Federal investigators probing movie industry kickbacks and shakedowns by Teamsters seized business records and about $50,000 in cash in a predawn raid at the home of one of Int’l Bhd. of Teamsters Local 25 president George W. Cashman’s top lieutenants. The July 21 raid on the Charlestown home of William O’Brien, a longtime transportation captain in Local 25’s movie crew, is the latest twist in the two-year-long racketeering investigation into Cashman and his aides. Reportedly, O’Brien was not home when Dep’t of Labor agents from the Office of the Inspector Gen. burst into the house armed with warrants. In the house, agents found scores of hidden personal records allegedly detailing activities by the union members and vendors on movies made in New England over the past decade. Agents also reportedly found numerous envelopes stuffed with cash, totaling roughly $50,000.
A Boston Herald source said prosecutors are working to determine where the money came from but would not confirm if it was tied to kickbacks. While allegations of shakedowns of the film industry kicked off the probe, the investigation has widened into other areas, including similar charges related to other industries such as trucking firms and air freight carriers, as well as Cashman’s dealings as a member of Massport’s board of directors and his ties to state officials.
O’Brien is the second movie crew member whose home has been raided. In June 2000, agents burst into the Weymouth home of ex-con and reputed mobster James P. Flynn, who oversees the movie crew and decides who gets the plum jobs, which pay more than $2,000 a week plus thousands more in expenses and overtime. Investigators have also carted thousands of records out of Local 25’s office and continue to pore through the documents.
Another new development in the case, is that investigators are reportedly looking into grants Local 25 has received from ex-Gov. Paul Cellucci’s (R) administration over the past three years. Cellucci, now U.S. Ambassador to Canada, earmarked $125,000 in each of the last three budgets for Local 25. [Boston Herald 8/15/01]
Californian’s Plea Deal on Embezzlement Charged Delayed
Alan L. Axt, ex-vice-president of the United Food & Commercial Workers Local 1288 Federal Credit Union, who is accused of embezzling $237,335 , was given an extra two weeks Aug. 13 to consider a plea deal being offered by federal prosecutors. Axt’s attorney, David Gottlieb, asked U.S. Dist. Judge Oliver W. Wanger (E.D. Cal., H.W. Bush) to set the matter for Aug. 27 to give him more time to review the government’s offer. Axt, who is free on his own recognizance, was named in a one-count grand jury indictment in June and accused of taking the money between Mar. 1999 and Nov. 2000, while he was vice-president of member services at the Fresno, Cal. based credit union. Wanger set Sept. 25 as a trial date if a plea agreement cannot be reached. [Fresno Bee 8/14/01]