Rodrigues remains
free on bail

A federal judge denies prosecutors'
request to keep him in jail

By Rick Daysog

Convicted former United Public Workers state Director Gary Rodrigues can remain free on bail while he awaits his sentencing in May.

But the powerful labor leader and his daughter Robin Haunani Rodrigues Sabatini are not allowed to set foot on UPW properties, nor can they contact UPW members about union business without the supervision of federal officials.

That is the ruling of U.S. District Judge David Ezra, who denied a motion yesterday by federal prosecutors that Rodrigues be held in custody for making threatening comments at them.

Ezra chastised Rodrigues, saying he was "extremely disturbed" by Rodrigues' courtroom behavior on Nov. 19 after a federal jury found him guilty on 101 counts of embezzlement, money laundering and mail fraud.

According to prosecutors, Rodrigues turned to his 9-year-old granddaughter after the verdict was read and repeatedly told her to "remember those faces." Rodrigues also knocked a microphone out of the hands of a television reporter as he attempted to leave the courthouse that day, prosecutors said.

While Rodrigues' actions were "meant to send a message," Ezra noted that he has no history of violence. Ezra added that he rarely orders a person convicted of a white-collar crime incarcerated prior to his sentencing.

"While Mr. Rodrigues has been a forceful man, outside of these incidents there is no evidence of violence," Ezra said.

The 61-year-old Rodrigues has headed the 12,000-member UPW since 1981. But he resigned from his $200,000-a-year post on Nov. 22 after the UPW's parent organization, the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, suspended him as state director.

In yesterday's ruling, Ezra also barred UPW members from attempting to contact Rodrigues without permission from federal officials.

Sabatini was convicted with Rodrigues on 95 counts of federal money-laundering and mail fraud charges. Both will be sentenced on May 12.

Doron Weinberg, Rodrigues' attorney, said he had no dispute with Ezra's ruling. But he said he had a problem with prosecutors for filing their motion to place Rodrigues in custody since he had no criminal record and presented no danger to the community.

According to Weinberg, Rodrigues was frustrated by the jury's decision but did not mean his statements to be taken as a threat.

"Not once in his 21 years was he ever accused of using force, fear or intimidation," said Weinberg, who plans to appeal last month's verdict.

"It was his expression of his belief that the government did something that was not fair or honest."

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