Plumbers sound off about county corruption

9:27 AM, Sep 22, 2010   |    comments
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Local union workers met for the first time since learning their business manager may have used their money to bribe officials.

Local 55 business manager Robert Rybak is facing a number of charges, including embezzlement from the union.

The membership sounds off about being dragged into this county government shame.

Under the watchful eye of police, Local 55 members crowded into their Brooklyn Heights Union Hall.

Some are tightlipped, most remain in the dark.

"Don't know what's really going on," one member said.

"There are stories and we're about to find out," Member Jeff MacLean said.

Still being paid but stripped of his duties, Local 55 business manager Robert Rybak is accused of bribing public officials and stealing from the union.

"I don't think Rybak is guilty, no," another member said.  

"I have no concerns 'til we hear from the membership what's going on," one member said.

The plumbers union wants answers.

As business manager, he had access to millions of dollars in the general fund.

The U.S. attorney reportedly said the 500 plumbers union members are not the target of this investigation, only Rybak.

Rybak is also accused of throwing a political fundraiser for County Commissioner Peter Lawson Jones in exchange for his vote on county personnel decisions, like wage increases and hiring.

Jones denies any wrong doing.

No matter the outcome, Local 55 members can't help feel they're the ones being punished.

"The bad press is no good at a time when it's tough for all construction," Member Tim Hannon said.

Rybak pleaded not guilty in federal court and was released on a $50,000 bond.

He was not expected at Tuesday's assembly. This was a regularly scheduled monthly meeting.


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