2006-08-18 / Community

Trial Date Set In Federal Court For Local Contractor

By Howard Schwach

A federal court judge last week set an April 2007 trial date for a local man charged with years of illegal payments to union officials. The indictment, which was handed down in December of 2004, charges conspiracy, mail fraud and violations of the Taft-Hartley Act, a spokesperson for the Eastern District of New York told The Wave.

Belle Harbor resident Dino Tomassetti, the president of Laquila Construction Company, is specifically charged with making cash payments to business agents and business managers of Locals 14 and 15 of the International Union of Operating Engineers from 1991 to 2001.

Prosecutors in the case say that the contractor made the payment to the union officials in return for their cooperation in violating the collective bargaining agreement by using fewer workers or paying less overtime than required in the contract. The prosecutors say that the payments totaled hundreds of thousands of dollars over the decade that were made by Tommassetti and unnamed others.

David N. Kelley, the United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York said that Tomassetti is facing five years in prison if he is found guilty of all the charges in the indictment.

Tomassetti has denied all of the charges and has pled not guilty.

"Mr. Tomassetti is prepared to defend himself to the fullest extent possible," Angelo Sisca, the long-time chief of operations for Laquila reportedly told Charles V. Gagli, a reporter for the New York Times. "He will be found not guilty."

Federal prosecutors and testimony have linked him, however, to organized crime figures and his companies have been banned from obtaining city contracts. One Laquila company was reportedly fined for its part in a scheme organized by a member of the Gambino crime family to dump construction debris illegally in New Jersey.

The case is drawing unusual media attention because Laquila Construction Company is heavily involved in the development process at Ground Zero in lower Manhattan despite the city's ban on the company receiving contracts.

In fact, the central contract for excavation and foundation work for the Freedom Tower was awarded to his youngest son, Dino Tomassetti, Jr., who lives in Hewlett in Nassau County.

A spokesperson for Larry Silverstein, who is building the tower, told Bagli that he believes there is nothing wrong with giving the prime contract to the younger Tomassetti.

He told the reporter that hiring the son and his company, Laquila Group, was a way to take advantage of the company's expertise while avoiding doing business directly with the father.

According to that spokesperson, the elder Tomassetti will not earn a penny on the Freedom Tower development and will be barred from participating in the development.

While the senior Tomessetti will be barred from even visiting Ground Zero while his son's company is working there, he is not the only person at the construction company who has had problems with the courts.

In 1997, Sisca reportedly pled guilty to filing false documents in connection with a plan to pump up the company's profits on a job at the Elmhurst Hospital Center in Queens.

The trial is set to begin on April 10, 2007.

Neither the elder Tommasetti nor a spokesperson for Laquila was available for comment to The Wave.

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