10 Businesses Supposedly Controlled by the Mafia

Carpentry and Construction
Fuggedaboutit; the Mafia's got this construction site all under control. gpointstudio/iStock/Thinkstock

Similar to its waste-management strategy, the Mafia made its way into the building business through unions. Typically, construction companies make bids for jobs that include union crews. Mafia-run construction companies are known to include union rates in the bids and win the contracts — then pay far less to their workers. Inside the union, Mafia cronies get top jobs, shake down the legitimate crews and sell jobs to the highest bidders (rather than the most skilled carpenters), and there are even threats of physical violence. They also invest in and own companies that provide materials like steel or cement to other construction crews (the cement shoes trope clearly exists for a reason). These companies pile on the costs, making the price of building expensive.

The mob has taken a piece of several of New York's real-estate booms. Giuliani's office tried leaders of all five families in 1986 for controlling concrete labor unions and demanding kickbacks that cost the city millions [source: Long]. In 1990, the five families were up on federal charges in Brooklyn for receiving kickbacks and fixing bids on a $150 million job with the New York City Housing Authority [source: Gardiner].

It seems the Mafia remains a part of construction companies and unions today. Mafia-linked subcontractors continue to build projects in Manhattan, including the Freedom Tower at the World Trade Center. As buildings pop up all over the city, it's assumed that the Mafia still takes part in the city's continued growth [source: Marzulli et al.].