Fraud, Larceny Trial Finally Opens For Ex-labor Secretary Donovan

Posted: September 10, 1986

NEW YORK — At just a few minutes after 10 yesterday morning, all in Bronx courtroom 606-A rose to their feet as state Supreme Court Justice John P. Collins strode to the bench and officially opened the much-delayed fraud and larceny trial of President Reagan's former labor secretary, Raymond J. Donovan, and eight others.

The trial's opening came just 16 days short of the second anniversary of Donovan's indictment by a Bronx grand jury on 125 counts of falsifying business records, 11 counts of "offering a false instrument for filing" and one count of grand larceny. Donovan has maintained that he is not guilty, contending that the charges were designed to embarrass Reagan.

The 102 weeks between indictment and trial had been filled with hundreds of hearings concerning 94 pre-trial defense motions.

The final such motion - to have co-defendant Ronald A. Schiavone removed

from the case because of illness - was resolved Friday when Collins agreed that the health of Schiavone, the Secaucus, N.J., construction company president, might be imperiled by the trial. Schiavone suffered a heart attack June 25. He will be tried separately Jan. 12.

The charges against Donovan and the others concern activities in 1979, before Donovan was appointed to Reagan's cabinet, when he was an official in the Schiavone Construction Co.

According to a spokesman for Bronx District Attorney Mario Merola, Donovan and the others were indicted on charges stemming from allegations that Schiavone hired a bogus minority contractor to help with a $186 million contract to build a subway tunnel under the East River for the New York City Transit Authority.

The sub-contractor, Jopel Contracting & Trucking Corp., allegedly was controlled by State Sen. Joseph L. Galiber, a black Democrat from the Bronx. In fact, prosecutors contend, Galiber was merely a front for the real controller, Bronx meatpacker William P. Masselli, an alleged soldier in New York's Genovese crime family.

In addition, prosecutors charge that more than $7 million of the money paid to Jopel was funneled back to Schiavone through an improper leasing scheme.

On trial with Donovan are Masselli, Galiber and six officials of Schiavone's construction firm.

Prospective jurors were asked yesterday to complete a questionnaire to determine any potential conflicts of interest and to gauge how much they have heard or read about the case.

The jury selection is expected to take as long as three weeks, with the entire trial lasting up to three months.

comments powered by Disqus