Auditors are checking the books of the city's blue-collar union following a complaint of financial irregularities against veteran union leader John Scardino, officials said today.
The audit follows a demand by Scardino that he be suspended as president of Local 264 of the American State, County and Municipal Employees pending outcome of the internal investigation.
"I'll have a lot to say when it's over," Scardino said. "Whatever allegations are made . . . I felt it was best for the union and the executive board that they suspend me pending an investigation by an outside auditor and the international union."
City officials said Scardino, who has led the union for a decade, became aware of a complaint by a member earlier this month that he had mishandled union funds. He then immediately contacted local Secretary-Treasurer Lawrence A. Panaro, demanding to be suspended without pay.
"At first they (board members) were reluctant . . . My number one concern is that the members believe in the local and that the local would continue servicing the members," Scardino said.
Scardino and another local official declined to describe the allegation, except to say it named Scardino as being involved in a misappropriation of funds. No formal complaint has been forwarded to the local, officials said.
"I said that if I'm found to have been involved in anything, I would repay the funds," Scardino said.
Other union sources downplayed the allegation, saying there appeared to be no evidence of wrongdoing by Scardino.
Widely regarded as a tough, but reasonable union chief, Scardino last year led the union through a work slowdown to protest new city work rules for garbage workers.
His suspension is expected to end on Oct. 2.
David Christopher, local first vice president, said he expects Scardino's pay to be reinstated by union leaders if the audit shows there were no irregularities.