Union’s president found guilty of racketeering conspiracy

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HAMBURG, N.Y. (WIVB) – The president and business manager of a WNY union has been convicted of racketeering conspiracy, conspiracy to commit extortion and attempted extortion.

A federal jury found Mark Kirsch guilty on Friday. The 54-year-old is in charge of Operating Engineers Local 17, which is based in Hamburg, and from at least January 1997 through December 2007 took part in a criminal enterprise to extort property from various construction firms throughout WNY. That property included wages and benefits paid by businesses for unwanted, unnecessary and superfluous labor; labor contracts; jobs at various construction sites; and the right of businesses to make decisions free from outside pressure.

To get what he wanted, Kirsch used actual violence, threats, intimidation, sabotage of property, as well as threats and attempts to interrupt or delay construction projects in order to drive up costs.

He could face a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison when he is sentenced.

Retired Local 17 business representative Gerald Bove, member Michael Caggiano, member Kenneth Edbauer, and business representative Thomas Freedenberg, were acquitted of similar charges.

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