Before a courtroom filled with rank-and-file workers, Michael Forde, former executive secretary-treasurer of the New York District Council of the United Brotherhood of Carpenters and Joiners, was sentenced to 11 years in prison, an additional three years of supervised release and restitution. He pleaded guilty in July to participating in what Assistant U.S. Attorney Lisa Zornberg called a “mind boggling” 15-year racketeering scheme.
On July 28, 2010, Forde admitted to taking bribes from multiple contractors, helping contractors cheat the District Council Benefit Funds out of millions of dollars, rigging job assignments, lying under oath, and obstructing investigations into his conduct.
Zornberg noted that Forde “almost got away with it” because he “built a wall of lies so thick that he fooled a lot of people a long time.”
The prosecution asked for presiding U.S. District Judge Victor Marrero to impose the “top of the range” sentence allowed by the guidelines. Even this, she said, “would put him in jail a shorter time than he spent defrauding” the union rank-and-file.
A maximum sentence was essential, she said, in order for the “rank-and-file members of the Carpenters Union, who are the true victims here, to have justice.”
After stating her case, she introduced Local 608 member Eugene Clarke to make his own plea for the maximum sentence, as spectators yelled, “Go get ‘em, Gene!”
Clarke asked the judge to impose at least one day in prison for only 4,000 of the families who he said were “robbed” by Forde’s racketeering scheme.
- By Adam Klasfeld