A federal judge sentenced the former president of New York state’s construction unions to more than four years in prison for taking bribes to help a non-union contractor win contracts and gain other benefits of organized labor association without employing union workers.

James Cahill was the last of 11 defendants to be sentenced in connection to the bribery scheme and received the most severe sentence, records show. U.S. District Court Judge Colleen McMahon in Manhattan sentenced him May 18 to 51 months in prison, to be served at a medium-security federal prison camp in Otisville, N.Y. McMahon also ordered Cahill to pay a $150,000 fine. 

Prosecutors say Cahill took more than $140,000 in cash plus other benefits such as appliances and free labor on a vacation home from an unidentified contractor while he was president of the New York State Building and Construction Trades Council. 

Additionally, Cahill introduced the contractor to leaders at plumbers’ and pipefitters’ union Local 638 in New York City, where he had been a business agent, and at Local 200 on Long Island, who also accepted bribes from the contractor, prosecutors say. In exchange, the union leaders would support the contractor’s bids on projects, consider labor agreements that were favorable to the firm and allow it to falsely claim it employed union workers. 

“Whether it was a cash-stuffed envelope or in-kind benefit, each payment reflected a decision to place personal greed over the union interests that Cahill was duty-bound to serve,” U.S. Attorney Damian Williams said in a statement. 

An attorney for Cahill declined to comment, filing a notice on May 22 to appeal his sentence.

Cahill pleaded guilty last December to one count of honest services fraud conspiracy. Two other charges of racketeering conspiracy and conspiracy to violate the Taft-Hartley Act were dismissed. 

The judge previously sentenced former Local 638 business agents Christopher Kraft, Patrick Hill, Matthew Norton, William Brian Wangerman, Kevin McCarron and Jeremy Sheeran, as well as the local’s former secretary-treasurer Robert Egan, former business agent at large Scott Roche and Arthur Gipson, a former business agent at Local 200.

Prosecutors say each accepted thousands of dollars in bribes.

The state building trades council voted in a new president following Cahill’s indictment in 2020.