Chicago-Area Boss ‘Fesses up to Graft

After denying for months that he did anything wrong, the longtime boss of a Chicago area machinery-moving union pled guilty Oct. 20 to illegally accepting a $19,000 Harley Davidson motorcycle from a pension fund consultant.  The plea deal with the U.S. attorney’s office means Fred Schreier not only faces up to three years in prison but also a fine of as much as $250,000 when he’s sentenced in February.

 

As part of the plea bargain, Schreier must also step down as president of the union, a small but politically powerful group that is entrenched at McCormick Place and has a long history of corruption and reputed mob influence.  Poised to replace him is Schreier’s son, Ed, the union’s vice president — unless the union’s parent body, the Intl. Assn. of Iron Workers, chooses to take over the Local.

 

Such a takeover has been rumored, but the intl. president, Joseph J. Hunt, has refused to comment about Schreier and the union. The Intl. has also been rocked by corruption in recent years, as almost all of its intl. officers from the mid 1990s were convicted in a multi-million dollar embezzlement scheme

 

The Schreier case, overseen by prosecutor John G. McKenzie and federal agent John Legan, determined Schreier accepted illegal graft for taking a free motorcycle from pension fund consultant Mike Linder, who was hired to help run the union’s pension funds.  As part of the guilty plea, another charge against Schreier will be dropped.

 

Last month, a federal jury convicted Thomas Kisting of the same charge.  Kisting is the former business manager of Ironworkers Local 498 in Rockford.  Kisting resigned as Rockford Housing Authority Board president last month.  His sentencing is scheduled for 9 a.m. Nov. 19.  Schreier’s sentencing is set for 1:30 p.m. Feb. 2.

 

Among the still unanswered questions is whether Schreier’s legal bills have been paid by the union, and whether he now will have to repay that money.  Neither Schreier, whose first wife was a niece of late mob chieftain Anthony Accardo, nor his attorneys made any public comments. [Chicago Sun-Times, Rockford Register Star, 10/21/04]