The 2nd United States Circuit Court of Appeals ruled this week on an appeal by several convicted former bosses of the United Food and Commercial Workers Local 348 who were convicted in 2012 of various racketeering-related crimes. The appeals court upheld the convictions of former Local 348 officers John Fazio; Anthony Fazio, Sr.; and Anthony Fazio, Jr. on multiple counts, including some related to a nasty-looking extortion scheme. The convicted leaders alleged various trial improprieties; the 2nd Circuit declined to reverse any of the convictions.
The Fazios had held leadership positions in the 12,000 member local since 1976, and the U.S. Attorney alleged that they had conducted illegal activities since 1989.The Fazios, who are under orders to serve sentences ranging from five to twelve years’ imprisonment, ran a bold extortion racket, demanding side payments from employers whose employees were represented by UFCW Local 348:
The FAZIOs utilized the threat of possible labor disruptions and other means to extort annual or biannual cash payments from at least 12 employers and an administrator who handled and processed medical reimbursement claims on behalf of Local 348’s Health and Welfare Benefit Funds. The FAZIOs personally collected these secret cash payments from employers and the fund administrator. At least one employer was extorted by as much as approximately $25,000 per year by the FAZIOs, and the fund administrator was extorted by as much as $7,000 every month by the FAZIOs.
It gets worse. The Local 348 bosses allegedly backed up their extortion by loudly claiming ties to organized crime. The Second Circuit found that even if the Fazios were not in fact tied to organized crime, the actions of the bosses could create the threatening impression that they were mobbed-up. In total, each Fazio was convicted on four counts of federal crimes (involving 16 Racketeering Acts committed by at least one defendant), with John and Anthony Sr. also convicted on additional counts.
While the feds may have brought an end to the Fazios’ mob-style schemes, the UFCW continues to plug for national power. The organization—through a subsidiary front group, OUR Walmart—hopes to bring its power to the nation’s largest retailer in a worker center campaign. We’ll see if employees fall for it.