Friday, November 19, 2010
Coke head, former union big Michael Forde gave his drug dealer union job, lavish trips and meals
The coke-snorting ex-boss of the carpenter's union put his personal drug dealer on the union payroll and treated him to lavish dinners and junkets, prosecutors have revealed.
Michael Forde faces up to 11 years in prison when he's sentenced Friday for selling out the powerful union's rank and file for his own enrichment.
Court papers filed Thursday detail the labor leader's well-known lust for the high life: fancy dinners, expensive hotels and trips to resort towns.
They also contain the bombshell allegation that Forde put his "personal cocaine supplier" on the payroll as assistant director of the union's training school.
The man, identified as Joseph Wing, accompanied Forde on "many trips and expensive dinners," Assistant U.S. Attorney Lisa Zornberg wrote in the pre-sentencing memo.
Wing was fired from his District Council of Carpenters post in 2009 - after he failed to show up for a drug test, court papers say.
Federal agents later found small amounts of cocaine in a work closet he used, prosecutors charged.
Wing could not be reached for comment last night, and Forde's lawyer declined comment.
During his reign as head of the union, Forde was notorious for drug-fueled parties at the Hudson St. headquarters.
Forde tested positive for cocaine and marijuana when he was arrested, and he entered a rehab program.
He pleaded guilty to bribery, racketeering and perjury, admitting he took kickbacks from contractors who hired nonunion labor.
Prosecutors - who wrested guilty pleas from seven other union cronies - said in their memo that Manhattan Federal Judge Victor Marrero should give Forde the maximum.
"From his earliest days as a union officer, Forde was thoroughly corrupt," Zornberg wrote.
From 1994 to 2009, he pocketed hundreds of thousands in bribes from contractors, letting honest shop stewards go without work while crooked replacements took payoffs.
Meanwhile, he ran up staggering bills on his union credit card, taking Wing and other pals on free-spending junkets to Palm Beach, Saratoga Springs, Las Vegas, Hawaii, Hilton Head, S.C., and San Juan, Zornberg wrote.
The tabs included:
$2,619 for a one-night stay in 2006 at The Breakers hotel in Palm Beach.
A $3,918 dinner for 15 at pricey Il Mulino in Manhattan for "Secretary's Day" in 2007.
A $1,226 dinner for six at a San Juan steakhouse in 2008, including $159 for a bottle of wine.
$5,072 in first-class airfare to Hawaii in 2008.
Forde's hypocrisy ran so deep that in 2006, he approved a "bad boy clause" in benefit-funds rules that reduced the medical benefits of any member caught working for a nonunion wage.
He orchestrated the removal of a federal anti-corruption monitor and used a half-million in union cash to defend himself against state charges that he took bribes.
"If Forde had any decency or humility, he would have resigned his union post in 2000 instead of squandering union funds," Zornberg wrote.
Union reformers are now trying to recoup the $500,000 in legal bills. Despite his conviction, Forde, who made $273,000 in salary last year, will get a pension of at least $128,000 a year.