Teamsters Closer to Filing Long-Awaited RICO Suit

The Int’l Bhd. of Teamsters are close to filing a civil suit under the Racketeer Influenced & Corrupt Organizations Act against disgraced ex-boss Ron Carey for his role in the 1996 money-laundering scandal that ejected him from the union. Other defendants may include the AFL-CIO secretary-treasurer Richard L. Trumka and Democratic Nat’l Committee for their respective roles in the schemes. Trumka is alleged to have steered AFL-CIO funds to the Carey campaign; he took the Fifth when called before federal investigations. Federal prosecutors have alleged the DNC was also funneling money to Carey. The suit will seek to recover about $3 million in union funds spent as a result of Carey’s 1996 reelection. [Time 12/27/99]

Illinois Boss Guilty of Accepting Bribe
Walter Hoff, ex-boss of Teamsters Local 786 in Chicago, admitted Dec. 21 to taking $16,000 in bribes from government mole John Christopher to let Christopher’s financial debts to the union slide. Hoff pleaded guilty to two criminal counts, mail fraud and tax evasion, in exchange for having seven charges dismissed.

In return for an $8,000 bribe in Sept. 1993 and a second $8,000 payment in May 1994, Hoff made it appear on paperwork that Christopher’s companies were unionized in a way that enabled him to qualify for certain contracts.  It enabled Christopher to sidestep payment of over $70,000 in union dues and other employee benefits. Before the first payoff, Hoff unwittingly hired an FBI agent posing as a Christopher business associate to sweep Local 786’s offices for concealed listening devices. After the agent pretended to search the office for electronic bugs, Christopher paid Hoff the first $8,000 cash bribe in a bathroom in the building.

Before the second payment, Christopher walked into the union office of Hoff, who held up a sign that read “Don’t talk.” Hoff lifted his hand in the air and rubbed his fingers together, which Christopher took to be a gesture that he wanted his bribe. Christopher handed over $8,000 in cash.

Hoff is scheduled to be sentenced Mar 9 and faces 2 years in prison, but reportedly he may  receive a lighter sentence because of his terminal cancer.  He ran Local 786 from 1982 to 1997. [Chi. Trib. 12/22/99]

New Jersey Local Placed in Trusteeship
Int’l Bhd. of Teamsters placed IBT Local 815 in Englewood Cliffs, N.J. in trusteeship Dec. 27  and removed two union bosses — president Larry Plotnick and secretary-treasurer Benjamin Camadeco accused of defrauding it of $144,000. Local 815 is the fifth local in the nation to be placed in trusteeship since James P. Hoffa became IBT president in Mar. and the first N.J. local taken over by IBT in eight years.

“An investigation of the local union has uncovered a systematic pattern of financial mismanagement by the officers of this local union,” Hoffa said. “We have taken the necessary action to ensure this local union protects the members’ dues monies.”

After investigating Local 815 for six months, IBT’s Independent Review Board concluded in Nov. that Plotnick and Camadeco engaged in a “long-running scheme to defraud the local into reimbursing them for improperly incurred, if not fictitious, expenses,” totaling $83,000 in questionable meal reimbursements for Camadeco and $61,000 for Plotnick from Jan. 1996 to July 1999.  All of Camadeco’s 649 meals and all but one of Plotnick’s 528 meals were not charged to a credit card, and most, 67% of Camadeco’s and 90% of Plotnick’s, were documented with generic receipt stubs bearing handwritten notations. Both submitted consecutively numbered check stubs from different restaurants. On several occasions, Plotnick and a second local boss were reimbursed for the same meal.  Camadeco prepared the reimbursement checks for himself and Plotnick. Many of the meals were in excess of $100, and one, submitted by Camadeco for a July 1998 meal at an Italian restaurant, cost $220.

Financial controls were also lax. In 1996, for example, Plotnick signed 200 blank checks, and Camadeco’s salary, currently $176,000, was paid from a payroll account not subject to review by union trustees. Camadeco’s son was also paid $17,500 from two union funds on which he is the Local 815-appointed trustee.

Further, the children of Local 815’s founder George Barasch are administrators of the local’s affiliated benefit funds, and in 1997, the companies  owned were paid over $2 million from four of the affiliated funds. For 20 years, Barasch has been leasing the local its offices under an agreement that requires the local to pay rent and 40% of the landlord’s taxes, utilities, maintenance, and insurance costs. The allegations involving Barasch and his children are similar to those from 35 years ago. In 1965, Barasch was called  before a U.S. Senate subcommittee investigating allegations that $4 million in funds had been transferred to foundations affiliated with him or his relatives. He invoked the 5th Amendment.

Also, the local entered into at least three “sham” collective bargaining agreements with companies owned by union bosses; it has held only eight membership meetings since 1994; and it hasn’t had a contested election for 25 years. [Record (Bergen Co., N.J.)12/29/99]