captain Matthew "Matty the Horse" Ianniello.

At a sitdown at Don Peppe's, an Ozone Park restaurant near union headquarters and owned by another Genovese big, Ianniello told Paul Maddalone that he didn't think his brother Nick was up to par, so to speak, in Mafia terms. Or as another ex-union official later told the FBI: "Ianniello stated, 'Your brother is a piece of shit.' "

This still didn't stop the brothers from serving as high paid officials of the local -- $114,000 apiece -- even after the national union put the local in trusteeship. The smart money in the union was that Paul Maddalone, a savvy insider, would be elected the next president, succeeding Salvatore "Hot Dogs" Battaglia, the now imprisoned ex-leader doing 57 months for racketeering. After the Voice story ran, however, attorneys for the local asked the Maddalones about their discussions with Ianniello and others. When their answers failed to satisfy, the brothers got their walking papers.

The Maddalones face 20 years on the extortion rap. Their old pal, Michael Cordiello, who was elected the local's new president earlier this spring, had no comment for The Times yesterday when reporter Paul von Zielbauer called to ask.

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