Roland Bedwell, 57, of Freeport, was sentenced by U.S. District Judge Nicholas Garaufis to five years in prison and three years of probation on May 18, after he pleaded guilty to extoring a construction business owner. Bedwell was arrested on the charges in December 2016 and pleaded guilty in August 2017.
He worked as the business manager of United Plant and Production Workers Local 175. According court filings and statements made in court, the extortion he was sentenced for was partly captured during a recorded conversation he had at a restaurant in Queens with an unidentified individual who owned a construction business. Bedwell explained to the victim the financial pain he had previously inflicted on others when, for example, a delivery truck transporting trees was blocked, causing the trees to die.
→Bedwell then warned the victim that if he did not employ Local 175 members, he would use a crew of 15 “ex-military” men, who were unafraid to serve time in prison, to interfere with the the business, resulting in the loss of “a tremendous amount of money.” The business owner relented, making his workers sign with Local 175.
He also admitted that he attempted to extort another construction business owner, telling him that he would not get asphalt delivered to a LaGuardia Airport job site if he did not agree to employ Local 175 members. When the owner refused to sign an agreement with Local 175, Bedwell and his co-conspirators stopped the asphalt-delivery trucks, harassed the drivers and slashed their tires. ←
The extortion and attempted extortion were part of a pattern. Bedwell referred to his ties to a member and then-associate of the Gambino organized crime family of La Cosa Nostra, as well as his own reputation as a “muscle man,” to intimidate businesses into signing labor contracts with Local 175. Bedwell’s co-conspirators also physically assaulted workers associated with contractors who refused to sign with Local 175.