Anthony Lapiana Jr.


The least recognized of the power figures involved with the outfit, Anthony Lapiana Jr., was once described by former Teamsters International President Jackie Presser as "the new Allan Dorfman." As the son-in-law of Detroit mobster Vincent A. Meli, Lapiana has long been looked upon as a conduit for organized crime an ascercion he strongly denies. Interestingly enough, Lapiana blames his ties to the Teamsters as the most likely source of suspicion as to the nature of his supposed criminal dealings. After all Lapiana's father was a high ranking Teamster official spending 50 years as a union member. Tony on the other hand has emerge as a shrewd businessman specializing in providing cheap insurance coverage to labor unions. Lapiana peaked the interest of law enforcement officials when Health and Welfare Plans Inc., a company Lapiana served as vice president of accumulated million dollars in unpaid claims. Many of the claims filed were connected to Teamsters Local 283. Local 283 just so happened to be run by George Vitale a man with a history of associating with unsavory figures. Company President Joseph Speiser was convicted of falsifying documents while Lapiana "who was also half owner of the company," managed to avoid being charged by pleading ignorance to Speiser's actions as company President. Michigan labor officials forbade Speiser and Lapiana from conducting insurance business together again in the state. Lapiana put the episode behind him by disbanding Health and Welfare Plans Inc., and establishing Automated Benefit Services in its place. Under Lapiana's guidance, Automated secured many of the same contracts his former company held. At about the same time, Lapiana's reported mob ties turned up again when former Teamster President Jackie Presser turned informant and spilled his knowledge of the shady union deals cut by or on behalf of organized crime figures across the country. Presser made mention that Anthony Lapiana was the new Allan Dorfman, representing the interest of not only his father-in-laws friends within the partnership, but also those of the outfit in Chicago. Lapiana according to Presser's testimony attempted to shake him down for a loan in the amount of the outstanding claims owed by Health and Welfare Plan Inc. Presser reportedly refused to back the loan and the Lapiana followed up with a suite which later cost the Michigan Conference of Teamsters a reported $2.5 million dollars to settle in 1986. Inspite of the victory in securing the $2.5 million, Automated failed in its attempt to regain the contract for the Michigan Teamsters conference worth an estimated $20 million. The settling of the suite was pushed through by noneother than George Vitale who was happy to have the past debt paid in full. Investigators immediately began an investigation into Bobby Holmes a teamster leader with ties to Vince Meli, Jack Tocco and other outfit figures for for arranging a kickback deal which called for Delaware Professional Services the winner of the Michigan Conference Health and Welfare Insurance package to kick back funds for disbursement to the partners in Detroit and Chicago outfit. By 1987, Lapiana's insurance dealings were raising eyebrows again as one of his companies ran up a $2 million dollar deficit while handling the Teamsters Southern States Health and Welfare Fund. Three years later, Anthony Lapiana struck it big when Automated Benefit Services won a $50 million dollar contract to handle Broward Counties government employees fund. An investigation was launched into the bid process when officials found a personal relationship existed between Lapiana and Walter Browne commissioner of the Broward based Federation of Public Employees. The investigation revealed further ties between the two men who had once both worked or at least conducted business with Tony Cannestro an old line Teamster leader who headed the Southern States Conference of Teamsters. Inspite of a track record which saw Lapiana's company list deficits of $2, $1.6 and $1.98 million in the years 1985-87, Automated Benefit Services received the $50 million dollar contract after a unanimous vote. Following an intensive investigation, no improper dealings were found in the awarding of the lucrative contract. During the investigation, Lapiana was dragged through the ringer being forced to defend his name and honor as a businessman. Investigators quickly made mention of his mob ties as well as the involvement of his family with the Teamsters. Following the investigation, Anthony Lapiana rarely appeared in newsprint over the next decade but the flipping of Nove Tocco changed all of that when government officiails announced a new probe after hearing allegations that Anthony was an outfit leader overseeing a crew of racketeers. Anthony denied the accusations and became a proponent for the mistreatment of Italian Americans while denouncing the portrayal of all minorities by the media. Anthony Lapiana continues to own and operate Automated Benefits Services where his brother Louis serves as Vice-President of the Sterling Heights, Michigan office. Anthony is also the President of the National Italian American Council.

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