Union Official Roland Bedwell Cited His Organized Crime Ties In Threats to Disrupt Construction Projects
A federal judge sentenced Roland Bedwell from United Plant and Production Workers Local 175 to five years in prison and three years of supervised release. The union official pleaded guilty to extorting money from several construction business owners.
United States Attorney for the Eastern District of New York Richard P. Donoghue stated:
Unions exist to protect workers not to serve as vehicles for extortion. This sentence ends Bedwell’s career of extorting business owners and sends a clear message that others who attempt do so will suffer the same fate. This Office is committed to protecting hard-working business owners and ensuring that unions are not turned into criminal organizations.
FBI Assistant Director-in-Charge Sweeney also stated:
This case illustrates how extortion and threats stopped progress at a public works project at one of the busiest airports in our region. The subject boasted about how he didn’t understand why he wasn’t in jail. After an outstanding investigation, that’s exactly where he is going.
Federal Prosecutors alleged Bedwell threatened business owners with physical harm if they did not sign union agreements with Local 175.
Union Official Brags About His Muscle And Ties To The Gambino Family
Federal prosecutors had a recording of Bedwell extorting money from a business owner in a Queens restaurant. Bedwell described to the victim the financial pain he had previously inflicted on other businesses.
The union official described how he had a delivery truck transporting trees blocked long enough for the trees to die.
Bedwell also warned the business owner he would use a crew of 15 “ex-military” men to interfere with the victim’s business. He added that these men weren’t afraid of prison and would cost the company a “tremendous amount of money.”
The business owner recorded Bedwell saying:
The business owner relented, making his workers sign with Local 175.
The union official also admitted that he attempted to extort another construction business owner. He threatened to block asphalt deliveries to a job site at LaGuardia Airport if the business owner did not agree to employ the union. When the owner refused to sign an agreement with Local 175, Bedwell and his co-conspirators stopped the asphalt-delivery trucks, harassed the drivers and slashed their tires.
Bedwell also referred to his ties to a member and then-associate of the Gambino crime family. He would also boast of his own reputation as a “muscle man” to intimidate businesses into signing labor contracts. Bedwell’s co-conspirators physically assaulted workers associated with contractors who refused to sign with Local 175.