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September 14, 2006

AMO officials indicted on racketeering counts

R. Alexander Acosta, United States Attorney for the Southern District of Florida, and Gordon S. Heddell, Inspector General, United States Department of Labor, today announced the unsealing of a thirteen-count (13) labor racketeering Indictment returned by a federal grand jury sitting in Miami, Florida. Charged in the Indictment are defendants, Michael McKay, 58, of Dania Beach, Robert McKay, 55, of Dania Beach, Phillip Ciccarelli, 64, of Delray Beach, and James Lynch, 55, of Dania Beach.

Count 1 of the Indictment charges Michael McKay, the National President of the American Maritime Officers ("AMO")Union, Robert McKay, the National Secretary-Treasurer of the AMO Union, Phillip Ciccarelli, a former employee of the AMO Benefit Plans, and James Lynch, an employee of the AMO Union, with conspiring to participate in the affairs of a racketeering enterprise by committing multiple acts involving theft and embezzlement from the AMO Union and the AMO Benefit Plans, graft, obstruction of justice, witness tampering, mail fraud, and honest services fraud.

Michael McKay is further charged with embezzlement from the AMO Benefit Plans (Count 2), mail fraud (Counts 4, 9, and 10), falsification of records pertaining to the AMO Benefit Plans (Count 11), and failure to maintain records required by the Labor Management and Reporting Disclosure Act ( "LMRDA") (Count 12).

Robert McKay is further charged with mail fraud (Counts 4 and 9), embezzlement from the AMO Union (Count 8), failure to maintain records required by the LMRDA (Count 12), and falsification of records required by the LMRDA (Count 13). Phillip Ciccarelli is further charged with witness tampering (Count 3), mail fraud (Count 5), and graft affecting the AMO Benefit Plans (Counts 6 and 7).

AMO, headquartered in Dania Beach, Florida, represents approximately 4,000 licensed maritime officers serving aboard vessels in the United States-flag merchant fleet, including ocean-going, Great Lakes, inland waters, military support, and cruise vessels.

According to the racketeering conspiracy charged in the Indictment, Michael and Robert McKay conspired to rig AMO Union elections in 1993 and 1996, and AMO Union constitutional referendums in 1995 and 1999, by stuffing the ballot box and stealing and destroying ballots cast for their opponents and against the referendums that they supported.

The Indictment charges the defendants with conspiring to embezzle money from the AMO Benefit Plans to pay for hockey tickets, cigars, commemorative china, and personal boat repairs.

The Indictment also charges that the defendants conspired to embezzle money from the AMO Benefit Plans by approving free housing and room stays for themselves, their family members and guests, and other AMO Union employees and officials, in houses and rooms leased by the AMO Benefit Plans at the AMO Union complex in Dania Beach, Florida.

The Indictment further charges the defendants with conspiring to embezzle AMO Union and Benefit Plans funds by paying cash and bonuses to reimburse AMO Union and Benefit Plans officials and employees for political campaign contributions made to local and federal candidates designated by Michael McKay.

Defendants Michael McKay, Robert McKay, and James Lynch are also charged with conspiring to embezzle money from the AMO Union and Benefit Plans by submitting fraudulent expense vouchers.

United States Attorney R. Alexander Acosta stated, "Protecting the integrity of our unions promotes the welfare of American workers. We will continue to aggressively prosecute those individuals who abuse their positions of trust for their own personal and financial benefit."

Department of Labor Inspector General Heddell said, "Control of unions by corrupt leaders results in the victimization of its members. This indictment reinforces our efforts to abate the longstanding domination of the American Maritime Officers Union. We will continue to work closely with other law enforcement agencies to expose and bring an end to union corruption and labor racketeering."

If convicted, the defendants face twenty (20) years' imprisonment on Counts 1 and 3, and a fine of $250,000 per count; five (5) years' imprisonment on Counts 2, 4, 5, 9, 10, and 11 and a fine of $250,000 per count; three (3) years' imprisonment on Counts 6 and 7 and a $250,000 fine per count; five (5) years' imprisonment on Count 8 and a $10,000 fine; and one (1) years' imprisonment on Counts 12 and 13, with a $10,000 fine per count. In addition, upon conviction, the Government will seek forfeitures of at least $528,098, and any rights, titles, memberships or interests in the AMO Union and each of the AMO Benefit Plans.

Mr. Acosta commended the investigative efforts of the Office of Inspector General, United States Department of Labor Racketeering and Fraud Investigations. This case is being prosecuted by Department of Justice - Organized Crime and Racketeering Section, Trial Attorney Robert S. Tully and Assistant United States Attorney Robert J. Lehner.

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