Jesse A. Brewer, Jr.
| Manuel J. Reyes
Carol Corrigan Justin J. Dintino William J. Guste Judith R. Hope
Justin J. Dintino
William J. Guste
Judith R. Hope
* Commissioner Rodino, in view of his position
as Chairman of the Committee on the Judiciary of the United States
House of Representatives, takes no position concerning the recommendations
included in Section Eleven of this Report.
| Summary of Recommendations
o Section One Section Two Section Three Section Four Section Five Section Six Section Seven Section Eight Section Nine
The Most Controlled Union
The leaders of the nation's largest union,
the International Brotherhood of Teamsters (IBT), have been firmly
under the influence of organized crime since the 1950's. Although
many of the hundreds of IBT locals and joint councils operating
throughout the country are not criminally infiltrated, organized
crime influences at least 38 of the largest locals and a joint
council in Chicago, Cleveland, New Jersey, New York, Philadelphia,
St. Louis, and other major cities. Former Teamster president Roy
L. Williams told the Commission, "Every big [Teamster] local
union...had some connection with organized crime.''1 These locals
operate in the nation's major business and economic centers and
include the majority of the union's 1.6 million members. They
are the foundation of organized crime's union-wide influences.
For decades organized crime has exercised
substantial influence over the international union, primarily
through the office of the president. In the period 1952-1985 there
have been five IBT presidents. The first, Dave Beck, was convicted
in 1959 for violating federal income tax laws. His successor,
James R. ("Jimmy") Hoffa, was convicted of jury tampering
in 1964, and disappeared (presumably murdered by organized crime)
in 1975. Although known to have accommodated organized crime,
president, Frank Fitzsimmons, was not indicted
during his tenure and died a natural death in office in 1981.
His successor, Roy L. Williams, served as president from 1981
until 1983, when he was convicted of conspiracy to attempt to
bribe a United States Senator.2
Hoffa and Williams were indisputably direct
instruments of organized crime. Fitzsimmons established a measure
of detente whereby he was allowed to head the union, while organized
crime stole the workers' benefit funds and used the unions for
numerous criminal ventures. While the precise current relationship,
if any, between organized crime and the current IBT president,
Jackie Presser is not known to the Commission, Presser's past
activities indicate that he has associated with organized crime
figures and that he benefited from their support in his elevation
to the IBT Presidency in 1983.
In the late 1950's Jimmy Hoffa convinced
the American public that corruption and the Teamsters were synonymous.
His intransigence and arrogance at the McClellan Committee hearings
in 1957-1958 gave the public a personification of the evils of
corrupt leadership in a vital economic institution in this country.
According to Roy Williams, Hoffa was the first IBT leader over
whom organized crime had a "powerful hold." How organized
crime gained its control over Hoffa remains a matter of conjecture,
even for IBT officers like Roy Williams who were insiders during
the decades of Hoffa's rise, fall, and eventual
disappearance. Hoffa is reported to have
begun an unholy alliance with organized crime to obtain "mob"
muscle to fight management in the rough and tumble years of the
Teamster organizing drives of the 1930's. Others have theorized
that Hoffa came in contact with organized criminals through his
own personal ties.3 It is agreed, however, that Hoffa had relationships
with major organized crime figures, such as Nick Civella, and
Anthony "Tony Pro" Provenzano.4
It would be incorrect to explain organized
crime's power over the IBT solely in terms of the personal ties
between Hoffa or any other individual and organized crime. To
understand organized crime's attraction to the IBT, one must look
beyond personalities to the nature and structure of the trucking
Trucking operates primarily in a local rather
than a national product market; that is, if truckers refuse to
deliver materials to a plant or remove materials from a construction
site, the affected company is frequently unable to secure alternative
carriers. This was especially true prior to deregulation. Control
of the truckers thus provides leverage over thousands of businesses
dependent on Teamsters' deliveries. Moreover, trucking is characterized
by numerous under-capitalized firms, which have significantly
less economic staying power than the union itself. This disparity
in power allowed Hoffa, and to a lesser degree his successors,
to whipsaw or threaten individual companies whose survival would
be imperiled by labor strife.
Hoffa proved to be a master at manipulating
individual companies in this manner, but anyone who held the office
of IBT president might have succeeded in obtaining the same results.
Organized crime has also been attracted to
the IBT because it oversees hundreds of individual benefit funds,
including some of the largest union benefit funds, such as the
Central States Pension Fund, and because it generates significant
monies from the dues paid by its 1.6 million members. By controlling
the union racketeers can receive excessive salaries and benefits,
put friends and relatives on the payroll, and embezzle union monies.
In testimony taken by the Commission, Roy
Williams confirmed that organized crime has continued to maintain
a firm grip on the IBT long after Hoffa's reign. This chapter
will examine both Williams's and Presser's tenures at the IBT
and analyze the methods that organized crime has used to control
the IBT. In addition, it will develop profiles of mob influence
at certain select locals and describe how organized crime uses
violence and intimidation to quash opposition. Finally, by describing
the operations of a nationwide labor-leasing scheme involving
the LCN, corrupt Teamster officials, and legitimate corporations,
it will indicate how organized crime can use corrupt unions to
give organized crime businesses an edge in the market place.
Organized Crime's Influence and Corruption:
The Williams Administration
Roy Williams's rise in the Teamsters from
1981 to 1983 was directly linked to his association with organized
crime. Williams admitted to the Commission what law enforcement
believed for several decades: that Williams had a "special
relationship" with Nick Civella, the boss of the Kansas City
family of La Cosa Nostra. Williams and Civella were members
of an informal but powerful group of five men. The members of
this group, which changed over time, included Civella, Williams,
Bill Cerman, Tim Moran, and Sam Gross, the former head of the
Carpet Layers, Dyers and Cleaners Union. The "group of five"
met periodically to settle disputes and to decide which candidates
for public office would receive political nominations in the Kansas
The association between Williams and Civella
began in the mid-1950s after Williams, knowing Civella's position
as the head of the Kansas City LCN, met with Civella to discuss
their "relationship." The two agreed to assist and promote
each other. Civella would promote Williams's IBT career with other
mob-controlled IBT leaders, especially Hoffa, and reward Williams
financially. Williams, in turn, would promote Civella's interests,
by such means as the placement of people that Civella favored
in IBT or industry jobs, and the exertion of influence on
the Central States Pension Fund to make loans
and arrangements that would benefit organized crime.5
Civella became the man to see to get favors
from Williams and the Teamsters. Chicago La Cosa Nostra territorial
boss Joey "the Clown" Lombardo, who was convicted with
Williams for attempting to bribe a United States Senator, was
overheard by Federal agents importuning Civella:
Nick, you're the only one who can get to Williams, to have him listen and act. Williams has to be the one to do it, and it has to go through you.6
Other intercepts reveal that when members
of the Chicago LCN approached Civella to obtain favors from Williams,
Civella sometimes adopted a protective tone, saying, "I want
to protect Roy. He's a friend of mine."
Illustrative of Civella's hold over Williams
is a 1979 meeting of Williams, Civella, Allen Dorfman, and Sam
Ancona in Kansas City. Dorfman wanted significant new Central
States Pension Fund business to be directed to Morris Shenker,
Jimmy Hoffa's lawyer-confidant. Williams disagreed. As a result
of the disagreement, Williams had to attend a midnight session
at the house of an LCN associate at which Dorfman and Williams
presented their cases to Civella. Ultimately Civella sided with
Williams and tore up Dorfman's contract with Shenker.7 In this
instance Williams, an IBT president and a fiduciary for the
union, had to appeal a union decision to
the La Cosa Nostra crime boss of Kansas City.
Throughout the three decades of their arrangement
Williams and Civella met periodically. When Civella and Williams
could not meet or talk on the phone for fear of being observed
or overheard, Sam Ancona--an associate of the Kansas City La Cosa
Nostra, president of Teamsters Joint Council 56, and IBT International
representative--was messenger to both. Ancona and Williams exchanged
messages in the union's parking lot outside Williams' office.
As a reward Ancona used Williams's name and gained authority to
obtain favors and other assistance from other IBT officers.8
Roy Williams became president of the IBT
in large measure because he had the backing of organized crime.
