Genovese rat to finger contracting big, prosecutors say
The mob-linked head of a powerful contractors group goes on trial Tuesday in a case expected to dramatically demonstrate organized crime’s grip on the city’s construction unions.
Joseph (Rudy) Olivieri is the last of nine contracting bigwigs to face judgment in a case that’s seen District Council of Carpenters chief Michael Forde and seven cohorts plead guilty this year.
Authorities say Olivieri, 55, is a Genovese crime family soldier who headed the Association of Wall-Ceiling & Carpentry Industries. The group represents 160 contractors who employ thousands of workers.
The trial centers on Olivieri’s group, which is a force in several unions, and his role in a plot to steal millions from the carpenters’ benefit funds.
Prosecutors say he took orders from mob capo Louis Moscatiello, who ran the crime family’s construction rackets in the city. Moscatiello was set to testify against Olivieri but died last year in prison while serving time for a 2004 racketeering case.
Prosecutors have massed a parade of mobsters, ex-union officials, crooked contractors and FBI agents to show how the mob infests unions, rips off their benefit funds and pockets kickbacks to let contractors use cheap, nonunion labor.
Reputed Genovese associate Joseph Rizzuto, ex-business agent of Operating Engineers Local 14, has fingered Olivieri as the mob’s “contact person” in the union in the late 1990s.
Rizzuto is set to tell the jury how Olivieri “threatened” him and summoned him to a meeting at a LaGuardia Airport hotel after he balked at putting Moscatiello’s pick in a top union post.
Jurors also are expected to hear a 2004 recording of capo John (Buster) Ardito and several wiseguys identifying Olivieri as “a friend of Louis” with ties to longtime labor racketeer Vincent DiNapoli.
At a hearing yesterday, defense lawyer Brian Gardner tried to bar prosecutors from using sworn testimony Olivieri gave in a related civil case without warning him he was a criminal target.
Manhattan Federal Judge Victor Marrero decided Olivieri will be tried first only for perjury, one of five counts against him.