An 80-year-old former union boss from Roslyn Heights was sentenced by a federal judge in Manhattan Thursday to 2 months in prison for probation violations despite pleas from prosecutors, a probation officer and the defense for leniency due to mental impairments.
U.S. District Judge Colleen McMahon said she couldn't give Warren Annunziata, a former official in the union representing New York City school bus drivers, different treatment for his continuing involvement in union business than she gave a young defendant who went back to dealing drugs.
"I can't not send you to jail," she told Annunziata, who had begged to be allowed to stay with his wife so they could take care of each other. "I can't not do it . . . I put them in jail. I put you in jail. You have disrespected this court."
Annunziata was sentenced to 33 months in prison by McMahon in 2011 for abusing his power in the union representing drivers and escorts to extort more than $500,000 from bus companies, and ordered to stay away from the union.
He subsequently made calls from prison to union officials, attempting to advise them on pension funds and other matters. He pleaded guilty to conducting union business from behind bars in Brooklyn federal court and received probation there in June, but McMahon retained jurisdiction over his probation violation on the 2011 conviction.
Defense lawyer Murray Richman told McMahon that Annunziata was facing the onset of senility and other problems, and made the calls in a desperate bid to remain relevant at the union where he had worked his whole life. A prosecutor warned that prison could be "very detrimental" to his health.
"I was just lonely, lonely, lonely to talk to people and I did it in the wrong way," Annunziata said to the judge. " . . . Please give me a little consideration so I can go back to my wife. I don't go anywhere, I don't do anything."
McMahon was unmoved. "Your problems are not of such a magnitude that the Bureau of Prisons can't take care of you," she told Annunziata. She gave him until Sept. 14 to surrender.
Afterward, Richman and Annunziata declined to comment on the sentence. "I'm dizzy," Annunziata said. "I want to fall down on the floor."