$100,000 Restitution for Hamilton, DOJ Admits Error

U.S. Dist. Judge Thomas P. Griesa ordered Apr. 7 ex-Teamsters political director William W. Hamilton, Jr., to pay $100,000 in restitution for his role in a scheme to swap IBT political contributions for donations to Ron Carey’s 1996 reelection campaign. Griesa already sentenced Hamilton to three years in prison. Hamilton is free on bail pending the appeal of his six-count conviction on conspiracy, embezzlement, fraud and perjury charges. In addition to prison, Hamilton must serve two years of supervised release. The Manhattan judge gave Hamilton until the end of his supervised release to pay the restitution.

IBT is still trying to collect some $3 million in restitution from Hamilton or from him and two co-conspirators, Martin Davis and Michael Ansara. Davis and Ansara, with Carey campaign manager Jere Nash, pled guilty in 1997 to participating in the scheme and agreed to cooperate with the Dep’t of Justice. But, the Clinton-Reno DOJ admitted they erred by failing to apply Mandatory Victims Restitution Act standards in collecting restitution from Davis and Ansara. As part of their pleas, Davis paid $500,000 and Ansara $395,000 into escrow. The $3 million figure represents $885,000 in contributions plus $2.2 million IBT paid to help fund the resulting rerun election (no mention of the millions U.S. taxpayers paid for the two elections).

Under the MVRA, restitution of the full amount of a victim’s loss is mandatory, based on the findings of a presentencing report prepared by a federal probation officer and required notice to identified victims, IBT argued in asking Griesa to modify the orders by other district judges that set the amounts paid by Davis and Ansara.  DOJ erred in treating the amounts as discretionary. IBT argues that, although the Davis and Ansara escrow funds went toward the rerun election, none of it went to the IBT. DOJ admitted its error at the hearing before Griesa, but the judge said that under case law in the Second Circuit they remain “strictly bound” by the terms of the cooperation agreements. It smells like an appeal in there somewhere.

Despite making the costly error, DOJ urged Griesa not to convene a further hearing on IBT’s claim for more restitution. Asst. U.S. Atty. Martine Beamon said such litigation “would handicap the government significantly” in its continuing investigation of the matter. She said DOJ had taken a “conservative approach” in light of the case’s “complicating factors.” In ordering the $100,000 restitution, Griesa called Hamilton “a man of quite modest means” who could face limited earning  opportunities after  prison. He called the DOJ’s recommendation of $885,000 “totally unrealistic.” He also scolded DOJ for failing to submit papers that could help guide him through the legal problems raised by the restitution issue.

“The restitution order should have gone further,” IBT Gen. Counsel Patrick J. Szymanski said. “We certainly hope there is an ongoing investigation that goes beyond the individuals who have pled guilty so far. We wonder at this point why former President Carey hasn’t been charged.” [BNA 4/10/00]