BUFFALO, NY—The United States Attorney’s Office announced today Michael J. Eddy, 45, of Gowanda, N.Y., who was convicted of extortion, was sentenced to eight months in prison, four months home confinement, and two years of supervised release by Chief U.S. District Judge William M. Skretny. The defendant was also ordered to pay $2,000 in restitution to victims.
According to Assistant U.S. Attorney Anthony M. Bruce, who handled the case, Eddy was a member of Local 17 of the International Union of Operating Engineers. The defendant was part of campaign designed to force Earth Tech, of Latham, N.Y., the low bidder on the 2005 project to remove contaminated soil on which the Buffalo Waterfront School was built, to sign a collective bargaining agreement with Local 17.
In the summer of 2005, Eddy, Local 17 President and Business Manager Mark Kirsch, Organizer James Minter, and other Local 17 members, carried out a campaign of violence and intimidation against Earth Tech in an effort to force the company to sign a collective bargaining agreement. This campaign caused Earth Tech to incur about $200,000 in additional expenses to secure the site from acts of sabotage.
Eddy was one of 12 officers and members of Local 17 arrested and charged in this case. Six defendants pleaded guilty, President Mark Kirsch was convicted at trial, four were acquitted at trial, and charges are pending against the twelfth defendant.
The investigation of this case was handled by the U.S. Department of Labor, Office of Inspector General, Office of Labor Racketeering and Fraud Investigations, under the direction of Cheryl Garcia, Special Agent-in-Charge of the New York Regional Office, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, and the New York State Police, under the direction of Major Michael Cerretto.
Big Labor’s history of using threats, violence, and property damage as a means to increasing their numbers is no secret; it is, however, something that most like to believe is a thing of the past. The Operating Engineers Local 17 is on trial to prove the contrary.
The decade between 1997 and 2007 is being hailed by federal prosecutors as the “Local 17 Criminal Enterprise” – headed by organizers Carl A. Larson and James L. Minter III, and local president Mark N. Kirsch. Larson, along with four other members of Local 17, have already pled guilty. The following is transcribed from Larson’s own account of one of his most memorable incidents. ….MORE
From The Buffalo News coverage of the trial:
“During a two-hour summation, Assistant U.S. Attorney Anthony M. Bruce compared Local 17 to a bank robber and said the breadth and scope of its criminal conduct made it almost impossible to believe former president Mark N. Kirsch’s repeated denials of any involvement.
“To say he knew nothing about what was going on is like Mark Kirsch saying he walked through a hurricane and didn’t get wet,” Bruce said at one point.” …..MORE