When incumbent president Frank Fitzeimmons died, members of La
Cosa Nostra set out to choose a new Teamster president. Although
there was agreement that someone controlled by La Cosa Nostra
should be chosen, the negotiations centered on which faction would
have its candidate elected. The key groups were the Kansas City,
Chicago, Cleveland, and New York families. One of the participants
in these negotiations was Angelo Lonardo, underboss of the Cleveland
La Cosa Nostra. Lonardo, now serving a life sentence in federal
prison, has provided the FBI with inside information on precisely
Lonardo stated that the Cleveland LCN wanted
Jackie Presser to serve as IBT president, while the Kansas City
LCN wanted Williams. Nick Civella, boss of the Kansas City family,
informed Milton "Maishe" Rockman, a Cleveland LCN associate,
that Kansas City was intent on Williams's candidacy. Civella characterized
Williams as someone the LCN could "talk to." To obtain
support for Williams, Civella sought the assistance of the other
crime families across the country. They were asked to throw the
support of IBT locals they controlled to the Williams candidacy.
Ultimately, according to Lonardo, Civella
and Rockman made a deal. Rockman agreed that, if Jackie Presser
were to take Williams's place as head of the Central States Pension
Fund, the Cleveland family would see that Presser, persons loyal
to Presser, and the Cleveland LCN family would support Williams
and seek to obtain the approval of the arrangement from the Chicago
LCN family. Cleveland representatives Lonardo and Rockman met
with Jackie Cerone and Joey Aiuppa, ranking members of the Chicago
LCN. Cerone and Aiuppa claimed that they were skeptical of Williams
and stated that they were considering another candidate. They
were doubly suspicious of Presser, claiming that he was unreliable.
Rockman reassured them concerning Presser. The meeting broke up
without a decision, but within several days the Chicago LCN indicated
its agreement. Rockman told Lonardo that he had contacted Presser,
who agreed to support Williams's candidacy by producing delegates
According to Lonardo, the Cleveland La Cosa
Nostra family is not an independent group. Its leaders report
to and show "respect" to the New York-based Genovese
family. To obtain further support for their plans, the Cleveland
representatives flew to New York to meet Anthony "Fat Tony"
Salerno, boss of the Genovese family. Lonardo and Rockman explained
Civella's plans for Williams and Presser. Salerno stated that
he would throw his support to Williams through Salvatore Provenzano's
delegates. In return, Salerno sought favors, including a Teamster
local union charter for his friends.
As a result of these maneuvers, Williams
was ultimately elected president. Because Presser was never promoted
to the Central States Pension Fund, Rockman later instructed Presser
not to cooperate with Williams.
Williams stated that while he was IBT president,
he physically stayed out of the northeast portion of the United
States and did not attempt to control or influence what he characterized
as a Teamsters region dominated by the mob. Williams identified
locals in St. Louis, Chicago, Philadelphia, New York, New Jersey,
the West Coast, and elsewhere, as dominated or influenced by organized
crime. Williams admitted that these large locals had been under
the domination of organized crime for 30 years before he was elected
President. He said that trying to do something constructive about
the Provenzano's Local 560 or Harry Davidoff's Local 295 would
be tantamount to entering a
"viper's nest," and that, as IBT
president, he did not have the power or the "interest"
to take on organized crime in that manner.
Williams indicated that, during a period
of tension with the New Jersey branch of La Cosa Nostra,
he received anonymous calls at home telling him to "get right
with Tony Pro [venzano]". He said that no important IBT decision
can be made without taking into account organized crime's control
of the key union locals. Williams stated his belief that any IBT
president would be relatively powerless in the face of this mob
control: "They was here a long time before any of us ever
got here and they have got pretty powerful."9
Long before Williams assumed the presidency
of the IBT, Jimmy Hoffa shared pension fund kickbacks with Allen
Dorfman, a former asset manager and service provider to the Teamsters
Central States Pension Fund. Before Hoffa began serving his prison
sentence in 1963 he convened a meeting of the Fund trustees to
state, unequivocally, that Allen Dorfman was his spokesman while
he, Hoffa, served time in jail. Hoffa and Dorfman were the moving
forces behind the Central States Pension Fund's entry into speculative
real estate loans in Las Vegas, an action that eventually robbed
the Teamsters of millions of pension fund dollars and resulted
in the government's decision to place the Fund in receivership.10
During the Williams administration the mob's
desire to plunder the Central States Pension Fund continued. In
1979, at a meeting at the Crown Center Hotel in Kansas City, Nick
Civella met Central States Pension Fund "representatives"
Allen Dorfman and Sol Schwartz, and Chicago LCN member Joey Lombardo.
In their discussion about regaining control of the fund from the
government's asset managers, Joey Lombardo stated:
We got a lot of work to do. We got to get the Fund back. Get good lawyers. Got moves to make, lot of scheming to do . . . . we got to try to put it back together like it was. For now and for the future . . .11
Similar conversations took place at meetings
attended by Williams, Civella, and Dorfman.
The history of Allen Dorfman's dealings with
the Teamsters benefit funds illustrates the problems that have
plagued other multi-employer benefit funds. Even after his conviction
for accepting a $55,000 bribe or kickback while acting as a special
consultant to the Teamsters Central States Pension Fund,12 insurance
companies that Dorfman controlled continued to receive substantial
fees for handling various Teamsters funds' insurance business.
When Dorfman's contract to service the Fund was scheduled to be
re-evaluated, he offered Roy Williams, IBT president, 17 acres
of land at a California resort, known as La Costa, in return for
an automatic contract renewal. Williams claims that he turned
down the bribe, but the contract was renewed in any case.13
Any possibility that Dorfman would disclose
what he knew about the Teamsters-LCN association ended on January
20, 1983, when he was gunned down in a parking lot in Lincolnwood,
Illinois. Dorfman's murder took place one month after a federal
jury convicted Dorfman, Williams, Chicago LCN boss Joseph Lombardo,
a trustee of the Teamsters pension fund, Thomas F. O'Malley, and
an employee of the pension fund, Andrew G. Massa, for conspiring
to attempt to bribe United States Senator Howard Cannon of Nevada,
then Chairman of the Senate Commerce Committee. The defendants
conspired to offer Cannon favors from the Central States Pension
Fund in return for his influence to block or delay a measure to
deregulate trucking freight rates.
Williams used the Central States Pension
Fund, the Central Conference of Teamsters, and the IBT to pay
for his million dollar defense of conspiracy charges. Massa and
O'Malley received $1.3 million dollars from the fund for their
defense expenses. Dorfman received $1.7 million dollars for his
defense fees from his insurance firms, whose sole customers were
Teamsters entities. Both Dorfman and Joey Lombardo received the
considerable benefit of private investigators and transcription
services, for which the Central States Pension Fund paid.
In addition to paying the legal expenses
of Massa and O'Malley, another Teamster entity, the Central Conference
of Teamsters, paid Roy Williams $76,000 as its chairman during
the trial years. Neither Frank Fitzsimmons, Williams' predecessor
a chairman of the Central Conference, nor his immediate successor,
Jackie Presser, received a salary while occupying that position
at the Central Conference. During the same period, some members
of O'Malley's family received IBT-related jobs paying high salaries.14
In a consent decree with the Department of
Labor, the Central States benefit fund's insurance companies agreed
to pay the Fund $6.5 million for the payments of the legal defense
of IBT president Williams and his co-defendants, and for other
improper expenditures. In the one-year period after the repayment,
the Central States insurance premium was increased 352 percent,
to a staggering $2.7 million. None of the money was
ever recovered from Williams or the other
Labor racketeers who benefited from it.
Organized Crime's Influence and Corruption:
The Presser Administration
Angelo Lonardo, underboss of the Cleveland
LCN, who provided the FBI with details of the LCN's influence
over Roy Williams's election, also told the FBI how the LCN "chose"
Presser as Williams's successor. According to Lonardo, after Williams's
conviction of conspiracy to attempt to bribe Senator Cannon, the
LCN families again maneuvered to pick an acceptable candidate.
This time the Cleveland family took the lead for their candidate,
Jackie Presser. Lonardo participated in this effort by seeking
the Chicago family's support for Presser from Jackie Cerone. Cerone
again indicated that Chicago had its own candidate. Lonardo then
traveled to New York to seek the support of Anthony "Fat
Tony" Salerno and the Genovese family. Salerno agreed to
back Presser for the job. The methods that Salerno used to support
Presser have not been revealed, but Salerno's backing ultimately
made possible Presser's elevation to the Teamster presidency.
