Friday, April 3, 2009

CEO Indicted in What's Fast Becoming Biggest Queens Corruption Probe Since the Mid-1980s by Thomas Zambito - NY Daily News...

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Brian McLaughlin

Photo:Sipkin/News /New York Daily News

A Queens electrical contractor who did big business with the city was indicted for bribery Thursday - and sources say the union boss he paid off is helping prosecutors.

Santo (Sandy) Petrocelli Sr. is accused of handing disgraced labor boss Brian McLaughlin the keys to a brand-new Crown Victoria in February 2004, an indictment unsealed yesterday in Manhattan Federal Court charged.

Two months later, McLaughlin gave the car back and took cash instead, the indictment claims.

McLaughlin is identified in the indictment as a business representative for the J Division of Local 3, the streetlight and traffic signal workers union.

Sources say the labor boss and one-time Democratic assemblyman has been cooperating with the feds since his 2006 arrest on charges he took $2.2 million in payoffs to bankroll a Long Island mansion, fancy cars and country club fees.

His sentencing repeatedly has been postponed while the feds continue to rack up indictments in what is turning into the biggest corruption probe to hit Queens since the mid-1980s. That's when Borough President Donald Manes committed suicide amid a far-reaching investigation.

Sources say McLaughlin also has been cooperating in the feds' probe of Queens Assemblyman Anthony Seminerio. The tough-on-crime Democrat is accused of taking $1 million in payouts from businesses seeking his help in Albany.

Petrocelli has been CEO of his family's Long Island City-based Petrocelli Electric since 1993.

His name has been linked before to the McLaughlin probe because of his long ties to the Democratic powerbroker.

Petrocelli organized a 2003 fund-raiser for McLaughlin attended by several firms that did business with the electrical workers union. From 1999 to 2004, McLaughlin raised $143,000 from such businesses.

Petrocelli's company was one of two contractors hired to work on what was then known as the Freedom Tower project at Ground Zero. The other is Welsbach Electric. The feds have seized records from both companies.

Petrocelli's workload has dipped since McLaughlin was nabbed. The company has not been hired by the city since November 2007.

Early last year, after Petrocelli's work on the Freedom Tower ended, the Port Authority barred Petrocelli from future contracts.

"They haven't been allowed back on the site since because we were aware of the ongoing investigation," said Port Authority spokesman Steve Coleman.