The old regime of Chicago’s Teamsters Local 743 is gone, but there’s some unfinished business – at least to federal prosecutors. On March 6, Robert Walston and Thaddeus Bania, respectively, former president and comptroller of the local, were charged in U.S. District Court as part of a 14-count superseding indictment alleging conspiracy, mail fraud, services theft, and embezzlement related to a vote-fraud scheme. As previously discussed in Union Corruption Update, Walston and other local officials had conspired to send ballots to wrong addresses in an October 2004 election. That election was voided, and a subsequent re-run election was held two months later. The incumbent “Unity” slate of Walston and Bania again won, but the U.S. Department of Labor, acting on a complaint by union dissenters, stepped in and filed a civil suit challenging the results. The case finally was settled last July, when a federal court ordered another election to be held. That September, federal prosecutors charged new President Richard Lopez and other persons associated with the union.
The current indictment supersedes one issued by a grand jury last September, and names Lopez plus two other original defendants, Cassandra Mosley and David Rodriguez. Lopez’s reign as president lasted only several days. Walston’s opponent in 2004, Richard Berg, is now president. The new indictment includes a forfeiture allegation of more than $2 million in salary, expenses and benefits, plus an information count against a former business agent and organizer, Mark Jones. The action follows a joint probe by the U.S. Labor Department’s Office of Labor-Management Standards and Office of Inspector General, and the U.S. Postal Inspection Service. (OLMS, 4/4/08).