Chicago Pension Funds’ Scandal Uncovered

U.S. Atty. Donald K. Stern in Boston announced Apr. 17 the indictment by a federal grand jury in Chicago charging Christopher P. Roach of Detroit and Richard S. Tringale of Sarasota, Fla., with conspiracy to violate the Racketeer Influenced & Corrupt Orgs. Act, and with paying kickbacks to union trustees. It charges William V. Close of Chicago, ex-trustee of IBT Local  710 and Auto. Mechanics Union Local 701 pension funds, with receiving kickbacks and with money laundering.

Allegedly, Roach and Tringale controlled a Detroit-based brokerage firm known as East/West Inst. Servs. through which they contracted with clearing brokers to pay East/West commissions generated by trades of union pension assets. From 1994 to 1997, Roach and Tringale made promises and threats to investment advisors that Local 710 and 701 pension fund business would be won or lost depending on whether the investment advisors agreed to funnel commissions through the clearing brokers to East/West.

Roach and Tringale also allegedly paid almost a million dollars in kickbacks to two union pension fund trustees, Close and Robert J. Baker.  Baker died in 1997.  Allegedly, both trustees influenced and voted on the selection of advisors to the Local 710 and 701 funds resulting in over $3 million in commissions being transferred to Cayman Islands accounts and then distributed to accounts in various names for the benefit of Baker, Close, Roach and Tringale. Close then transferred the funds to accounts in England and the Isle of Man.

The charges against Roach and Tringale also include allegations of money laundering, witness tampering, interstate and foreign travel in aid of racketeering, and extortion. The two allegedly threatened physical violence and assault with a firearm to investment manager Clarke Blizzard of Boston-based Shawmut Inv. Advisors, Inc., an advisor to the Chicago-based pension funds. Allegedly, Roach and Tringale claimed they had paid $25,000 to an unnamed union official in Providence, R.I., to get him to agree to funnel commissions to East/West, and when the union official failed to deliver, they demanded, at gunpoint, that Blizzard pay them back. They threatened to have Blizzard’s legs and knees broken and to send someone to attack him with a baseball bat. Roach and Tringale are also charged with witness tampering, by threatening Blizzard if he co-operated in this investigation.

The indictment seeks $7 million from Roach and Tringale and $443,000 from Close.  Roach and Tringale face a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison on the racketeering conspiracy charge, and three years imprisonment on each of the 26 kickback counts alleged against them.  The maximum sentence on the seven money laundering charges Close faces is ten years on each count; he also faces a three-year prison term on each of 13 kickback counts.  Each count in the indictment carries a maximum fine of $250,000.[USAO D. Mass., Media Release 4/17/00; Bos. Globe 4/18/00]