Convicted San Diego Councilman Quickly Finds New Job

San Diego, of all places, lately has acquired an unwanted image as Sin City.  In mid July, Acting Mayor Michael Zucchet was forced out of office – his first day on the job.  His predecessor, Dick Murphy, re-elected by a close margin last November, had just resigned over allegations of mismanagement of the deficit-ridden public employees’ pension fund.  But these scandals, which appear to be heavily driven by zealotry of political opponents, may be masking a bigger problem:  a longstanding old-boy network of local politicians and union bosses. 

That would seem to be the case with Ralph Inzunza, recently suspended from his job as a San Diego City Council member.  He and Zucchet (who also had been a council member), both 35, were convicted in a federal trial court this July on extortion and fraud charges.  The case centered on the pair’s acceptance of $34,500 worth of bribes and illegal … Read More ➡

Members of Bus Drivers Local Seek a National Union Takeover

Local 1181 of the Amalgamated Transit Union, in Queens, N.Y., consulted for years with New York’s Genovese crime family.  Unfortunately, it didn’t consult with its own 13,000 members.  Now, in the wake of federal prosecutions of the local’s leaders, the union’s national headquarters are getting an earful from local rank and file, which consist of drivers of school buses, private buses, and vans.

On July 28, federal agents and local police arrested 20 alleged mob members and associates, including Local 1181’s president, treasurer and pension director.  The latter three persons are, respectively, Salvatore Battaglia, 58, Julius “Spike” Bernstein, 82, and Ann Chiarovano, 64.  The indictment leading to the arrests charged, among other things, that Bernstein conspired with top Genovese mobster Matty “the Horse” Ianniello to extort cash payments from a medical center that rented space from the local.  Some local members aren’t too happy about this turn of events.  “We … Read More ➡

Investigation of Chicago Teamsters Hired Truck Program Widens

With the reign of the Duff family now over, Chicago might well have an absence of City Hall patronage scandals were it not for its Hired Truck Program.  A reminder that “honest graft” is not a relic of the past, the program thus far has resulted in nearly two dozen guilty pleas.  But one of its less heralded repercussions may be confirmation of widespread suspicions that Teamsters President James P. Hoffa and his loyalists have a habitual blind spot when it comes to corruption.

The City of Chicago created the Hired Truck Program to outsource hauling work to private trucking companies and bypass the standard competitive bidding process.  In practice, the program has been an open invitation to the greased palm to obtain or retain contracts.  Thus far 32 former City workers and trucking officials have been charged in a nearly two-year-old FBI investigation.  The latest two trophies are Anthony … Read More ➡

Ex-California Treasurer Accused of Embezzlement

On June 30, William Harry Good, Jr., former financial secretary-treasurer of Machinists Local Lodge 821, was charged in U.S. District Court, Central District of California, with embezzling $1,500 in union funds.  But in this case, a little smoke has revealed a lot of fire.  The sum represents just one of 229 union checks, collectively worth more than $192,000, that Good allegedly misappropriated.  The indictment comes after a joint investigation by the Department of Labor’s Office of Labor-Management Standards (OLMS) and its Office of Inspector General.  (OLMS, 7/21).       


Nebraska Ex-Treasurer Sentenced for Embezzlement

On July 7, in U.S. District Court for Nebraska, Terry L. Gloe, former treasurer for Local 11 of the American Postal Workers Union, was sentenced to six months imprisonment to be followed by three years of supervised release, with a special condition of six months of home confinement.  He also Read More ➡

Homeland Security Employees Official Charged with Theft

Diane Sampson thought she could put one over the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.  It was a bad mistake.  On July 19, Ms. Sampson, a native of Guyana, was suspended without pay after being charged with the theft of more than $23,000 from her union, the Federal Protection Service Labor Committee, an affiliate of the Fraternal Order of Police.  The group represents employees of the Federal Protective Service, which is part of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.


