Riverdale builders had ties to mob


A slew of convictions handed down last month by the United States District Court Southern District of New York confirmed that two Riverdale buildings were constructed — or in one case, half built — with mob ties.

Cambridge Mews, located at 3536 Cambridge Ave., and the now infamous and still unfinished Tulfan Terrace on Oxford Avenue have been marred by corruption and greed since their inception.

The truth finally came to light when James Murray, the developer for both buildings, testified in late October at the trial of Joseph Olivieri, at which Mr. Olivieri was convicted for lying under oath about his ties to the Genovese organized crime family.

Mr. Murray was charged with embezzling money from benefit funds, scheming to defraud the District Council and evading federal financial reporting requirements in 2006. He has had seven of his properties, including the two in Riverdale, seized by the U.S. Attorney’s Office and had already pled guilty to the charges. He was awaiting sentencing when he testified against Mr. Olivieri, who worked closely with him, including as a dry walling subcontractor for his Riverdale properties.

His conviction was part of a bigger bust that has taken down nine other men — eight union officials and a contractor — over the last year. Each pled to a variety of embezzlement, fraud and racketeering charges and admitted accepting more than $1 million in bribes and gifts for building projects around the city.

But until Mr. Murray’s testimony stuck him with a perjury conviction, Mr. Olivieri had been tough to nail.

It is unknown what deal Mr. Murray made with the U.S. Attorney’s Office for his testimony in the Olivieri trial, but during the trial, he said he hoped to get probation.

Mr. Olivieri testified in 2007 that he had no relationship with Mr. Murray, but Mr. Murray took the stand last month and detailed how he and Mr. Olivieri schemed together.

They used non-union labor, made up of mostly Irish legal and illegal immigrants and paid workers in Riverdale and elsewhere far less than union wages, which run up to $100 per hour. Instead they paid $30 to $40 in cash per hour and provided no benefits.

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