A Teamsters local run by John Coli, one of Chicago‘s most powerful union bosses, is facing renewed allegations that one of Coli’s underlings has an “organized crime association.” The underling’s father allegedly knows reputed Outfit boss John DiFronzo, according to sources and documents obtained by the Chicago Sun-Times.
The alleged association has gotten the attention of the Independent Rev. Bd., a federally appointed agency that looks into potential wrongdoing in the Teamsters and can punish or recommend punishment against union members. Coli runs Local 727 as well as a coalition of nearly two dozen Teamsters locals in the region. Teamsters spokesman Brian Rainville said the IRB looked into that same matter years ago and “dismissed” it without leveling charges.
The allegation was resurrected by an internal Teamsters investigative squad. Led by attorney Ed Stier, the unit has accused Teamsters boss James P. Hoffa’s administration of blocking probes into union corruption in Chicago — an assertion Hoffa aides strongly deny. Stier wrote a report detailing accusations and concerns before he resigned and the unit disbanded. The Local 727 matter was in that document. Rainville said Stier was aware the IRB looked into the Local 727 allegation a couple of years back when he issued a separate, “glowing report” about Local 727. Rainville suggested Stier was after more legal fees.
“If I wanted money I would have played ball with these guys and still would have been there,” Stier said, adding he’s motivated by cleaning up the union — which he says clearly still has serious problems. To that end, the FBI and U.S. Department of Labor are jointly investigating possible financial misdealings within Local 727, sources said. Local 727, which represents funeral home workers, among others, has had its share of controversy. Coli’s brother James ran the group until the early 1990s when he was booted for allegedly doing nothing after learning a fellow officer had suspected mob ties.
The Colis’ late father ran the union for decades. He’s been described in federal documents as a “syndicate member, burglar, convicted armed robber and strong arm man.” [Chicago Sun-Times, 10/15/04]