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CONNECTICUT LABORERS DISTRICT COUNCIL

 


Laborers union leader drops suit against dissident


By Alex Wood
Journal Inquirer

#The top official of Laborers' Local 230, who had filed a civil lawsuit
accusing a dissident union member of illegally tape-recording
conversations, defamation, and other wrongful acts, has withdrawn the
suit.

#Stephen Manos of Glastonbury, the union dissident who was named as
defendant in the suit, says he paid ``absolutely zero'' to the
plaintiff, union Business Manager Charles LeConche, to settle the case.

#Manos said his only concession was that he agreed not to file a
countersuit against LeConche's lawyer, Patrick Tomasiewicz of West
Hartford.

#Manos and two other dissident laborers, William Cooksey and Gary Wall,
are suing LeConche and other officials of the Hartford-based local,
charging them with violating the federal Racketeer Influenced and
Corrupt Organizations Act. That suit remains pending in U.S. District
Court in Bridgeport and isn't affected by the settlement.

#Neither LeConche nor Tomasiewicz could be reached for comment Friday.
But East Hartford lawyer John T. Fussell, who represents the local, said
LeConche withdrew the suit because Manos has retired.

#``It makes no sense to expend more resources on the matter at this
stage of the game,'' Fussell said. ``The issue's over.''

#The lawsuit grew out of a heated union election campaign in 1997 and
1998. Manos challenged LeConche for the top job in the local, which
represents about 900 laborers in north-central Connecticut.

#Manos secretly tape recorded a July 30, 1997, meeting of the union's
executive board at Capriccio Ristorante on Franklin Avenue in Hartford,
during which he says he was assaulted by LeConche and another union
official.

#Manos says the tape of the incident is posted on the Internet. In a
partial transcript of the tape, he quotes LeConche as telling him, in
obscenity-laced language, ``Steve, you're about that ... close from me
ripping your ... throat out personally.''

#Manos says in the transcript that LeConche threw a napkin at him,
hitting him in the chest, and rushed at him but was restrained by two
union officials. But he says another union official threw him over a
chair and onto the floor, then threw him out the side door of the
restaurant.

#Manos complained to Hartford police about the incident, but they didn't
bring charges, saying they closed the investigation for lack of
evidence.

#LeConche charged in the lawsuit that Manos had requested permission to
tape record the meeting of the executive board | and that the board had
denied the request. He said Manos violated the board's instructions by
surreptitiously taping the meeting.

#LeConche also accused Manos of making a ``calculated effort to entice
an altercation'' which he secretly recorded ``out of context of the
ongoing relationship between the plaintiff and the defendant.''

#In addition, LeConche charged Manos with defamation, saying he had made
unspecified false statements to the FBI, Hartford police, several other
government agencies, and various media outlets, including the Journal
Inquirer.

#The union leader also accused Manos of making ``unfounded allegations
of criminal conduct'' before a congressional subcommittee that heard him
testify in May 1998, less than two months before the union election.

#Manos lost the June 1998 election. Its results were later overturned by
the international union's independent hearing officer, who found that
LeConche and his supporters had engaged in improper campaign practices,
including use of the union's newsletter in campaigning.

#But LeConche and his slate were re-elected without opposition this
year, Manos has said in an affidavit. Manos said he was unable to run
this year because he had retired shortly after his defeat in last year's
election.

#In a statement, Manos, who represented himself in the case, described
LeConche's lawsuit as ``bogus.''

#He pointedly included copies of subpoenas showing that LeConche and
another union official were scheduled to give depositions Friday |
along with a court document showing that the suit was withdrawn
Wednesday.


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