The United States Attorney’s Office of New York has formally accused a union leader and three members of accepting bribes in exchange for membership.
Adam Foresta, Christopher Lupino, James Sheeran and Kelwyn Benjamin, all part of the New York City Steamfitters Local 638, had allegedly “concocted a scheme to sell union memberships for thousands of dollars in cash bribes to fill their personal coffers,” said Manhattan U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara.
The accusation reveals that the alleged crime happened for over a year, starting in December 2013. The FBI recorded conversations showing that the accused offered an informant a “union book” (membership to the Steamfitters) for $40,000, including a $35,000 bribe. During the next year, another informant was offered a bribed membership – a total of $70,000 under the table.
The transaction for the first union book happened on November 3, 2014, with a promise that the other would be paid the day after. Foresta was arrested thereafter, and his colleagues were arrested in the following days.
Conspiring to commit honest services wire fraud, the official name of the accusation each member faces, carries a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison.