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Saturday, February 24, 2001

Judge sends union
advisor to prison
for fraud involving
pension fund

By Debra Barayuga

A federal judge denied the request by an investment consultant convicted of mail fraud to remain free a while longer to spend time with his sick mother before he begins serving his prison term.

Saying he had already given Anthony DiPace more than a year to get his affairs in order, U.S. District Judge David A. Ezra ordered him yesterday to begin serving a five-year sentence, the maximum term possible under federal statutes.

DiPace was also ordered to pay restitution of $30,000 to Local 5 of the Hotel Employees and Restaurant Employees Union. DiPace had worked as investment monitor for Local 5 and Unity House

A federal jury found DiPace guilty more than a year ago of 11 counts of mail fraud for misrepresenting his qualifications so he could be hired to monitor the pension plan for Local 5. The pension fund had assets of about $250 million. DiPace would have been compensated more than $300,000 per year.

DiPace, of Albany, N.Y., was also hired as investment monitor for Unity House.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Marshall Silverberg said besides DiPace's attempts to gain control of the Local 5 pension fund, what bothered him was the defense's attempt at trial to pin the blame on another individual who had helped him with paperwork.

"There's got to be some kind of message ... you can't point the finger at someone on the street, someone involved in the case in an ancillary manner," Silverberg said.

The defense at trial had characterized DiPace's offense as "resume fraud" and that the reason why DiPace was prosecuted was to convince him to testify against labor leader Anthony Rutledge -- the target of an investigation by the federal government.

Ezra said DiPace held a "sacred position of trust" in handling the retirement monies of rank-and-file laborers.

He characterized DiPace's actions as a "pure and unmitigated grab for money at the expense ... of employees."

The defense's attempts to shift the blame to an innocent individual showed a lack of remorse and appreciation of the seriousness of his misconduct, Ezra said.

Attorney Rustam Barbee, who handled DiPace's sentencing, said he was informed just days ago that doctors for DiPace's mother discovered that she may not have much longer to live.

Ezra said he sympathizes with the condition of DiPace's mother, but DiPace faces indictment in New York in a case with evidence more overwhelming than the case here and is also under investigation by local authorities for offenses more serious than mail fraud.

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