Friday, October 30, 2020

Former Teamsters official sentenced to 18 months for bribery

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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.

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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.

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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.

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