Former Hudson Valley Teamsters official John Ulrich was sentenced on Wednesday to 18 months in prison for shaking down a businessman for $55,000 in bribes.
Ulrich, 50, of Newburgh was a vice president of Local 812 of the International Brotherhood of Teamsters, representing 3,000 beverage industry workers in the New York region. He also was a trustee of the employee health benefit plan.
Ulrich solicited bribes from Patrick Paolucci, the owner of Crossroads Healthcare Management, a Staten Island company that administered the health plan.
The Teamsters were Paolucci’s largest client, but in 2013, according to court records, the union was looking for a new administrator, putting the Crossroads Healthcare contract at risk.
Ulrich approached Paolucci during a union meeting in Lake George, mentioned he was having financial difficulties, and offered to influence the union’s choice of administrator. The price was $5,000 every three months.
Paolucci agreed. He has since pleaded guilty to his role in the scheme and is awaiting sentencing.
In 2014, Ulrich demanded an additional $3,000 per quarter, in part, to pay off another health fund trustee.
In 2015, he demanded another $3,000 per quarter, increasing the payoff to $11,000. Paolucci balked, according to court records, and the scheme began to unravel as more people became aware of the bribes.
The Teamsters removed Ulrich as an officer and trustee in 2016.
He was indicted last year. He pleaded guilty in a plea agreement to receiving bribes to influence the health fund.
Assistant U.S. Prosecutors Eli J. Mark and Louis A. Pellegrino recommended a prison sentence of 18 to 24 months.
Ulrich’s attorney, Michael K. Burke of White Plains, recommended a sentence of six months of home confinement.
Burke cited a history of physical and psychological diseases that would put Ulrich at high risk in prison, particularly now as prisons have become a breeding ground for Covid-19.
U.S. District Judge Analisa Torres, in Manhattan federal court, sentenced Ulrich to 18 months in prison and two years of supervised release. She ordered him to forfeit $55,000 and pay restitution, and she banned him from being employed by a union or employee health plan for 13 years.