In addition to the LCN's help, Presser's
rise to power, like Williams's, was facilitated by the governance
structure of the IBT. Its structure and constitution have remained
substantially unaltered since Hoffa's reign. The officers of the
consist of a president, secretary-treasurer,
16 vice presidents, and numerous employees. All officers are elected,
but the union membership does not necessarily vote directly for
the candidates. The international officers are elected by local
delegates at a union convention held every five years, the maximum
interval permitted under the Landrum-Griffin Act. The locals send
delegates to the convention in proportion to their membership
strength. If organized crime influences a local, it names the
delegates to the convention.
Once international officers are in office,
they are able to favor and advance their allies through the IBT's
election and appointment system. The president and all vice presidents,
although drawn from different areas of the country, are elected
at large. To win union-wide office as a vice president, a union
member needs the support of the IBT president or persons who can
influence the president. With that support, the would-be office-holder
can be appointed to a vacancy in an international office and serve
during the long period between conventions. At the convention
he enjoys the benefit of incumbency, and his election is no more
than a ratification of his prior appointment.
The early years of Presser's career in the
IBT are instructive. Presser was initially appointed to head a
new local, Local 507, in Cleveland. Later, Frank Fitzsimmons,
at the urging of Roy Williams, appointed Presser a Teamster vice
president to fill a vacancy created by Bill Presser's ill health.
Presser's fellow vice presidents then elected
him IBT president to fill the remainder of convicted former president
Roy Williams' term. Thus Presser advanced to the IBT presidency
without ever having initially to submit himself to the ordeal
of an election by rank-and-file members for his various offices.
A review of the IBT vice presidents who serve
or have served on the union's executive board that elected Roy
L. Williams or Jackie Presser demonstrates how unlikely it is
that a reform minded Teamster president can be elected in the
near future. The following profiles describe only a handful of
the Teamsters vice presidents.
Maurice Shurr, former Philadelphia area vice
presider built his career at IBT Local 929 in Philadelphia, and
was particularly energetic in the benefit fund area. Shurr was
convicted of racketeering activities, including receiving payoffs
to provide labor peace over 11 years. Convicted with Shurr was Harry Roetsky, a
union business agent.15
Joseph Morgan, the Southern Conference area
vice president, was appointed to his post at the same time that
Roy Williams became an IBT vice president. Soon after his imprisonment
Hoffa sent a message, through his lawyer, to Frank Fitzsimmons
that both Williams and Morgan should be made vice presidents.
According to Williams, Morgan is significantly
influenced by organized crime figures.16
Joseph Treretola is an international vice
president in the New York area and president of Joint Council
16, the largest of the IBT joint councils. He obtained his vice
presidential post only after the New York LCN gave its approval.
Roy Williams stated that, although he had no reason to doubt Treretola's
personal honesty, he knows that Treretola is blind to the rampant
mob control of the locals that constitute Joint Council 16, and
to the influence of organized crime in the IBT generally.17
M. E. "Andy" Anderson was a powerful
director of the Western Conference of Teamsters. Roy Williams
stated that Anderson had a very close relationship with labor
consultant Sidney Korshak; according to Williams, organized crime
controlled Anderson's local.18 In 1979 Nick Civella stated, "Anderson
has trouble with his own people. The union guys hate him. He was
supposed to be eliminated a long time ago. It was my firm, firm
understanding that he was out.''l9
Harold J. Gibbons was an IBT vice president
who, for a time, turned his St. Louis local into a model of achievement
on behalf of his workers. By the end of his career in the early
1980's, however, Gibbons had learned to co-exist with organized
crime. He had an understanding with Jimmy Hoffa to refrain from
publicly criticizing Hoffa's dealings with the Provenzanos and
Dorfman. Gibbons's reluctance to renounce
organized crime's involvement in the IBT is attributed to his
greed or fear that Hoffa would have him killed if he crossed Hoffa
or the gangsters.20
Salvatore "Sammy" Provenzano of
New Jersey succeeded his brother, LCN Genovese family soldier
Tony Provenzano, as international vice president. Judge Harold
Ackerman, who ordered the Provenzanos' Local 560 into trusteeship
under the civil RICO statute characterized Salvatore Provenzano,
a 30-year IBT veteran, as a person who wields great power for
....Sam and Nunzio played musical chairs in minding the store for Tony to satisfy the technical requirements of the law. At some point in the '70's, Sam came into his own. With power at his finger tips, he ran the show and still does. Did he stay 'more or less' clean. . . .He did not. Most of the time he helped to steer the ship the way Tony wanted it and made sure the same crew remained on board. . . .Was he naive, blind or deaf? No. Salvatore Provenzano, in my judgment, knows the truth and is oblivious to it.21
Even before assuming the IBT presidency,
Jackie Presser had compiled an extensive record of organized
crime associations. Presser ascended in the union hierarchy through
organizations, particularly Cleveland Local 507 and Cleveland
Joint Council 41, that were infested with LCN associates and convicted
felons. For example, officials of Presser's hometown Local 507
included John Trunzo, a former business agent of Local 507, convicted
"shaking-down" Cleveland employers
for labor peace payments; John J. "Skippy" Felice, Jr.,
an associate of the Cleveland La Cosa Nostra, convicted of embezzling
funds from IBT Local 73, where he was vice president, and from
Local 293, where he was secretary-treasurer; and John Nardi, a
Local 507 "ghost" employee, convicted of embezzling
$110,000, and chauffeur and bodyguard for Cleveland La Cosa Nostra
member Anthony Liberatore. This record belies Presser's promise,
in Senate testimony, of a "new era" for the Teamsters
In the 1970's, Presser and his longtime associate
Harold Friedman, two of the top officers in Local 507, paid themselves
almost 40 percent of the members' dues as salaries. When he became
IBT president, one of Presser's first appointments was to name
Friedman, a convicted felon, as an IBT vice president. In 1984
Presser earned approximately $755,000 for his services as IBT
president, president of the Central Conference of Teamsters, president
of the Ohio Conference of Teamsters, president of Joint Council
41, and secretary-treasurer and business manager of Cleveland
While Presser served as secretary-treasurer
of Local 507, Allen Friedman, Presser's uncle, was also on the
payroll of the local and received $1,000 per week. Friedman was
a "ghost" employee who performed no work, and he was
convicted of embezzling $165,000 from the local. Presser relied
on the "ghost" investigation as a basis for refusing
to answer the
Commission's inquiries.24 Although the Department
of Justice's Organized Crime Strike Force in Cleveland recommended
prosecution of Presser on charges of fraud and conspiracy, because
he signed the payroll checks for Friedman and other "ghost"
employees, officials in the Department decided not to indict Presser.
Recent press accounts have stated that Presser had been a government
informant, and have attributed the demise of the Strike Force
investigation to that relationship. In any case, Friedman and
Nardi have now been released from imprisonment, thereby making
further public disclosures on this subject unlikely, although
the United States Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations
and the Committee on Labor and Human Resources have announced
intentions to investigate the matter further.
In the 1970's, Jackie Presser was also an
integral part of a multi-year contract between the IBT and Hoover-Gorin
and Associates, a public relations firm. Under the terms of the
contract, the IBT was to pay the firm $1.3 million per year for
advertising and public relations work, including a $350,000 retainer.
The choice of Hoover-Gorin and Associates was a surprise because,
prior to obtaining the IBT contract, the firm had gross receipts
of less than $20,000 per year, and the firm's partners were completely
inexperienced in public relations work. Hoover was a Nevada disc
jockey and car rental agency employee. His partners, Abner Gorin
and Harry Haler, had no public relations experience.
IBT officers instructed Hoover-Gorin and
Associates to spend some of the IBT public relations money in
Cleveland. Cleveland LCN capo Anthony Liberatore, an official
of Laborers Local 860, received $2,000 per month for a job promoting
the Teamsters. Liberatore, who served 20 years for killing two
policemen, actually did nothing for this monthly retainer. Another
associate of the Cleveland LCN family and a distant relative of
Liberatore, Tom Lanci, also received $2,000. Lanci rented an office
to Hoover-Gorin, but it was simply a front. Lanci told the Commission
that he had also been a ghost employee and did nothing to earn
the salary paid to him by Hoover-Gorin.25 Subsequent to his involvement
with Hoover-Gorin, Lanci was convicted of participating in the
murder of Danny Green, a Teamster official. Both Liberatore and
Lanci were convicted of bribing an FBI clerk to obtain the names
of secret informants on the Cleveland LCN family.
