Northwest Asian Weekly
A Filipino former union president who was serving a life sentence for murder has been found dead at Stafford Creek prison near Aberdeen, according to The Aberdeen Daily World.
Prison spokesperson Sheri Izatt told The Aberdeen Daily World that 80-year-old Constantine “Tony” Baruso was discovered during an inmate count at about 6:30 a.m. Friday, Oct. 14, on the floor of his cell.
Formerly from Tacoma, Baruso once served as president of the Local 37 chapter of the Alaska Cannery Workers Union in Seattle. He was convicted of aggravated murder on March 8, 1991 for ordering the killing of a fellow union officer 10 years prior.
Baruso was found guilty of aggravated first-degree murder in the death of Gene Vierbes. He was acquitted in the death of another union officer Silme Domingo. Vierbes and Domingo opposed the regime of Philippines President Ferdinand E. Marcos whom Baruso supported. Marcos is known for imposing martial law in the Philippines.
Viernes and Domingo were shot in their office in Pioneer Square on June 1, 1981. Viernes was the intended target and Domingo was killed because he was a witness to Viernes’ murder.
At the time, Baruso was union president and a well-respected leader in Seattle’s Filipino American community.
Originally, three Filipino gang members were convicted of carrying out the slayings. Prosecutors had argued that the killings had been retribution for an anti-corruption campaign that Viernes had carried on within the union.
Though he would not be charged until 1991, Baruso’s .45-caliber handgun had been used in the killings. He said the gun had been stolen from him.
Izatt said attempts to revive Baruso failed. His death appears to be from natural causes. ♦
Information from The Associated Press, The Seattle Times and The New York Times contributed to this report.