Ex-Leaders of Chicago Teamsters Local, Four Others Sentenced in Vote Scam

TruckersAfter five years, a Chicago voting scandal, union-style, has reached its final conclusion. During the course of hearings held on August 27 through September 29, six former officials of International Brotherhood of Teamsters Local 743 in Chicago were sentenced in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois in connection with their roles in rigging local elections in 2004. Sentenced were longtime President Robert Walston, Recording Secretary (and briefly, President) Richard Lopez, and four other union officers, Thaddeus Bania, Cassandra Mosley, David Rodriguez and Mark Jones, respectively, the union’s comptroller, business agent, organizer and head organizer during the Walston era.

As reported several times in Union Corruption Update, the Local 743 Unity slate, led by Walston, concocted a scheme to rig the mailing of ballots to rank and file for the October 2004 elections. Balloting was close, indeed too close for members of the opposition New Leadership slate, who believed the fix was in. They demanded a recount. Walston’s people, fearing potential court action, obliged the request. A December recount also resulted in a Unity victory. This time, the New Leadership people, led by Richard Berg, took their case to the U.S. Department of Labor, who filed suit in federal court challenging the results. A judge in July 2007 ordered another election to take place that fall, which the New Leadership slate won. The following March, Walston would be named as co-conspirator in a 14-count superseding indictment. Worse yet, he was indicted with another person in a separate case for alleged involvement in a Texas cocaine deal that never came off.

The sentences in the vote-rigging scandal varied. Walston got 57 months in prison plus three years of supervised release, while Lopez received a sentence of 24 months in prison and two years supervised release. The court also meted out 40 months imprisonment and two years supervision for Bania; one day in prison, six months home confinement and two years supervised release for Mosley; 18 months imprisonment and two years of supervised release for Rodriguez; and one year of probation for Jones. Five of the six defendants also were slapped with massive restitution orders. Walston, Bania and Mosley have to pay $900,936, while Lopez and Rodriguez were ordered to pay $864,924. Each of the two restitution orders carries joint and several liability. The case is the result of a joint investigation by the U.S. Labor Department’s Office of Labor-Management Standards and Office of Inspector General, and the U.S. Postal Inspection Service.