According to Hoover-Gorin partner Harry Haler,
Presser received substantial kickbacks from various participants
who profited from the Hoover-Gorin public relations contract.
The Justice Department investigated Presser's role in the Hoover-Gorin
affair, but ultimately took no action against him.
Presser's past also includes other instances
of misconduct. including a bribe offer to Roy Williams as trustee
of the Central States Pension Fund, the alleged receipt of payoffs
in a corrupt labor-leasing scheme, and questionable investment
transactions in the Front Row Theater in Cleveland.
According to sworn testimony by Roy Williams,
in 1974 or 1975 Jackie Presser, then a trustee of the Central
States Pension Fund, offered a bribe to Williams, who was then
an IBT vice president and Central States Pension Fund trustee.
Presser sought Williams's active support and vote for a loan related
to the Tropicana Casino and Hotel in Las Vegas, Nevada. The meeting
between Williams and Presser took place probably in Chicago. The
bribe was not consummated, however, and the Tropicana loan allegedly
sought by Presser was never made.26 Although Presser and Williams
were alone when the bribe was offered, Central State Pension Fund
records indicate that in 1975 Tropicana made a one-page loan application
seeking $49 million for the Hotel Conquistador, Inc., doing business
as Tropicana Hotel and Country Club of Las Vegas.
Receipt of Payoffs Related to the Labor-Leasinq
Schemes of Eugene Boffa
In the 1970's Eugene Boffa, an associate
of La Cosa Nostra boss Russell Bufalino, of Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania,
and the Provenzano family of New Jersey's IBT Local 560, created
owned a series of labor-leasing companies
throughout the country These labor-leasing companies provided
truck drivers and labor peace to the corporations that hired them.
The corporations would fire all of their drivers, Boffa would
rehire them at a reduced wage, and they would resume work for
their previous employer. Boffa received contractual payments and
the corporations reduced their labor costs. If a corporation did
not voluntarily hire one of Boffa's companies, Boffa employees
or corrupt union officials created labor disputes to suggest the
need for labor peace, which then could be "guaranteed"
through the use of Boffa's leased labor.
Roy Williams confirmed that certain Teamster
officials-including international vice president Sam Provenzano,
Teamster joint council president and Kansas City La Cosa Nostra
family associate Sam Ancona, IBT Local 326 president Frank Sheeran,
and then-international vice president Jackie Presser--helped Boffa
to mollify and threaten honest Teamster officials into accepting
Boffa's way of doing business. The high-ranking officers occasionally
arranged bribes to local officials for selling out their membership.
Boffa was ultimately convicted of racketeering and sentenced to
imprisonment, largely because of the testimony of self-described
"leg-breaker" Robert Rispo, who later became a protected
In testimony before the Commission, Rispo
stated that Jackie Presser was a recipient of Boffa's bribes.
On at least one occasion, Rispo testified he was the courier who
delivered a cash payment directly to Presser. Afterwards, Presser
told Boffa not to use Rispo or anyone else to make such payoffs.
Rispo described instances where Presser intervened on behalf of
Boffa, when the bribe paid to a Teamster local official was less
than the official had expected.27 Presser also participated in
making arrangements to switch to Boffa's labor-leasing companies.
In a typical switch, agreements were drawn to reduce compensation
to union workers and actions were taken to dismiss dissidents
When he appeared at Commission depositions
and at the public hearing, Presser consistently refused to answer
questions concerning his actions, invoking his Fifth Amendment
privilege against compulsory self-incrimination.
The Front Row Theatre in Cleveland, Ohio,
is a theater-in-the-round which features live performances by
entertainers. In late 1974 Jackie Presser invested a nominal sum
in the Theatre, and he has been quoted as acknowledging that he
became a millionaire through this investment.28
Two months after Presser became an investor
in the Theatre, he began a one-year tenure, from February 1975
to February 1976, as a trustee of the Central States Pension Fund,
while his father Bill Presser was imprisoned for one year.
The transactions involving the Theatre, its
purchase by a group of investors that include Presser, and its
sale and subsequent sale back to the group of original owners
minus Presser, are highly suspect. A review of the records obtained
by the Commission -- including documents subpoenaed from the Theatre's
lending institution, the Theatre's accounting firm, the company
that purchased and then sold back the Theatre, and the published
remarks of Presser -- raises questions whether the Front Row Theatre
was used as a vehicle to provide approximately one million dollars
to Presser for unspecified favors, and whether Jackie Presser
breached a fiduciary duty by failing to disclose to the Department
of Labor his profit from the sale of the Theatre. The sale was
to an entity that employed Teamsters and was consummated during
the time Presser served as a fiduciary of the Teamsters Central
States Pension Fund. Presser himself invoked his Fifth Amendment
privilege in refusing to answer the Commission's questions about
his transactions with the Front Row Theatre on the ground that
his answers might incriminate him. The Commission has referred
this matter to the Department of Justice for possible criminal
Violence as an Instrument of Organized
Crime's Control of the Teamsters
Title I of the Labor Management Reporting
and Disclosure Act (LMRDA) guarantees all union members various
rights, including the right to nominate candidates, to vote in
elections or referenda of a labor organization, to attend membership
meetings, to participate in the deliberations, and to vote on
business at such meetings. Members also have the right to meet
and assemble freely with other members and to express their views,
arguments, and opinions.
Organized crime-influenced unions, including
the IBT, rely on fear and violence to deny these rights to members.
The violence takes many forms, literally ranging from verbal harassment
to murder, to quell all forms of dissent, criticism, and opposition.
Violence need not be an everyday occurrence. Occasional "examples"
are often sufficient to persuade members that any opposition may
create a substantial risk of injury or death.
Within the IBT there is an organized dissident
group of Teamsters, known as Teamsters for a Democratic Union
(TDU). TDU is extremely critical of the union's current leadership,
has been of past IBT leaders. On October
15-16, 1983, TDU held its annual meeting at a Hilton Hotel in
Romulus, Michigan, outside of Detroit. TDU members rented rooms
and a meeting hall and met to express their view.
On the first day of the TDU convention, another
group of Teamsters--the Brotherhood of Loyal Americans and Strong
Teamsters (BLAST), which was founded to oppose TDU and to support
the IBT international leadership--set out to disrupt the meeting.
BLAST is composed of Teamster members and officials and is backed
by incumbent Teamster officials in Ohio and Michigan, including
IBT president Jackie Presser. BLAST members travelled to Romulus
in cars and at least nine chartered buses, from Cleveland, Youngstown,
Columbus, Dayton, and Toledo, Ohio, and from Jackson, Flint, and
At the TDU meeting site, the BLAST members
shouldered aside a policeman, tried to wrest his service revolver
out of his holster, and pulled his keys and hat off and threw
them away. The BLAST group took over the microphone at the podium,
ran the TDU members out of the meeting hall, and tore down banners.
Order was restored only after local, county, and state police
arrived on the scene.
On the following day, TDU members at the
convention received anonymous bomb threats at the Hilton Hotel.
Police searched the premises but found no bombs. The BLAST participants
October 15 raid were not rank and file Teamsters.
Records from the National Labor Relations Board indicate that
the participants in this raid included two local IBT presidents,
one local IBT vice president, two IBT secretary-treasurers, three
union trustees, one organizer, and at least ten IBT business agents.
The BLAST raid is not simply another instance
of violence against dissenters. It is violence specifically endorsed
by the union president, which demonstrates the ability of the
president's officers and close associates to carry out such violence
with impunity. At the October 31, 1983, meeting of Teamsters Joint
Council 41, in Cleveland, Ohio, IBT president and president of
Joint Council 41, Jackie Presser, praised Teamster officials who
led the raid against the TDU convention. The Commission subpoenaed
copies of this transcript from the IBT in which Presser remarked:
I want to say something to you. I know all about that BLAST program taking Place in Michigan. I must have gotten a hundred calls. I know exactly what happened there. I was pleased to see that there are Teamsters that want to stop all that crap, but I want to say something to all of you that I think is very dramatic, okay.