Sampson’s job was to prepare union financial reports, documenting all expenses and income.  But federal authorities allege that she did other things not specified in her job title – like writing union checks and making ATM union credit-card withdrawals to finance trips to Guyana, shopping excursions, and appointments at the beauty salon.  Court documents also accuse her of lying on documents to cover up Read More ➡

Former Benefits Fund Manager Sentenced for Embezzlement

Robert Cataldo couldn’t stay out of prison forever. Back in August 2003, the ex-finance director for the health and retirements funds for the American Federation of Television and Radio Artists, had pleaded guilty in New York for embezzling $1.36 million from the funds. Nearly two years later, on Thursday, July 21, he got his due from U.S. District Judge Naomi Reice Buchwald: a 37-month prison sentence, plus mandatory restitution and two years’ probation upon release. Cataldo was responsible for financial and accounting processes. After his arrest, fund trustees announced they had commissioned a study by independent auditors to identify and implement procedures to prevent future thefts of this sort. (Daily Variety, 7/22).   Read More ➡

Genovese Boss, 19 Others Arrested for Various Crimes

Age is no obstacle when it comes to running a business, especially when it’s a Genovese crime family business.  Apparently it’s no obstacle to getting arrested either.  Matty “the Horse” Ianniello, a longtime Genovese capo, knows the lesson as well as anyone.  On Thursday, July 28, federal agents and local police arrested Ianniello and 19 other alleged members and associates on extortion, loansharking and other charges.  Ianniello, 85, who at one point allegedly served as acting family boss following the conviction of Vincent “the Chin” Gigante (see photo), was still active.  “Don’t let age fool you,” said FBI Agent Matt Heron.  “He’s still an influential player in the Genovese family.”


The family has been playing hard these past several years.  The federal indictment leading to the arrest alleges that Genovese members, led by Ianniello, infiltrated the Queens, N.Y.-based Local 1181 of the Amalgamated Transit Union, which represents bus drivers.  Read More ➡

AFL-CIO Split May Have Little Effect on Corruption

People saw it coming a mile away.  The Teamsters’ James P. Hoffa and the Service Employees’ Andrew Stern each made good on their threats to take their unions out of the AFL-CIO at the start of that labor federation’s 50th anniversary convention in Chicago.  In the process, they and several other dissenting unions have left observers wondering if the fortunes of organized labor have been irrevocably damaged.  While that’s a possibility, the most likely long-run outcome probably will be the opposite.  Indeed, unions may emerge with more members, revenues and political clout.  As for battling corruption, they don’t seem to view this as a high-priority item.  But this requires some context.   And the context is the convention.      


Populism ran deep, proud and far to the left inside the large air-conditioned convention hall along Chicago’s Navy Pier Monday through Thursday, July 25-28.  There was no mistaking the left Read More ➡

RICO Suit Could Mean Long-Term Federal Control Over Longshoremen

On the surface, life at International Longshoremen’s Association (ILA) headquarters in Manhattan hasn’t changed all that much.  But the seeming normalcy doesn’t disguise the fact that the union’s longstanding alleged ties to two Mafia families are about to be exposed wide open.  On July 6, Justice Department lawyers filed a massive civil RICO lawsuit in U.S. District Court in Brooklyn.  Prosecutors, in their words, seek to end “the conspiracy among union officials, organized crime figures and others that has plagued some of the nation’s most important ports for decades.”  The lawsuit alleges that the Genovese and Gambino crime families control the docks at the ports of New York-New Jersey and Miami, and that the mobsters have used that influence to curry favor with the international union and put their people in charge of member benefit programs.


ILA President John Bowers, his top aides, and union attorney Howard W. Read More ➡

New Report Claims Union Is Mob-Free, but May Be a Cover-up

teamsters-logoIs it the truth or is it a whitewash?  That’s the question rank-and-file members of the International Brotherhood of Teamsters ought to be asking in the wake of the release of the public portion of a new report prepared for the union, concluding that the IBT is free of organized crime.  Union leadership, beginning with President James P. Hoffa, couldn’t be happier.  But there’s an unpleasant reality:  The report is in conflict with an earlier one released over a year ago.  The extent to which the Teamsters can sway skeptics will determine how soon, if at all, the federal government will lift its more than decade-and-a-half of surveillance.


The new report, released on July 14, was prepared under the supervision of Ed McDonald, a former federal prosecutor and now a partner with the Dechert law firm in New York City.  The Teamsters hired McDonald, who previously had led the Read More ➡

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