Get Liberated ! - not regulated 

Ex-prison guard avoids prison 

By ANDREW TILGHMAN, Staff writer
First published: Thursday, September 26, 2002

A federal judge agreed to an unusually lenient sentence for a former labor leader who scammed thousands of dollars from his union, letting the one-time head of Council 82 off without a prison sentence.

Lawrence Germano, 55, who lives on Long Island and works as a truck driver, pleaded guilty last year to a single felony count of mail fraud. He and two of his brothers-in-law admitted to stealing up to $120,000 from the union in a fraudulent computer equipment contract.

Germano's sentencing comes near the end of a series of investigations and scandals that splintered the once-powerful union, prompting its largest contingent, the state's prison guards, to break away, leaving Council 82 with just a fraction of its membership.

Despite years of investigations, Germano was the only union official to face criminal charges in the scandal that involved top union leaders accused of financial mismanagement and using union funds for out-of-state trips and visits to strip bars.


Germano's brothers-in-law, Anthony Pizzolo, 51, and Ronald Pizzolo, 65, of Long Island, also pleaded guilty to mail fraud and are scheduled to be sentenced in Albany on Wednesday. ran a computer firm that illegally benefited from a union contract. They face up to five years in prison.

In 1995, federal investigators launched a probe into the Albany-based union, which had 26,000 members and an annual budget of about $8 million. Two other union leaders -- former Executive Director Joseph Puma and former President Thomas Kennedy -- were ousted after a union investigation, but no criminal charges were filed.


Puma, the former union leader, retired from the state Department of Correctional Services in May. He had been elected in 1999 to serve as a NYSCOPBA union steward at the Coxsackie Correctional Facility. Kennedy retired in 1996 from his post at Great Meadow Correctional Facility in Comstock.

Germano served as a corrections sergeant at Sing Sing prison in Ossining until 1984, when he became a full-time union officer, making $86,000 a year as associate director.

After the union's financial crisis became public, Germano was elected executive director in June 1995 to help the union address its problems. But he was removed soon afterward when the group's parent union, the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, took control later that year.

"There were a lot of people who trusted Larry Germano," said Richard Stevens, the staff director at Council 82 in Albany. "That, in retrospect, was unwarranted."

Submitted by: Werner Hetzner 

Source: Albany Times Union  9/26/02




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