* * *
The thing that affected me the most about last Sunday in Detroit, Michigan, was that there were a lot of guys there, I got the pictures of who was there. I could have imagined a lot of stronger, tougher guys going there, and tough truck drivers, but I was looking through the pictures, and you know who was in the front line of a real wild fight with state highway patrolmen and police there?
The Secretary/Treasurer of our Joint Council, Bill Evans, who's had two heart attacks. I wouldn't have let him go there in a hundred years. . . . There's plenty of locals that can send 4, 5, 10 guys. I really got upset because I saw Bill there. His value is too great to me and to this Council.
. . . Bill, I want to tell you, you're a hell of a guy to take it on yourself. I would have been there, but I'm not you.
He was screaming and fighting and shoving and pushing and swinging like the rest of them, so you know, when the chips are down, that's where it's all at.
* * *
I'm going to tell you something. We should be doing more of that. I'm going to tell you, I'm not going to let up on these people. . . . (emphasis added).
Presser also praised other union officers
from Michigan and Ohio who participated in the BLAST raid. IBT
officials distributed copies of Presser's comments for display
at union halls in Ohio. Presser invoked his Fifth Amendment privilege
when questioned about this incident.29
Finally, evidence before the Commission suggests
that union funds may have been used to support the activities
of BLAST. While the secretary-treasurer of IBT Joint Council 41,
William Evans, disclaimed all knowledge about the source of payment
for the buses used in the BLAST raid, he told the Commission that
no collection was taken up to pay for the buses. In addition,
the IBT local and Joint Council officers who attended or sanctioned
their members' participation in the BLAST raid were respondents
in civil litigation seeking injunctions against their activities,
a National Labor Relations Board complaint for the same subject,
and a civil damage action. The Commission questioned Jackie
Presser and IBT counsel John Climaco about
whether union monies were spent to support the raid and its legal
aftermath. Despite several oral and-written requests for a response,
there has been no definitive response from- the IBT or Presser.
It is therefore possible to infer that IBT members' dues were
used to rent the buses and to hire lawyers to defend the participants
in the raid.
The BLAST raid is not the only instance in
which IBT members have resorted to violence against union dissidents.
For example, on December 4, 1983, the Detroit metro chapter of
TDU held a membership meeting in Detroit, Michigan. Toward the
end of that meeting, BLAST members, who had previously left when
police arrived, returned and broke down a door that was being
held secure by TDU members. In their subsequent attempt to gain
entry to the meeting, the BLAST members assaulted several TDU
members. At least one TDU member required stitches, and another
was cut with a knife.
Indeed, even the Commission's own investigations
have been affected by violence. A six-foot four-inch shop steward
of Chicago IBT Local 705 beat a rank-and-file member because he
attended the Commission's public hearing on labor racketeering
in Chicago. While beating him, the shop steward asked the member
if he wanted to go to more "hearings."
The plight of rank-and-file members, once
their unions slip under the control of mobsters, was vividly
described by Charles Allen, self-confessed killer and "strong
arm" man for LCN members Russell Bufalino and Tony Provenzano
in IBT and HEREIU union locals in the Pennsylvania, New Jersey,
and Delaware areas. In 1982, in testimony before the Senate Permanent
Subcommittee on Investigations, Allen described his responsibilities
for the 10,000-member HEREIU Local 54 of Ralph Natale and Albert
Diadone in Atlantic City and the 2,500-member IBT Local 326 of
Frank Sheeran in Wilmington, Delaware:
Allen:I actually did anything I was told to do, from murder to selling drugs, from extortion to beating up people, highjacking. Whatever they told me to I did.
Sen. Rudman:And as a matter of fact, by your testimony, you would do what was asked of you?
Sen. Rudman:So that if it looked like some legitimate union or a person were going to move into the leadership position in the union and you were told to go down and make sure they were discouraged or something like that, you would do that?
Sen. Rudman:Including beating up people?
Sen. Rudman:Including murdering people?
The point of recounting instances of evidence
related to violence is not simply to demonstrate that they occur.
It is to show that the aggregate effect of such violence is to
sap the ability and willingness of rank-and-file members to regain
control of corrupt locals. Until IBT members are free to criticize
their union officers without fear of retaliation, there is little
or no chance that efforts other than those of law enforcement
can turn the union back to its members.
The "Electric Chair": Organized
Crime Threats to Teamster Presidents
There is no doubt that organized crime is
fully capable of terrorizing and killing rank-and-file Teamsters.
The disappearance of Hoffa in 1975 suggests that such terrorist
tactics can also be directed at union leaders. Hoffa's disappearance
was only one event in a pattern of mob terrorism against IBT presidents
and high-ranking officers. Both before and after that disappearance,
every Teamsters president since Dave Beck has been threatened
with death by organized crime.
Such threats serve to remind Teamsters presidents
that the LCN should get whatever it wants and expects from the
IBT. To reinforce this understanding is important to organized
crime, as a series of Teamsters leaders in the past 30 years were
beholden to, or deeply in fear of, the LCN. The following exchange
in 1979 between Joseph Hauser, who looted the Central States Pension
Fund of millions of dollars, and New Orleans La Cosa Nostra boss
Carlos Marcello, shows that the individual
officers are not of interest.
Hauser:Who you closer with, the guy in Kansas City [Roy Williams] or the guy from St. Louis, Missouri [Harold Gibbons]?
Marcello:It don't make no difference, either one of 'em. It's all the same.31
During the 1960's, as they left a hotel,
IBT president Jimmy Hoffa directed Roy Williams not to walk near
him. Hoffa told Williams to do this for his own safety because
the Detroit La Costa Nostra family was violently displeased with
Hoffa and had sent a signal that Hoffa would be killed. According
to Williams, Hoffa made a pilgrimage to Detroit to rectify the
problem. Williams remarked that Hoffa did not "make a move"
without the approval of the "boys" [LCN in Detroit.32
During his imprisonment in the 1960's, Hoffa
shared quarters at one time with Tony Provenzano. Provenzano later
told Roy Williams that he developed an intense dislike for Hoffa
during that period. Partly because of Provenzano's opinion, Williams
said it was no surprise to him that Hoffa was murdered in order
to prevent him from making another bid for the international leadership.33
Frank Fitzsimmons was also the target of
mob death threats. At one point during his presidency, Fitzsimmons
confessed to Williams that he was "in worse trouble in Detroit
than Jimmy Hoffa ever was."34 Eventually, Fitzsimmons achieved
of detente with the Detroit LCN, apparently
agreeing to give them authority in their running of IBT locals.
Prior to becoming president of the IBT, Jackie
Presser allegedly characterized that office as an "electric
chair" and a "death chair." Presser discussed the
success of government prosecutions of IBT presidents Beck and
Hoffa and noted:
[I]f you are totally honest and if you try to clean up the union. . . and you try to do it fast enough and without accommodations so the government won't get you, the other guys - the hoods - will get you. Just like they got Hoffa when he threatened them. So that's a death chair either way.35
During the 1970's, when two factions of the
Cleveland La Cosa Nostra engaged in a bloody battle for
control of illegal businesses in that city, Presser was the target
of such death threats. Presser told Roy Williams that he, Presser,
had backed the "wrong" faction in the mob and that his
life was in danger. During this period, Presser relied on personal
bodyguards and, according to Williams, eventually things returned
Organized Crime and Teamster Locals
Organized crime cannot control a union's
international officer without controlling important locals in
that union. The list of locals controlled or influenced by organized
crime is long and sobering. On the basis of information from federal
law enforcement agencies, the Commission has found a documented
relationship between La Cosa Nostra organized crime factions
and 36 influenced Teamster local unions, 1 joint council, and
a conference. Profiles of several IBT locals demonstrate the pervasive
hold that organized crime has over various local Teamster bodies.
