FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE FRIDAY, DECEMBER 16, 1994

CRM (202) 616-2771 TDD (202) 514-1888

UNION OFFICIAL PLEADS GUILTY IN MARINE ENGINEERS BENEFICIAL ASSOCIATION CASE WASHINGTON, D.C.--The Department of Justice today announced that a former official of the Marine Engineers Beneficial Association/National Maritime Union (MEBA/NMU) pleaded guilty to racketeering conspiracy charges in connection with his activities with the union. Donald Kenneth Masingo, 67, of Chesapeake, Virginia, and Coral Springs, Florida, entered his plea in U.S. District Court in Washington, D.C. The RICO conspiracy charge is part of an indictment returned in June 1993 in Washington D.C. against 16 officials and former officials of the MEBU/NMU. That case, US v C. Eugene "Gene" Defries, et al, is scheduled for trial on January 23, 1995. Masingo's plea agreement with the government requires him to make restitution to MEBA of $249,008.48 plus interest, which represents the severance payment he illegally received as a result of corrupt actions charged in the RICO indictment. Masingo also agreed to fully cooperate with the government. The defendant simultaneously pleaded to a criminal charge filed in Norfolk, Virginia, charging him with conspiracy to defraud the government. According to the RICO conspiracy count of the indictment, and facts admitted by Masingo, between l983 and 1991, Masingo was employed by the union as a branch agent for the Port of Baltimore and served as director of the licensed division of MEBA. Masingo, together with his co-defendants, all former MEBA officials and others, conspired to conduct the affairs of the union through a pattern of racketeering activity, including mail fraud in connection with union elections and embezzlement of some $2 million in severance payments and extortion. Masingo and his co-defendants would solicit ballots from MEBA members and then vote the ballots for themselves. The fraud also included the opening of sealed voted ballots discarding legitimate ballots, and replacing them with improperly obtained duplicates. The extortion stems from Masingo and his co-defendants obtaining ballots and contributions to the MEBA political action fund from union members through fear and economic harm. According to the criminal charges filed in Norfolk, and the facts admitted by Masingo, between 1983 and 1991, Masingo, as a MEBA branch agent for the Port of Baltimore, approved or assisted other conspirators in the approval and payment of more than $230,000 on fraudulent "expense reimbursements" filed by John C. Delullo, a MEBA representative in the Port of Norfolk, and another MEBA representative in the Pot of Charleston. By misclassifying their salaries as expenses, the two representatives received their salaries "tax free"--unreported as incomes by the union--and received more than $85,000 in pension benefits from the MEBA plans to which they were not entitled. The sentencing of Masingo has been set for June 6, 1995 in U.S. District Court in Washington, D.C.

The maximum penalty for the RICO conspiracy charge is 20 years in prison and fines up to $250,00 or twice the amount of the proceeds of the offense, whichever is higher. As to the conspiracy to defraud charge, Masingo can be sentenced to up to five years in prison and fined up to $250,000. Additionally, the sentences may be run consecutively. The sentences are subject to the federal sentencing guidelines and are likely to be less than the statutory maximum. The trial in Washington, D.C., is being handled by Sotiris A. Planzos, Richard G. Covertino and Thomas Zaccaro, trial attorneys with the Organized and Racketeering Section of the Department of Justice. The investigation in Washington, D.C., was conducted by the FBI and the Office of Labor Racketeering, U.S. Department of Labor, Office of Inspector General (DOL/IG) in Hyattsville, Maryland. The investigation in Norfolk has been conducted by the Office of Labor Racketeering, U.S. Department of Labor Inspector General (DOL/IG) in Hyattsville, Maryland, the Criminal Investigation Division of the Internal Revenue Service in Norfolk and the FBI. The case is being prosecuted there by Assistant U.S. Attorney James A. Metcalfe of Norfolk. # # # # 94-716