John Cody, who federal investigators said helped organized
crime figures extort the construction industry from Montauk to Manhattan in the
1970s and 1980s, died Tuesday of Alzheimer's disease at his home in Seaford.
He was 79.
Cody was the longtime head of Teamsters Local 282 in Elmont, now in Lake
Success. The union's 3,000 members drive the trucks that deliver concrete and
building supplies to many construction sites in the metropolitan area.
"I believe he did a lot for the union...His union membership made a good
living," said Cody's son, Michael of Greenport.
While reformers fought Cody for control of the union for decades, FBI
agents and federal prosecutors sent him to prison, once in the 1980s for
racketeering and once in the 1990s for plotting to murder a rival who had taken
over the union during Cody's earlier imprisonment.
Yesterday, however, at least one longtime Cody foe was reluctant to say
anything against him. "We were no friends, but any remarks would not be
appropriate�" said Lee Olson, a former member of the local.
Cody grew up on the Lower East Side of Manhattan and began working as a
trucker's helper at age 15. He was released from prison the first time in 1947,
after serving 7 years in reform school and then state prison on burglary
charges, according to court records.
Michael Cody said his father was released from federal prison after several
months in 1993 because of his Alzheimer's condition. Cody had faced up to 30
more months in prison for hiring someone to murder his successor at the
Teamster's local. The murder plot was never carried out.
In 1995, a court-appointed officer and counsel were installed by a federal
judge to oversee the union with the aim of eliminating organized crime
influence. Federal prosecutors had charged that the Gambino crime family
controlled the union, ignored labor agreements and extorted money from
contractors in return for labor peace.
Besides his son, survivors include his daughter, Theresa, and another son,
John Jr., both of Seaford, and six grandchildren. Services are scheduled for 9
a.m. tomorrow at St. William the Abbot Roman Catholic Church in Seaford. Burial
will follow at St. Charles Cemetery in East Farmingdale.