New Jersey Local 560: Organized Crime
"Captures" a Local
For more than two decades, organized crime
controlled Teamsters Local 560 in Northern New Jersey. Its control
was so pervasive that in 1984, the civil racketeering provisions
of a federal law (RICO) were used for the first time to impose
a trusteeship on a local union. Judge Harold Ackerman, who presided
over the case, found that organized crime had "captured"
Local 560, its welfare and pension funds, and its severance pay
plan. He ordered all members of Local 560's executive board removed
and put the local into trusteeship until such time as the membership
can freely nominate and elect new officers.37
Under the leadership of Anthony Provenzano, Local 560 was used for more than 20 years by a "group of gangsters, aided and abetted by their relatives and sycophants," who engaged in a "multifaceted orgy of criminal activity" against the rank-and-file membership.38 Anthony "Tony Pro" Provenzano began as a business agent for Local 560 in 1954, became president of the Local in 1958, and later served as secretary-treasurer between 1975 and 1978. Lapses in his union service were ceased by several prison sentences he served for offenses ranging from extortion to murder.
First convicted of extorting labor peace
payoffs between 1952 and 1959, Provenzano was later convicted
of conspiracy to receive kickbacks relating to a proposed loan
from a Teamsters benefit fund. In 1978, he was sentenced to life
imprisonment for the 1961 murder of Local 560 secretary-treasurer
Anthony Castellito, who was a contender for Provenzano's office
in Local 560. Finally, in 1979, Provenzano was convicted on RICO
charges for receipt of labor peace payoffs from the Seatrain Corporation.
Convictions and jail sentences did not deter
Provenzano from consolidating and exercising his control over
Local 560. His brothers, Nunzio and Sam, acted for him in his
absence. The Provenzanos and their organized crime associates
were allegedly responsible for the May 24, 1963, murder of IBT
member Walter Glockner, who protested the appointment of a member
of the Provenzano ring as a business agent. After a shouting and
pushing incident at the union hall, Glockner was murdered in
front of his house. The members of Local
560 never again made a serious attempt to protest the Provenzanos'
rule. Union members knew that dissent could earn them a death
sentence. As Judge Ackerman wrote in connection with the murder
of Anthony Castellito:
The disappearance [of Castellito] generated a perception among the membership that anyone who represented an actual or potential threat to the Provenzano Group's dominance and control over Local 560 ran the risk of physical injury. The nature and intensity of that perception has been such that it survives to the present day.39
Tony "Pro" Provenzano used his
control of the local to increase his salary between 1962 and 1963
from $20,000 to $95,000. Business agent Stephen Andretta--later
convicted of loansharking, counterfeiting, and extortion--had
his salary raised to $95,000 a year during the same period. Both
Provenzano's and Andretta's salaries exceeded IBT president Jimmy
Hoffa's salary at the time. Provenzano family members were also
provided with jobs. Tony "Pro's" daughter, Josephine
Provenzano, was elected secretary-treasurer at age 23, and received
a salary of $64,000. Asked to state why she was appointed, she
told the court "because. . . I was a Provenzano."40
Other criminals also participated in the
looting of Local. For his part in the Castellito murder, Salvatore
Briguglio was rewarded with the role of business agent. Briguglio
was later convicted of grand larceny and counterfeiting, and was
suspected of having participated in the
murder of Jimmy Hoffa. Ironically, Briguglio
himself was eventually murdered at the time of the indictment
of Castellito's killers.
The officers of Local 560 also used the union
to extort millions of dollar. from trucking companies which paid
for labor peace and the right to do business. They took millions
more in payoffs from cooperating companies eager to enter into
sweetheart contracts providing for reduced labor rates. Some employees
of Local 560, forced to work under sweetheart contracts signed
by the Provenzanos, received few of the promised benefits of the
IBT Master Freight Agreement. The officers of Local 560 also conspired
with benefit plan administrators to embezzle in excess of $160,000
from the union's dental program and to cover the theft by falsifying
documents. Some of the conspirators received thousands of dollars
of free dental services, while rank-and-file members had to pay
for their treatment.
Roy Williams stated in Commission testimony
that the officers of the international were fully aware of the
violence, extortion, and embezzlement that Local 560 officers
were committing. Williams stated that even as IBT president he
could do nothing about the problem.41 The reason for this was
that after capturing Local 560, the Provenzanos and other organized
crime nominees "captured" the international.
For two decades a member of the Provenzano
family was a member of the IBT's Executive Board. The Provenzanos
were consulted on the appointment of other union vice-presidents.
Salvatore Provenzano was named leader of the Eastern Conference
of Teamsters. Instead of placing the local in a trusteeship and
electing a clean slate of officers, the international confirmed
the control of the Provenzanos. Only extraordinary effort by the
Departments of Justice and Labor, including the first use of the
civil provisions of the RICO statute, led to the unprecedented
decision by a federal court to take control of the local and wrest
it from the hands of organized crime.
IBT Local 814, which services moving companies,
is influenced by the Bonanno and Genovese organized crime families.
Organized crime uses the local to extort labor peace payoffs from
moving and storage companies in the New York area. The depth of
organized crime's influence has led witnesses to refuse to testify
before grand juries concerning the local, perhaps because they
are afraid of organized crime's retaliation should they answer.
In January 1984 the United States District Court for the Eastern
District of New York held John Konovitch, shop steward for Local
814, in contempt and ordered his incarceration for failure to
answer grand jury questions.
The corruption within the union spills over
into the industry. In January 1984, the same District Court ordered
Frank Narcisco, owner of the largest moving and storage company
in New York City, held in contempt and jailed for his failure
to answer questions before a grand jury.
Potential witnesses' fear of violence is
not unfounded. In 1982, Anthony Gilberti, the vice president of
Local 814, was shot nine times but survived, and has since entered
the government's witness protection program.
IBT Local 295 in New York represents the
truck drivers and warehousemen of the air freight forwarding and
trucking businesses. This representation enables Local 295 substantially
to control John F. Kennedy Airport in Queens, New York. Recent
court-authorized electronic surveillance indicates that Local
295 is controlled by the Davidoff family. Harry Davidoff, the
patriarch, is a veteran of Murder, Inc., a 1930's-era group of
organized crime hit men. His son and daughter are also employees
of the locals. Frank Calise, an LCN associate, is the local's
IBT Local 851 also represents employees at
John F. Kennedy Airport, including clerical employees who review
bills of lading of the air freight forwarding companies. In certain
however, Locals 851 and 295 are indistinguishable:
their benefit funds are inveated jointly, and Harry Davidoff,
who has served Local 295, is the vice president of Local 851 and
his son Mark Davidoff is secretary-treasurer.
Davidoff's partnership with the Luchese crime
family is currently the subject of an indictment in the Eastern
District of New York. The indictment charges that Davidoff engaged
in a variety of racketeering activities at the airport with LCN
capo Paul Vario and LCN soldier Frank Manzo, and his associates,
John Russo and William Barone. The complaint specifically alleges
that certain air freight forwarding companies were not allowed
to merge until certain payoffs were made to organized crime.
Local 813, which serves the carting industry
in New York, is operated by Bernie Adelstein. Adelstein's power
in the Teamsters is reflected in the fact that he ran for an IBT
Joint Council office to keep the son of Anthony Corallo, boss
of the LCN Luchese family, from winning the position. Adelstein
has a long-standing relationship with the Luchese family and with
Paul Castellano, deceased boss of the Gambino family.
A recent investigation by the New York State
Organized Crime Task Force produced a number of court-authorized
surveillance intercepts concerning Local
813. One conversation indicates that while Adelstein continues
to work with La Cosa Nostra, the families are dissatisfied with
their degree of control. To increase their control in the carting
industry, Salvatore Avellino, a member of La Cosa Nostra, discussed
with two carters the need to create a new local, Local 813A. On
June 28, 1983, LCN member Salvatore Avellino began this conversation
by discussing the "control" issue:
Salvatore Avellino:813 is yours, "A" is ours and yours together. But now that we know it's the dog wagging the tail 'cause if we gonna go work. . . and we're gonna put these, ah, ah, 200, 300 people in it. Not let's take somebody, let's take a son, son-in- law, somebody put them into the office. They got a job. Let's take somebody's daughter, whatever -she's the secretary. Let's staff it with -
--With our people, and
when we say go break this guy's balls-
Salvatore Avellino: --
They're there 7:00
o'clock in morning to break this guy's bails
Emedio Fazzini: --
With an "A"
or whatever, and there we won't be under Bernie [Adelsteinl
all the way, and meantime it will be-
You follow me.
Let Bernie [Adelstein]
have all the five (5) boroughs, Nassau/ Suffolk is "A".
Thomas Ronga:What them two rebels [Aponte and Gonzalez]42 wanted to do.
