Getting Off Light: Hamilton Sentenced to Only 3 Years

U.S. Dist. Judge Thomas P. Griesa in Manhattan sentenced ex-Int’l Bhd. of Teamsters political director William W. Hamilton to 36 months in prison Mar. 14 after he was convicted of helping steer $885,000 in IBT funds to liberal groups as part of a scheme in which donors later contributed to ex-IBT boss Ron Carey’s campaign. Federal sentencing guidelines recommend 46 to 57 months in prison. The maximum is 360 months; Hamilton’s six convictions were punishable by up to five years each.

Hamilton’s lawyer, G. Robert Gage, Jr., pled with Griesa to depart from the guidelines. He emphasized that Hamilton hadn’t benefited financially from the embezzlement, had ill and elderly parents and had spent decades working in “public service.” Hamilton led civil rights demonstrations as a student, headed Planned Parenthood’s D.C. office and was AFSCME’s chief of staff. Asides: While at Planned Parenthood, Hamilton attacked the late Mother Teresa in a June 29, 1985 letter in the Wash. Post. And, how does being an AFSCME boss qualify as “public service”?

“This for me has been degrading and humiliating,” Hamilton told the court. “I am deeply ashamed.” Rationalizing, he said, “We didn’t want to see the union go back to the days of corruption. Sometimes you want to do something so deeply, you do something dumb.”

Emphasizing the seriousness of the crime, Griesa said: “It was a large embezzlement. It was not merely the loss of $885,000…, it was conduct which had a very damaging effect on the union.” But he said he was lightening the sentence for one reason: Hamilton’s “public service.” Griesa actually said, Hamilton “led an exemplary life.” Detroit News columnist Jon Pepper wrote: “It’s lucky for [Hamilton] that he led a life of liberal activism. If [he] hadn’t…he might have to spend an extra 1 1/2 years in jail.”

Six Carey cronies have been convicted. Hamilton was the first to receive a prison term. One got probation, while others await sentencing. The U.S. Atty.’s Office in Manhattan said their probe continues. Hamilton declined to cooperate with investigations of others, including Carey and AFL-CIO secretary-treasurer Richard L. Trumka. Trumka has invoked the Fifth Amendment. Since no charges have been filed, Trumka is free to travel the country urging support for Al Gore. [N.Y. Times 3/15/00, Det. News 3/17/00]

Carey Scandal Figure’s Firm in Trouble with NLRB
The Nat’l Labor Relations Bd. is investigating allegations of unfair labor practices by the Share Group, of Somerville, Mass. (a telemarketing firm known for its progressive practices) and its union.  Share is headed by Michael Ansara who pled guilty in 1997 to a federal conspiracy charge in the IBT money-laundering scheme. Ansara participated in two schemes that wrongfully routed $341,000 to ex-IBT boss Ron Carey’s 1996 campaign.

One ULP charge against Share alleges it hired an investigator to intimidate a group of dissident employees who had questioned company practices. A second alleges that Communications Workers of Am. Local 1400’s offical indicated that workers who didn’t back a proposed 1999 contract would be targeted for layoffs. [Boston Globe 3/14/00]