Monday, November 9, 2009

Ex-union official says former boss thought Bruno "would do us favors in return"

Today marks the beginning of the second week of testimony in the corruption trial of former Senate Majority Leader Joe Bruno.

The most important testimony this morning came from Mark Congi, former president and assistant business agent at the Laborers' Union Local 91 in Niagara Falls. Congi plead guilty in 2006 to racketeering and is currently serving a 15-year prison sentence. The charges are unrelated to the Bruno case.

Congia served as trustee of the union's pension fund before his indictment in 2002. He testified his former boss Michael "Butch" Quarcini, who died in 2003, said it would "be to our benefit" to let Wright Investors Service handle part of its investments. Bruno "would do us favors in return," Congi alleged Quarcini to have said.

Indeed in 2001, the union's pension fund trustees decided to give, according to Congi, a 20 percent share in their total investments.

Congi said his union had many interests before the state including trying to get money from the Dept. of Transportation for road projects and persuading an American Indian tribe to build a casino in Niagara Falls.

Congi testified he knew of Bruno's relationship with Wright, but that no one at the company
disclosed to him that Bruno was working for them.

During cross-examination, Abbe David Lowell tried to discredit the witness by suggesting he had an interest in saying these things while on the stand. Part of Congi's agreement with the government was if he cooperated he could face a reduced prison sentence. Congi replied "I'm here to be truthful," and "There's nothing I expect at all."

Check back tomorrow for highlights of this afternoon's testimony.

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