In a subsequent conversation, Avellino provides
evidence that the LCN already controls the carters management
association (the Private Sanitation Industry Association of Nassau/Suffolk
Counties, Incorporated), but wants total control of the union
itself, which it believes is better than controlling the employers:
The IBT, Labor-Leasinq corporations, and Organized Crime
Emedio Fazzini:You've got to control the man; that's the power
Salvatore Avellino:That's the power.
Emedio Fazzini:You gotta control the workers (inaudible) right now you control the employers
Salvatore Avellino:Do you understand me, now when you got a guy that steps out of line and this and that, now you got the whip. You got the [expletive deleted] whip. This is what he [Corallo] tells me all the time, "a strong union makes money for everybody, including the wise guys." The wise guys even make more money with a strong union.
Salvatore Avellino:Because, because the envelopes [kickbacks] could be bigger and better
One case study demonstrates most clearly
how the cooperation of La Cosa Nostra, corrupt Teamster officials,
and corporations can result in a concerted scheme to obtain a
Beginning in the late 1960s, Eugene Boffa,
Sr. created and controlled more than 30 labor-leasing companies
throughout the country. The companies were located in 30 states--including
California, Illinois, Missouri, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania
and Texas, as well as in Canada and Puerto Rico. While these companies
held themselves out as separate and individual concerns, in fact
all of them were controlled by Boffa, and later his son, Robert
Boffa. Many of the legitimate corporations, which used the services
of these labor-leasing companies, were fully aware that the various
entities were all connected to Boffa.
A Boffa labor-leasing company acted as the
employer of IBT-organized truck drivers and warehousemen. A corporation
needing drivers at particular locations would contract with the
Boffa company and receive the needed drivers, as well as their
replacements, when regular employees were sick or on vacation.
Boffa promoted his business by creating labor
problems at both organized and unorganized job sites, frequently
through a corrupt union official who had been bribed. At an unorganized
shop, the bribed union official would threaten a union recognition
campaign and then "suggest" that Boffa's intervention
could alleviate such problems. If the job
site was already organized, the official would threaten wildcat
strikes and slow downs. Once a Boffa company was selected as the
labor leasing source, the company would fire its work force and
"lease" the same labor services from Boffa. Boffa generally
hired only those "discharged" employees who were not
expected to be troublesome or to question the new arrangements.
Boffa would then "lease" the services of those employees
to their former employers.
Boffa's contracts invariably hurt the workers
affected by the leasing arrangements. Sometimes wages would be
reduced but, more generally, changes would be made in less obvious
contract items. For example, routine work rules would be suspended
for the benefit of the corporation. Drivers would not be paid
"clean up" time or for the periods they remained in
the terminal. Mileage and other indirect wage formulas might be
altered. Troublesome employees not weeded out at the beginning
of the labor-leasing contract would be discharged or offered work
at distant locations. Because union officers were receiving kickbacks
from Boffa, fired individuals seldom obtained favorable rulings
from these officers at their grievance hearings. Drivers were
often required to use unsafe equipment. Furthermore, because Boffa
was the "employer," striking workers could only picket
Boffa's office, not the corporation utilizing their services.
In these and other ways a Boffa contract benefited the employer,
who paid Boffa approximately 10 percent above his gross payroll
costs as a "service fee." One Boffa labor-leasing
official remarked that the central benefit
of labor peace "was a return to plantation days for employers."43
Boffa's operation could not have succeeded
without his La Cosa Nostra connections. Boffa was an associate
of the powerful La Cosa Nostra boss Russell Bufalino of
Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania. In addition, the New Jersey Provenzano
family acted as his partner, protector, promoter, and base of
power, as well as a connection to the New York Genovese family.
Boffa combined these organized crime partnerships with assistance
from corrupt union officers who were willing to accept bribes
and kickbacks. Teamster vice presidents Sam Provenzano and Jackie
Presser, and Joint Council president Sam Ancona were the most
important of these individuals because they provided a network
of union friends who could be influenced and exert influence on
behalf of Boffa. Frank Sheeran, president of Local 326 in Wilmington,
Delaware, was another partner of Boffa in creating labor problems
or guaranteeing labor peace, whichever was required under the
particular scheme. Sheeran also reported to Russell Bufalino.
Boffa himself was the conduit for almost all bribes paid to LCN
members and union officials. LCN associate Nicholas Robilotto
of IBT Local 215 in Albany, New York worked with Boffa, as did
Robert Groves of IBT Local 910 in Ohio.44
Occasionally, Boffa's corporate clients demanded
that Boffa reduce labor costs even further. Boffa accomplished
this by engaging in corporate shell games designed to reduce the
and benefits of the employees who worked
for him. First, Boffa terminated all employees and the existing
contract with a corporate client. Another Boffa-controlled company
would then be chosen to supply labor services and would sign a
new contract for less money, thus cutting the wages and benefits
of the newly-rehired workers. As Robert Rispo, an enforcer for
Boffa, described it, the drivers had no choice but to accept 90
percent or 80 percent of their former salary because "half
a job is better than no job."45 Any worker who protested
too much was not rehired, and payoffs to union officials left
the workers without an avenue for redress of grievances.
David Kelly, traffic manager for the Continental
Can Corporation, told the Commission that Boffa companies won
the right to enter into leasing contracts with his company by
submitting the most attractive bid, and that he was unaware that
Boffa owned more than one company involved in the shell games.46
His testimony was refuted at trial by several witnesses, and the
record before the Commission shows that most corporate managers
knew or should have known exactly what was occurring. As Bobby
Rispo noted, "it boils down to without the union, the corporate
people, and us [Boffa and his connections], the scheme wouldn't
Eventually, Boffa's scheme unraveled. Several
cars driven by LCN members and union officials in Detroit at the
time of Jimmy Hoffa's disappearance were traced back to a leasing
operation owned by Boffa. The cars were used
as payoffs to favored union officials. Subsequent investigation
uncovered Boffa's empire of companies. Law enforcement authorities
used federal RICO forfeiture provision. to seize Boffa's companies,
including assets of $200,000 in cash and $150,000 in accounts
receivable. For his role in the labor leasing scheme, Boffa received
a 20-year prison sentence and was fined $47,000. IBT Local 326
president Sheeran was sentenced to 18 years in prison; his conviction
was overturned and a retrial resulted in a plea of guilty and
a three-year sentence.
Subsequent events indicate that the Boffa
organization and operation continues even today. When law enforcement
efforts prevented his companies from continuing to operate, Boffa
simply formed new corporations. He controlled these companies
from his prison cell, calling his employees several times each
day to give directions concerning their operation. In addition,
financial benefits continued to flow to the Boffas. Robert Boffa's
wife was paid $750.00 per week for leasing company clerical work.
Tens of thousands of dollars were paid to Eugene Boffa, Jr., an
attorney and brother of Robert Boffa, for legal services that
were either overpriced or undelivered. When subpoenaed to testify
concerning the operations of the labor leasing business, both
Robert and Eugene Boffa refused to answer questions and invoked
their Fifth Amendment privilege.
Many corporations--including such large,
prominent corporations as Inland Container: J. C. Penney; Spiegel:
GAF: Atlantic Cement, Iowa Beef; continental Can, Crown Cork &
Seal; Crown Zellerbach and various soda bottling companies --
did business with Eugene Boffa and his companies.48 Some corporations
did business with Boffa while he was under indictment and even
after his conviction. Philip Silver, the recently-named President
of Continental Can, admitted in retrospect that his company "should
have disengaged more promptly and completely following Mr. Boffa's
conviction."49 Continental Can has adopted a constructive
corporate policy designed to avoid such problems in its future
labor leasing operations. Other companies were less responsive.
Business arrangements with the Boffa family continued unabated
for Crown Cork and Seal as of June 1985. In fact, when Crown Cork
and Seal was formally notified of the Commission's interest in
labor-leasing companies and invited to send a spokesman to the
Commission's public hearing, the company's general counsel sought
to obtain an affidavit from an employee of the Boffa company,
which would exonerate Crown's corporate officers by stating that
Crown did not know with whom it was dealing. The proposed affiant,
Samuel Solomon, refused to sign such a statement because he was
certain Crown Cork personnel knew that Boffa continued to control
At both the international and local levels,
the IBT obviously continues to suffer from the relationship with
organized crime. Indeed, so pervasive has this relationship become
that no single remedy is likely to restore even a measure of true
union democracy and independent leadership to the IBT. Sustained
commitment of governmental resources to dislodge organized crime
from the IBT through a combination of criminal prosecutions, civil
action, and administrative proceedings is the only approach that
offers even a modest hope of success in the long run. If the Local
560 case is representative of the depths of the problem, systematic
use of trusteeships by the courts may be necessary to prevent
organized crime from continuing to do business as usual in the
1 Deposition of Roy L. Williams by the President's
Commission on Organized Crime, September 13, 1985 [hereinafter
cited as Williams Deposition].
