Daniel C. Ligurotis, Sr., the Teamsters boss who was acquitted of murder in the 1991 shooting death of his son and was later ousted for allegedly embezzling from the union, died Dec. 9 of complications with cancer.
Ligurotis was ousted in 1993 as secretary-treasurer of Local 705, the second largest Teamsters unit in Chicago and one of the largest in the country, over allegations of corruption. A federal judge ruled that Ligurotis gave himself unauthorized pay increases that amounted to embezzlement, hired convicted felons as union employees and violated rules against having loaded firearms on Teamsters property. In a civil suit filed in 1995 against Ligurotis and others, the Teamsters accused Ligurotis and other top bosses of embezzling at least $4 million from pension and health funds. Half the money was allegedly used to build a fancy restaurant at union headquarters. He also had a pair of bronze busts made in his likeness, which together cost $14,000.
But the most sensational headlines about Mr. Ligurotis had nothing to do with corruption. In 1992, he was acquitted of second-degree murder in the shooting death of his son, 36-year-old Daniel Ligurotis Jr., a Local 705 trustee. The younger Ligurotis was shot in the back of the head the evening of Aug.21, 1991, in the basement of Teamsters headquarters. Ligurotis said he was forced to shoot his son in self-defense after his son threatened to shoot him during an argument over the younger Ligurotis’ drug use. A Criminal Court judge said prosecutors failed to prove the charges and acquitted Ligurotis before defense attorneys even began presenting their case. Traces of alcohol, cocaine, Valium and marijuana were found in the younger Ligurotis’ blood.
A high school dropout who grew up in Cicero, Ligurotis became a union business representative in 1966, joined the executive board in 1976, became recording secretary in 1981 and became secretary-treasurer in 1986. [Chi. Sun-Times & Chi. Trib. 12/10/99]