Traitz Asks Lawyer, '5, Right?' Roofers Tapes Played For Jury

Posted: June 09, 1989

Twice in December 1985, lawyer Herbert K. Fisher allegedly dropped off money to Roofers Union business manager Stephen J. Traitz Jr., according to recorded conversations played to a federal jury yesterday.

On a third occasion, Dec. 9, 1985, a conversation was taped in which a former Roofers Union associate spoke about having just picked up money from the law firm of Bloom, Ocks & Fisher.

Fisher and his law partner, Herman Bloom, are on trial on federal racketeering, conspiracy and embezzlement charges. They are accused of scheming with the Roofers Union to kick back to Traitz and other union officials 10 percent of the fees they received in order to keep the union's legal business.

The Center City law firm was retained by Roofers Union Local 30-30B from the late 1970s through the mid-1980s to provide free legal services to union members under a prepaid legal-services benefit plan.

The prosecution contends that Fisher and Bloom willingly paid kickbacks in order to keep the Roofers Union as a client. Traitz and other union officials, now in prison on federal racketeering convictions, used the kickback money to bribe more than 40 public officials, including Philadelphia judges.

The defense says Fisher and Bloom were forced to make the payoffs under threats from Traitz.

A LIST OF OFFICIALS

On a Dec. 3, 1985, tape-recording made secretly by the FBI with court permission, Traitz and Fisher are heard going over a list of judges and other public officials.

"Now you, you recognize some of them names?" Traitz asks.

"Yeah. Oh, do I, yeah," Fisher replies.

Then Traitz says to Fisher, "Just give me it. Five, right? . . . Five here?" The prosecution contends this was a reference to $5,000 that Fisher had just handed Traitz.

Later, Traitz says to Fisher, "Please get me that other before Christmas, counselor."

Fisher replies: "You have to wait for it."

"Please," Traitz says.

"Because of debt," Fisher responds.

Traitz says, " . . . I owed these guys. . . . I just got a call from a couple of the judges. They're goin' away. You know what that is."

"Steve, you don't have to tell me anything," Fisher says.

Later that day, Traitz and former union business agent Michael "Nails" Mangini could be heard counting the money. They discussed delivering the money to people and told an office secretary to get gift envelopes.

ANOTHER $5,000 PAYMENT

The jury heard a Dec. 9, 1985, tape of Traitz directing Mangini to go to the law offices of Bloom, Ocks & Fisher. A few minutes after Mangini and Robert Crosley, a vice president, returned to the union offices, they are heard discussing and dividing the $5,000 just obtained.

Fisher allegedly returned to the union offices Dec. 17, 1985, to deliver a final $5,000 payment to Traitz.

"You've seen Fisher, right?" Traitz says to Mangini. "Right, yeah," Mangini replies, noting that Traitz's secretary, Tina Collins, had the money.

Later on Dec. 17, Fisher met with Traitz at the union office, and the two discussed increasing the fees paid to Bloom, Ocks & Fisher. Traitz told Fisher he would try to get the firm more legal fees. "Now you, Bloom and Ocks . . . are the main-event fighters," Traitz told Fisher.

Bloom was not mentioned on any of the 16 tapes played in court yesterday. In the 33 tapes to be played during the trial, Bloom was present during only one tape-recorded meeting at the union offices with Fisher and Traitz, on Nov. 21, 1985.

Fisher, 62, and Bloom, 64, are charged with racketeering, racketeering conspiracy, offering and paying kickbacks and aiding and abetting embezzlement by union officials from an employee benefit plan.

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