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Brooklyn man pleads guilty to promising memberships to local union in exchange for cash

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A Brooklyn man pleaded guilty on Dec. 6 to grand larceny and petit larceny charges for conning people who were eager to join the Mason Tenders Local 79 Union by offering membership for cash, according to Queens District Attorney Melinda Katz. 

The defendant, Jofre Ortega, 58, is required to pay restitution of $18,000 to the 14 victims as part of the plea. Local 79 also held an informational session for victims and their families to hear about legitimate ways to join the union. 

According to the original charges, between September 2019 and March 2021, Ortega promised at least nine individuals that he could get them into the Mason Tenders Local 79 Union if they paid between $500 an $1,500 each. Ortega did not have the authorization to grant union membership, Katz said.

An additional five victims have come forward to report being scammed by the defendant since the launch of the investigation. 

“More than a dozen individuals — laborers who sought to earn better pay for their hard work — were conned by this defendant, who took advantage of his position to line his pockets,” Katz said. “I want to thank the union’s leadership for bringing this case to our attention and helping my office holds the defendant accountable.”

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