In its brief 35 years on Huron Street at Delaware Avenue, Buffalo's 17-story federal office building has had quite a life.
It brought national attention to how organized crime once controlled construction here, helped lead to one of Buffalo's most celebrated mob hits, and may have had one of comedy's first Top Ten lists.
The Thaddeus J. Dulski Federal Office Building will soon go up for sale by the General Services Administration, a victim of the high cost of remodeling a building insulated with cancer-causing asbestos.
Although federal officials deny it is a sick building, over the last several years they moved out the 1,200 federal workers who once called Dulski home.
Whether it's bought by someone looking to rehab the building, or bring it down to build something else, the Dulski's end will be far less sensational than its beginning.
Plagued by labor strikes, a mysterious fire and a general sense that nothing was getting done, construction was late and over budget in 1970.
And then John Cammillieri showed up on the job.
"In his sharply tailored suits, pointed-toe shoes, dark glasses and pinkie ring, Cammillieri was an unlikely looking straw boss for an office building construction gang," Time Magazine wrote. "But his effect on the work force was immediate and far-reaching."
>They'd die laughing
Cammillieri, according to 1963 testimony before the U.S. Senate, was a lieutenant in the Salvatore Magaddino crime family. Magaddino was one of the original commission members of La Cosa Nostra, and ran organized crime in Buffalo and Southern Ontario from his base in Niagara Falls.
Cammillieri, a longtime member of the then-mob dominated Laborers Local 210, was also, it turns out, something of a comedian.
He immediately posted his list of the Top 10 things you don't do on his construction site, according to the Time article.
From now on, Cammillieri wrote, you go in alphabetical order.
"If you are unable to go at your time, it will be necessary to wait until the next day when your time comes again."
Absenteeism was a disgrace, he said. From now on, no excuses would do, including illness or surgery.
"We hired you as you are and to have anything removed would certainly make you less than we bargained for," according to Cammillieri's rules. "Anyone having an operation will be fired immediately."
Only death would be an excuse, he said, but workers were told to give notice of their impending doom.
"We would like two weeks notice," Cammillieri wrote, "as we feel it is your duty to teach someone else your job."
>Others not amused
Lee Coppola, the dean of the Russell J. Jandoli School of Journalism and Mass Communications at St. Bonaventure University, was a Buffalo News reporter at the time, later developing a specialty in covering organized crime.
"This was tongue in cheek, sort of a construction site joke," Coppola said of Cammillieri's list.
The newspapers and federal prosecutors instead took it seriously, he said, and saw it as a sign of how much the mob controlled the work place. Joke or not, the contractor said Cammillieri got the job back on track.
"Cammillieri kept Local 210 off my back," Paul Boyd, the construction manager told Time. "That alone was worth what we paid him. He did a job for us -- but I don't know how he did it."
When the Time piece was published, there was an immediate uproar.
The builder, J.W. Bateson Co. of Dallas, said the account was untrue. Boyd denied he ever said that about Cammillieri. The union's attorney cried foul. U.S. Attorney H. Kenneth Schroeder Jr., now a federal magistrate judge, threatened to add the Cammillieri saga to an ongoing federal investigation of Local 210.
>FBI was untrusting
Slowly, the dust settled, the building was completed for $13.5 million, and federal employees, including the FBI, moved into the new building. It was later named for former Buffalo Congressman Thaddeus J. Dulski, after he died in 1988. Coppola said the FBI was so concerned about Local 210 building their home, they swept their 14th floor offices regularly for bugging devices.
"It sounds like a romantic story," concedes FBI spokesman Paul Moskal, "but we periodically do counterintelligence sweeps as you would expect the FBI to do."
The FBI moved in 1995 from its cramped quarters in Dulski to a new headquarters building near City Hall with three times the space.
For Cammillieri, however, his time in the public spotlight may have been too bright.
Using his new notoriety, he backed Ronald Fino, the son of mobster Joe Fino, in a successful coup at Local 210, displacing the old regime and making a lot of enemies, according to Ron Fino.
That, plus those he crossed on the federal building job and his unsuccessful demand for a top position at Local 210, made him a marked man, Fino said.
Fino later testified against Local 210's leaders and helped the government effort that finally rid both the national and local laborers unions from mob influence.
>Wake proved deadly
On May 8, 1974, Cammillieri went to a friend's wake, and then went to celebrate his 63rd birthday at the Roseland, a popular restaurant on Rhode Island Street.
As Cammillieri walked from his car to Roseland's door, someone called his name. He turned and was struck down in hail of bullets.
Leo J. Donovan, then commander of the Buffalo Homicide Squad, described the shooting in classic gangland terms.
"It smacks pretty much of a planned job," Donovan told The News, "with a finger man to point him out, a trigger man who could shoot accurately in poor lighting, a wheelman who knew the streets and possibly a background man to keep an eye on the finger man."
Despite stories from time to time that police and federal officials knew who the shooters were, the crime remains unsolved.