A Fourth, Blitz, Pleads Guilty in Teamsters Scandal

Charles Blitz, a CA businessman and liberal campaign fundraiser, pled guilty Aug. 17 in U.S. District Court to lying to a court-appointed election monitor about the money-laundering schemes that ruined Teamsters President Ron Carey. Blitz is the 4th person to plead guilty. Blitz faces 5 years in prison and a $250,000 fine. He is scheduled to be sentenced Dec. 2. No one involved in the scandals has been sentenced to date. [Detroit News & Newsday 8/18/98]

According to court records, the scheme, that Blitz was a part, illegally raised $110,000 and $75,000 for “Teamsters for a Corruption Free Union” from the liberal Citizen Action and Project Vote, respectively. In return, the Teamsters “donated” $475,000 to Citizen Action and $175,000 to Project Vote. An additional $85,000 to the National Council of Senior Citizens garnered $42,500 for Carey. The total, $227,500, covered Carey’s direct mail expenses.… Read More ➡

Acting-President Sever Reprimanded

Election Officer Michael G. Cherkasky found Teamsters Secretary-Treasurer and acting-President Tom Sever committed “very serious” violations of union rules by retaliating against union officials opposed to Sever’s continuation in office. Sever stripped duties from presidential candidate Tom Leedham and two others. Cherkasky ordered Sever and an aide to halt retaliatory actions, but he stopped short of barring Sever from reelection. [Detroit News 8/18/98]

Ex-Teamsters Boss to Pay $136K for Clean-Up
Robert Sasso, former President of Teamsters Local 282 in Lake Success, NY, was ordered Jul. 31 by a U.S. District Judge to pay $136,000 for the local’s court-appointed monitors. He is paying 15% of the monitor’s estimated $906,000 cost. Sasso pled guilty in 1994 to a criminal RICO conspiracy charge. He told prosecutors how the local shared its illegal gains with the Gambino crime family. While defendants in past cases have agreed to pay for monitoring costs, Sasso is … Read More ➡

NY Boss Resigns Over Ethics Violations

Laborers Int’l. Union of North America’s NY political action committee chairman Samuel Fresina resigned Aug. 6 after W. Neil Eggleston, LIUNA’s in-house appeals officer (and personal attorney for Bill Clinton and Labor Secretary Alexis Herman), upheld findings against Fresina for “ethical violations.” Fresina, not directly accused of mob ties, had his PAC give money to Genovese crime family associate Salvatore Lanza. The case revived allegations of Fresina’s ties to the Todaro crime family. The disciplinary action, brought by LIUNA’s in-house prosecutor Robert D. Luskin, bans Fresina from union office for 5 years and orders him to repay the PAC $50,000. But, recent questions about Luskin’s qualifications, motives and possible conflicts-of-interest raise concerns about his objectivity in this case. Fresina also resigned Aug. 13 as business manager of Albany’s Local 190. Apparently, no criminal or civil legal action has been taken against him. [Albany Times-Union 8/7/98 & 8/14/98]

Jailed Boss Read More ➡

Hollywood Boss Indicted

Hollywood’s Int’l. Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local 45 allegedly had over $63,000 embezzled from it by business manager James E. Jackson. He was indicted Aug. 14 on 46 counts in U.S. District Court. According to court records, Jackson used IBEW’s credit card for unauthorized non-union purposes such as Caribbean cruise tickets, airline and hotel expenditures for family and friends, jewelry and a $3,200 fur coat. IBEW also paid his unauthorized auto allowances, expenses and insurance and paid 4 years of his adult daughter’s health insurance. [City News Service 8/14/98]

Boss Pleads Guilty to $40K Theft
Utility Workers of America Local 537 Secretary-Treasurer William S. George pled guilty Jul. 30 to 6 counts of embezzlement. The plea came after the Pittsburgh union boss was indicted Apr. 22 in U.S. District Court for stealing over $40,000 of union members’ funds. According to the U.S. Attorney’s Office, George used several schemes, including … Read More ➡

Top Boss Goes to Prison for Union Embezzlement

“[H]e thought of himself first and the union members second. He and other members of his family used the union as a personal asset,” said U.S. Labor Department’s Joseph S. Wasik in discussing Joseph C. Talarico, the now-former Int’l. Secretary-Treasurer (i.e. #2 post) of the United Food & Commercial Workers Int’l. Union. Talarico was sentenced Jul. 28 in U.S. District Court to 30 months in prison and ordered to pay $1.1 million restitution to UFCW Local 1 in Utica, NY, for embezzling over $925,000 from union members. He was banned from union office for 13 years.

