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Local 91 figure files guilty plea

A Laborers Local 91 executive board member has pleaded guilty to charges relating to property sabotage against non-union companies and tradespeople working in Niagara County.

Patrick McKeown, 58, of Niagara Falls, pleaded guilty to federal racketeering conspiracy charges, according to acting U.S. Attorney Kathleen L. Mehltretter. The plea was entered in the courtroom of U.S. District Judge Richard J. Arcara, who is scheduled to sentence McKeown on March 22.

The maximum penalty on the racketeering charge is 20 years in prison and a $250,000 fine.

Fourteen leaders and members of Local 91 were indicted after a six-year investigation by local, state and federal authorities, and five of them have been convicted. A former Local 91 business manager, Michael "Butch" Quarcini, died in 2003.

Four other defendants are scheduled to go on trial in January.

While the allegations of beatings, threats and destruction were many, federal authorities said McKeown's plea includes admissions to two particular incidents: the destruction of a landfill liner -- roughly the size of four football fields -- installed by a non-union company at the Browning Ferris Industries landfill in the Town of Niagara and the destruction of construction equipment used by a non-union company at the Ordnance Works on Balmer Road, Lewiston.

Authorities noted that McKeown's brother, James, previously was convicted. James McKeown, 49, a Local 91 laborer, admitted trying to destroy a food service truck and injure its driver while picketing at a Niagara Falls hotel in 1998.

Both McKeowns have agreed to cooperate in the government's continuing investigation, authorities said.

e-mail: citydesk@buffnews.com

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