Carpenters Union Big Goes Back on Trial for Bribery


What may be the city’s longest running bribery case is back in court this week — ten years after the alleged crime was committed.

Mike Forde, executive secretary of the 25,000-member New York District Council of Carpenters was charged back in 2000 with taking a $50,000 bribe from a mobbed up contractor while dining in 1998 at a midtown Hooter’s restaurant.

Forde didn’t go to trial on those charges until 2004 when he was convicted, along with union business agent Martin Devereaux, of taking cash to allow the builder to violate union work rules during the renovation of the Park Central Hotel on Seventh Avenue.

But the trial judge later overturned the conviction, stating that jurors had improperly discussed the case during deliberations. The judge also said jurors had read an article about it —in the Voice!(“A Mob Soprano Sings“, April 13, 2004).

So yesterday Forde and Devereaux were once again facing a jury, as lawyers delivered opening summations.

Manhattan assistant district attorney Michael Scotto, who tried the first case, said the state would prove both men had sold out their membership for money. Rod Lankler, representing Forde, said key witness Sean Richards, a contractor whose father in law was a New Jersey mobster, “was a man who would do anything to avoid his obligations.”

Lawyer Michael Dowd, who is also on his second time around on the case, represents Devereaux. “This is a case based on fabrications,” Dowd told the jury.

The trial is expected to take three to four weeks.