George Lardner Jr.
June 5, 1981
The president of the 627,000-member Laborers
International Union has been indicted on racketeering charges
also with two reputed organized crime figures for a scheme involving
$2 million in alleged kickbacks from union funds.
The Justice Department said the charges were
lodged by a federal grand jury in Miami against 16 defendants
including union President Angelo Fosco, 60, of Chicago; reputed
Mafia chieftain Santos Trafficante, 67, of Tampa, and Anthony
Accardo, 75, for many years the reputed chief of the Chicago crime
It was the second indictment of the head
of a major union in recent weeks. The newly elected president
of the International Brotherhood of Teamsters, Roy Lee Williams,
was charged in Chicago last month with conspiring to bribe Sen.
Howard W. Cannon (D-Nev.).
The Miami indictment, unsealed yesterday
after a round of arrests Wednesday night, appeared to be based,
at least in part, on information furnished by the ubiquitous Joseph
Hauser, a convicted insurance swindler who was also instrumental
in last year's indictment of reputed New Orleans underworld boss
The charges involving the Laborers Union
hinged on an alleged conspiracy to operate a kickback scheme with
union funds, first in Chicago and Florida, and then nationally,
with Accardo's and Trafficante's blessings.
The grand jury said the defendants gave and
received the kickbacks for steering union pension fund and insurance
business to certain firms.
According to the indictment, one of the primary
aims of the scheme, which allegedly lasted from 1970 to 1977,
was to funnel all Laborers Union insurance business into a nationwide
insurance company that Hauser was to obtain.
At one 1974 meeting in Florida, the grand
jury charged, Trafficante told Hauser and two other men that when
Hauser got his company, "then 'the family' and the Laborers
Union hierarchy were going to be a part" of it.
At still another meeting in Chicago, in December
of 1974, the indictment continued, Accardo told Hauser they were
going to make his company the biggest insurance company in the
Accardo, the indictment added, "also
advised Joseph Hauser at that meeting that he was 'family' because
of Angelo Fosco's recommendation."
Hauser was mentioned, but not charged, in
the 19-page indictment. A Justice Department spokesman declined
to comment when asked if Hauser had been rigged to record the
A broadcast this spring on "NBC Nightly
News" quoted a confidential Justice Department study as saying
that the Laborers and the Teamsters, along with at least two other
national unions, were dominated by organized crime.
Fosco denounced the report, and said he "categorically
and completely" denied that decisions about union business
were made by the mob or the crime syndicate.
Justice Department spokesman John Russell
said he believed that this was the first time Trafficante had
ever been indicted for a major crime.
Once a bodyguard to Al Capone, Accardo, who
is also known as "Joe Batters," had been convicted on
federal tax evasion charges in the 1960s, but he won a new trial
on appeal and was acquitted in 1962. At one point during his difficulties
with the government over the tax charges, the Teamsters put together
$330,000 to buy Accardo's summer home on Lake Michigan, ostensibly
to set up a "school" for union business agents.