But the scheme that ran 1984-97 went beyond Joseph Talarico, who was the Local 1 president before he took his int’l. union post in 1995, to include his brother, son, daughter and brother-in-law. The Talaricos illegally used union funds for a wide range of personal purposes, including landscaping and lavish renovations to their homes. … Read More ➡

UFCW’s Undemocratic Convention

While the Talarico scandal exploded, UFCW held its int’l. convention in Chicago. UFCW dissidents, using the disgraced former Secretary-Treasurer Talarico as a rallying point, were barred from the convention. At a Jul. 30 press conference, UFCW President Douglas H. Dority was asked about why dissident leader Louis Anderson was barred; Dority responded, “He has no right at this convention. When he writes stuff that undermines our organizing campaign, he has no right to be at this convention.”

According to dissidents, two-thirds of the nearly 2,000 delegates and alternates at the convention are either local union bosses or paid staff who will not oppose the bosses to whom they owe their jobs. Thus, incumbent officers were reelected Jul. 28, including Dority, Secretary-Treasurer Joseph Hansen and 49 vice presidents. All were unopposed and elected by acclamation. A potential challenge to Dority from Canton, OH Local 17A President Gary Feiock was smashed when … Read More ➡

UFCW Strike Puts Meatpacker Out of Business

Broken by a 2-week UFCW Local 271 strike, meatpacker BeefAmerica said Jul. 28 that it is going out of business. It will close its only plant putting 1,300 UFCW members and managers in Norfolk, NE, out of work. “The strike [was] something the company did not expect or anticipate and [was] very costly,” said a company spokesman. The company lost “hundreds of thousands of dollars” each week of the strike. [Des Moines Register 07/29/98]

Union Boss Pleads Guilty to Embezzlement
Janet Brown, the now-former president of American Flint Glass Workers Union Local 599 in Beaver Falls, PA, pled guilty Jul. 29 to embezzling more than $3,000 from union coffers. U.S. Attorney’s Office said the union boss took members’ money by writing checks to herself and falsifying union records. [Pittsburgh Post-Gazette 07/30/98]

Organized Crime Boss Convicted of Racketeering
A federal jury in Trenton, NJ, Jul. 27 found reputed organized … Read More ➡

AFSCME Conspiracy in Massachusetts

According to the U.S. Attorney’s Office, minutes before his trial on Jul. 27, Am. Fed. of State, County & Municipal Employees member Abraham Aly, in-house architect of Newton, MA, pled guilty to 9 counts of bribery, 5 counts of mail fraud, 3 counts of embezzlement and 1 count of conspiracy. U.S. Attorney Donald K. Stern stated, “Newton was bilked by Aly for construction…work at 2 high schools, 2 elementary schools and at City Hall itself. This was done so that the defendant could pocket cash kickbacks and put a new roof on his own house. The losers were the taxpayers of the City of Newton and the public trust.” Aly admitted that during 1993-95 he used his position to extract personal favors and cash from a vendor. The vendor overbilled the city about $50,000 and kicked-back about $25,000, in cash, to Aly. Payments were typically made at job sites and … Read More ➡

Money-Laundering Scandal Briefs

  • Aug. 4: U.S. Attorney Mary Jo White told the U.S. District Court in Manhattan that Congress allowed the Justice Department to spend $4 million of the $8.4 million estimated cost on the rerun election. [BNA 08/05/98]
  • Aug. 3: Teamsters presidential candidate and Carey supporter, Tom Leedham accused Rep. Peter Hoekstra (R-MI) of using his Congressional investigation into the Teamsters scandal to aid rival candidate James P. Hoffa. Hoekstra’s spokesman said it was “ridiculous.” [BNA 08/04/98]
  • Jul. 27: Ron Carey, who was elected in 1991 with a motto “no corruption, no excuses, no exceptions,” was permanently expelled from the union almost a year after revelations of his 1996 campaign’s schemes that funneled over $538,000. The court-appointed Independent Review Board also expelled disgraced Teamsters political director William W. Hamilton who has been indicted for his role in the scandal. [Wash. Times 07/28/98]
  • Jul. 24: Teamsters Vice President Aaron Belk’s
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Strike-Happy CWA in 35 States?

If the Communications Workers of America has its way, it may disconnect America in Aug. as strikes near at 3 regional telephone giants. On Aug. 3, CWA members authorized strikes at BellSouth and US West, and CWA’s board authorized a strike against Bell Atlantic. CWA President Morton Bahr smugly proclaimed, “We have serious problems, much negotiating to do and very little time to go.” Contracts expire at Bell Atlantic and BellSouth on Aug. 8 and US West on Aug. 15. If CWA doesn’t compromise: 73,000 workers at Bell Atlantic in DE, ME, MD, MA, NH, NJ, NY, PA, RI, VT, VA, WV & DC; 48,000 at BellSouth in AL, FL, GA, KY, LA, MS, NC, SC & TN; and 36,000 at US West in AZ, CO, ID, IA, MN, MT, NE, NM, ND, OR, SD, UT, WA & WY will be on strike.

Boss Doctors Union’s Books
Louis DiFiore, the … Read More ➡