The former head of a Long Island City-based electric company that hired union workers represented by disgraced former Assemblyman Brian McLaughlin (D-Flushing) pleaded guilty Friday to making tens of thousands of dollars in illegal payments to the corrupt ex-legislator, the U.S. attorney’s office in Manhattan said.
Santo Petrocelli Sr., the former owner and chairman of Petrocelli Electric Company, headquartered at 22-09 Queens Plaza North, faces up to five years in prison after pleading guilty to making an unlawful payment to a labor representative, the U.S. attorney’s office said.
McLaughlin, the former chief of the Central Labor Council, began serving a 10-year sentence earlier this month in a North Carolina federal prison after pleading guilty to racketeering charges that included embezzlement and taking bribes. He stole $2.2 million in funds from the Electchester Little League and his campaign account, among other groups.
U.S. District Court Judge Miriam Goldman Cederbaum is scheduled to sentence Petrocelli Nov. 5.
When the payments were made in 2004, McLaughlin was a labor representative for Local 3 of the International Brotherhood of Electric Workers, some of whom were employed by Petrocelli, federal prosecutors said. McLaughlin was also an assemblyman during that period.
The tens of thousands of dollars in payments Petrocelli made to McLaughlin included cash and the use of a Petrocelli Electric Company car, the U.S. attorney’s office said.
The guilty plea marked the first time prosecutors publicly identified McLaughlin’s role in the case. In its charges against Petrocelli, prosecutors only referred to the person Petrocelli made the payments to as a“business representative of Local 3 of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers.”
Petrocelli left the company in 2006 and federal prosecutors said it would not pursue criminal charges against the firm, in part because of its former owner’s guilty plea and “the negative effect that charges against PEC would have on the company’s innocent employees and legitimate activities.”
Reach reporter Howard Koplowitz by e-mail at hkoplowitz
©2009 Community News Group
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