2 See United States v. Williams, 565
F.Supp. 353 (M D. Ill.), cert. denied,__U.S.__ (1985).
3 D. Moldea, The Hoffa Wars 26 (1978).
4 Williams Deposition, supra note
6 FBI Report, March 30, 1979, known as the
Crown Center Overhear, for the particular hotel that served as
the site of the meeting of Civella, Dorfman, Lombardo, Tamburello
and others. [hereafter Crown Center overhear]
7 Debriefing of Roy L. Williams by Commission
staff [hereinafter cited as Williams debriefing].
9 Williams Deposition, supra note
10 In 1977, the assets of the Teamsters Central
States Pension Fund were $1.59 billion of which 60.6 percent was
in real estate; at that time $260.6 million of the real estate
portfolio was invested in Nevada, nearly all of that in gaming
assets. By 1985 the fund had grown to $$5.3 billion in assets,
but the mix was quite different. Real estate investments were
down to $336 million, or 6.3 percent: Nevada real estate had been
reduced to $34.7 million. The dramatic shift in the Fund's investment
direction came after years of protracted litigation with the U.S.
Department of Labor. This litigation culminated in the signing
of consent decrees in 1983, enforceable in U.S. District Courts,
for both the pension and health and welfare funds. The main provisions
of the decrees are that the funds will be managed by a named fiduciary
with complete responsibility and authority for the investments
of the funds, the funds will maintain a qualified internal audit
staff; an independent special counsel will monitor the funds'
compliance with the consent decrees; and any fiduciary or administrator
who has been convicted of certain crimes will be removed from
the funds' service upon conviction, rather than at the conclusion
of the appeals process.
Lastly, the funds took over, with Court approval
in 1983, the assets of the late Allen Dorfman's Amalgamated Insurance
Company, and began processing claims in-house. This step was not
just significant for the funds in terms of the benefit monies
saved which had been diverted to Dorfman and his cronies -- it
was highly symbolic and accelerated the process of the fund's
severing its ties with Dorfman's operation.
11 Crown Center overhear, supra note
12 United States v. Dorfman, 470 F.2d
246 (2d Cir. 1972), cert. denied, 93 S. Ct. 1561 (1973)
13 Williams Deposition, supra note
l4 Deposition of Thomas F. O'Malley by the
President's Commission on Organized Crime, April 5, 1985.
15 United States v. Shurr, (E.D. Pa.
16 Williams Deposition, supra note
19 Crown Center Overhear, supra note
20 S. Brill, The Teamsters, 352-400
21 United States v. Local 560, 581
F. Supp. 279, 293 (D.N.J. 1984).
22 Oversiqht of Teamsters Union, 1983:
Hearing Before the U.S. Senate Committee on Labor and Human Resources,
98th Cong. 1st Sess. 10 (1983).
23 This figure includes salaries, allowances
and expenses, but no multiple pensions to which Presser will be
entitled. Compiled from financial reports filed with the Department
of Labor for fiscal year 1984.
24 Presser sought to quash the Commission's
subpoena, in part, on the ground that the criminal investigation
into the Local 507 payroll-padding scheme was pending at the same
time. The U.S. District Court rejected this argument and ordered
Presser to appear at a deposition. At two depositions on March
26, 1985 and August 13, 1985, as well as at the Commission's public
hearing on April 29, 1985, Presser invoked his Fifth Amendment
privilege against self-incrimination in response to all questions,
including inquiries about the history of the IBT, the criminal
convictions of his predecessors, use of union-sanctioned violence
against dissident groups, and payment of bribes and kickbacks
to IBT officials. The Commission's active investigation of Presser
ended when the Commission's request for authority to compel Presser's
testimony was rejected by the Justice Department.
25 Interview of Thomas Lanci, April 1985.
26 Williams Deposition, supra note
27 Organized Crime and Labor-Management
Racketeering: Hearings before the President's Commission on Organized
Crime, April 1985, at 209 [hereinafter cited as Labor-Management
28 G.. Stricharchak, "The Teamsters
Jackie Presser," Cleveland Magazine, October 1980,
29 Transcript of the Commission's March 26,
1985 deposition of Jackie Presser, which states in pertinent part:
Q. You have spoken harshly about rank and
file men who oppose your administration. Do you support the use
of union sanctioned violence against such dissident rank and file
A. Upon the advice of counsel I wish to invoke
the Fifth Amendment right to not to testify.
Q. What explanation can you offer the Commission
for your extensive statements supporting such violence, made by
you on October 31, 1983, to Joint Council 41?
A.Upon the advise of counsel I wish to invoke
the Fifth Amendment right not to testify.
Because Presser asserted his Fifth Amendment
privilege in response to the Commission's questions about his
support of violence against dissidents, the Commission subpoenaed
William Evans, the Secretary/Treasurer of IBT Joint Council 41
and the individual whom Presser praised for his role in the raid.
Evans provided testimony to the Commission under a grant of immunity
in March 1985.
The depth of loyalty that Presser commands
was evident in Evans's deposition. In an effort to exonerate himself
and Jackie Presser, Evans dismissed Presser's remarks as exaggerated
and boastful. On other points, Evans's testimony and his views
of the facts differed significantly from other eyewitnesses' accounts
on record concerning the BLAST raid. For example, Evans claimed
he went to Romulus because he heard TDU had open meetings, and
he thought it would be an "educational experience" to
attend this convention. He claimed he did not know who organized
the trip, who arranged or paid for the buses, or which persons
led the group. He stated that he recognized only two other persons
who travelled from Ohio to Michigan for the event. Evans claimed
that he was simply trying to order breakfast when he came upon
the fracas at the hotel, and that he could not remember any violence
or threats of violence. He also maintained he does not know what
the BLAST acronym means. He stated he did not see BLAST signs
or hear conversations to indicate that activities at the Romulus
convention were in any way sponsored by BLAST .
The Commission also subpoenaed Wendell Quillen,
a trustee of Joint Council 41, and Secretary-Treasurer of Local
957, to provide testimony concerning the BLAST raid. Quillen refused
to answer questions on the basis of his Fifth Amendment privilege.
Subsequently, Quillen told Dayton Daily News reporters he went
to the T W meeting to "see what it was all about," and
said of his refusal to testify before the Commission, "Why
should I tell them anything...."
30 Hotel Employees and Restaurant Employees
International Union: Hearings Before the Permanent Subcommittee
on Investigations of the Senate Committee on Governmental Affairs
, 97th Cong., 2nd Sess. 69 (1982).
31 Court authorized electronic surveillance
of a conversation between Joseph Hauser and Carlo. Marcello at
the Maison Dupuy Hotel in New Orleans, Louisiana on April 2, 1979.
32 Williams Deposition supra note
35 Presser was asked by the Commission to
confirm or deny making this statement, as quoted in S. Brill,
The Teamsters, at 349. He refused to answer this question
at his deposition on March 26, 1985, on the grounds that the answer
might incriminate him.
36 Williams Deposition, supra note
37 United States v. Local 560, 581
F. Supp. 279 (D.N.J. 1984).
38 Id. at 282.
39 Id. at 312.
40 Id. at 293.
41 Williams Debriefing, supra note
42 In 1976, "rebels" Ray Aponte
and Reuben Gonzalez attempted to begin a rival carters union.
Shortly afterward, they were murdered and found in the trunk of
43 Labor-Manaqement Racketeering Hearings,
supra note 27, at 197.
44 Deposition of Robert Rispo, February 14,
1985 [hereinafter cited as Rispo Deposition].
46 Deposition of David Kelly, before the
President's Commission on Organized Crime.
47 Rispo Deposition, supra note 44.
49 Labor-Management Racketeering Hearings,
supra note 27, at 276.