Edelstein Denies New Jersey Boss’ “Frivolous” Appeal

U.S. Dist. Judge David N. Edelstein, who oversees the Int’l Bhd. of Teamsters’ 1989 consent decree, Aug. 2 denied a request from a top boss, Gene Giacumbo, to reconsider his earlier decision that a member of the Independent Review Board need not recuse himself from a disciplinary case against the officer. Edelstein called the reconsideration request a “waste of judicial resources” and “without any justifiable support,” his one-paragraph submission was “ostensibly frivolous.” Giacumbo is an ex-president of a IBT Local 843 in N.J. and international IBT vice president.

In denying reconsideration, Edelstein said, “This court is vexed that Giacumbo requests a reconsideration of issues already examined simply because he is dissatisfied with the way his case has been resolved.” In October 1995, the IRB found that Giacumbo had embezzled local union funds, breached his fiduciary duties, and brought reproach upon the union. The IRB suspended Giacumbo from office for only six months and ordered him to pay a minuscule $1,600 fine. When IRB asked Edelstein to affirm its order as required by the consent decree, he sent the case back to IRB holding that the sanctions were not commensurate with the severity of the charges. IRB then imposed a three-year suspension, but again Edelstein found the penalty too lenient. In 1997, the IRB finally barred Giacumbo from office for life.

Giacumbo appealed the discipline to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit, which found that Edelstein erred in substituting his judgment for that of IRB and for suggesting that Giacumbo be banned from the union for life. Following the Second Circuit decision, Edelstein directed IRB to consider whether the sanctions it had imposed on Giacumbo should be modified because of any further misconduct. Edelstein also found that IRB member Frederick B. Lacey need not recuse himself from Giacumbo’s disciplinary case because there was no evidence that Lacey was biased against Giacumbo.

IRB found in a Jul. 19, 1999, decision that the suspension from office and membership already served by Giacumbo was sufficient and that he is eligible for reinstatement to membership once he pays the $1,600 fine plus interest to IBT. IRB asked Edelstein to affirm its decision, while Giacumbo filed a motion opposing the IRB decision and renewing his argument that the court erred when it did not require Lacey’s recusal. In rejecting Giacumbo’s appeal for reconsideration, Edelstein held said that the IBT officer was asking the court to consider arguments that have already been fully adjudicated. [BNA 8/9/99]