As far as corrupt Teamster bosses from Cleveland go, Don Hahs isn’t remotely in the same league as the union’s general president during the mid to late 80s, the late Jackie Presser, a kept man of the Mob. But the discovery that Hahs likely embezzled funds has raised concerns of a federally-appointed oversight body. In a September 13 letter to International Brotherhood of Teamsters General President James P. Hoffa, the Independent Review Board (IRB) recommended that Hoffa bring embezzlement charges against Hahs, who heads the Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers and Trainmen (BLET). Hahs, the three-member board charged, diverted more than $58,000 in BLE funds to cover personal expenses. It’s an internal matter – at least for now. But the IRB has a track record of limited patience.
The 55,000-member Locomotive Engineers’ union, headquartered in Cleveland, has been affiliated with the Teamsters since 2004. Don Hahs became president in 2001 and was re-elected four years later. During 2004-06, the Independent Review Board noted, he used more than $58,000 in BLE money to enjoy the good life, especially basketball-related. Tickets for Cleveland Cavaliers NBA games accounted for nearly $48,000 of that sum; travel expenses for his wife took up another $8,000. It will be hard for him to beat the rap, since the IRB report refers extensively to sworn member statements as well as itemized checks.
IRB Administrator John Cronin said Teamsters leadership would decide upon appropriate sanctions. Once Hoffa receives all relevant materials, he would have seven days to respond to the board and 90 days to take action. A union spokeswoman said that Hoffa “has not determined yet whether the Teamsters will hear the case or refer it back to the IRB.” If the union does bring charges, Hoffa would name a panel to hear the case and make recommendations. The Independent Review Board was created in the wake of a 1989 civil RICO consent agreement between the Teamsters and the Justice Department. Its current members are former Attorney General Benjamin Civiletti, former FBI and CIA Director William Webster, and former U.S. Attorney Joseph DiGenova. (Traffic World, 9/19/07).