One of New York's top construction union officials was arrested on Thursday for allegedly selling out his own union members for wads of cash and an ice dispenser.
James Cahill, the president of the New York State Building and Construction Trades Council, which represents over 200,000 unionized construction workers, stands accused of "accepting bribes to favor non-union employers and corruptly influence the construction trade," according to the Department of Justice.
Cahill and his associates collected more than $100,000 in bribes over the last two years in exchange for "protection and assistance" from Local 638, a union with jurisdiction over pipe fitting in New York City and Long Island, prosecutors said.
Ten other union officials with the Local 638 and Local 200 — all of whom were allegedly recruited by Cahill for the enterprise — were also indicted.
"Welcome to the real world," Cahill allegedly told defendant Patrick Hill, after setting up a meeting with an unnamed non-union employer, who paid each a $2,500 bribe.
"I give you Paddy," Cahill later told the employer, referring to Hill. "But if Paddy fucks up and does stupid things, you have to tell me . . . I got my guys, I got the guys who come to me, and you know that, and everyone knows who comes to me.”
The conversations were obtained as part of a two-year wiretap investigation, which uncovered "a shocking level of greed and corruption," Suffolk County District Attorney Timothy Sini said in statement.
On top of cash bribes, Cahill and his members also allegedly accepted loans that were never repaid, free meals, labor, and even home appliances. According to the complaint, Cahill had a "longstanding demand that [the non-union employer] purchase and install an ice machine" in his house.
"Take this with you in case you forget. I'm waiting two fucking summers," Cahill told the employer this past May, providing him a photo of the ice machine.
Cahill and his associates were each charged with racketeering conspiracy, honest services fraud conspiracy, and conspiracy to violate the Taft-Hartley Act. The top charge carries a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison.
Attorneys for Cahill could not be reached. Inquiries to the New York State Trades Council and Local 638 were not immediately returned.