The Silvis' past shows bribery, Clinton pardon

Fred G. Phillips Times Editor

The two brothers behind the plan to bring a quarry to New Hanover Township were found guilty of bribing a union official in 1991.

The two, Laurence J. Silvi, II, and John Silvi, owners of Gibraltar Rock, Inc. of Fairless Hills, were also granted full pardons for their crime by President Bill Clinton, in a rash of pardons granted during the last days of his administration last year.

According to court documents, The Boyertown Area Times has learned that Laurence and John Silvi, then principals in Penn Jersey Certified Concrete, Inc., pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court in Newark to charges they conspired to pay $5,000 to a Teamster union president. 

The payment, it was alleged then, was to ensure labor peace at a construction site in Burlington County, New Jersey. Penn Jersey provided concrete and concrete products for the jobsite. 

When John Silvi testified last week before township officials about the history of the Silvi Group Companies, his and his brother's past convictions were not brought up. 

Stephen B. Harris, of the Harris and Harris law firm in Warrington, said the two men in the 1991 federal indictment were his clients, the owners of the rock company.

"Yep, it's them," he said. "It was a youthful indiscretion which they paid for. They have atoned for their problem." 

The Silvis and other businessmen from Pennsylvania and New Jersey were part of an FBI probe into charges that the men violated the Labor-Management Relations Act. They said at the time that they wanted to end picketing at a U.S. General Services Administration building construction site.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Paul H. Zoubek, who is now deputy attorney general for New Jersey, said the picketing started as an argument over which union would   have jurisdiction at the job site. After the 1991 trial, Zoubek said the government intended to "send a message" to the men who were found guilty, that doing business the old-fashioned way would no longer be tolerated.  The Silvis faced up to five years in prison and $250,000 in fines.

As of deadline, it could not be confirmed that the Silvis spent any time in jail or paid any fines. Information supplied by the U.S. Department of Justice in Washington, confirmed that President Clinton granted pardons to the Silvis on November 21, 2000. The pardons were for "Conspiracy to bribe a union official, 18 U.S.C. 371; 29 U.S.C. 186."

Berks-Mont writer Diane Van Dyke contributed to this article.

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