Chicago Boss Sentenced for Bribery

U.S. Dist. Judge Charles Kocoras sentenced Walter Hoff, ex-president of Int’l Bhd. of Teamsters Local 786 in Chicago, Aug. 10 to five months in prison and five months of home confinement for accepting $16,000 in bribes. The jail term that was stayed because Hoff has terminal cancer. Hoff pled guilty in Dec. 1999 to two counts, mail fraud and tax evasion, of what was originally a nine-count federal indictment.

Hoff pled guilty to accepting bribes of $8,000 in Sept. 1993 and May 1994 from John Christopher, a contractor and ex-con who was working undercover for federal investigators in “Operation Silver Shovel.” In exchange for the money, prosecutors alleged that Hoff altered paperwork so that thousands of dollars in members’ union dues that Christopher was supposed to pass on to IBT were wiped off of union books.

Kocoras also ordered Hoff to pay $16,000 in restitution. Asst. U.S. Atty. Dean Polales said in court that the bribes equaled one-third, or $48,000, of the amount Christopher owed the union. Hoff’s attorney, Thomas Breen, disputed the prosecutor’s estimate, saying the union had no evidence that it was short of dues payments. Breen called the estimate “fictitious, non-existent numbers.” [Chi. Trib. 8/11/00]

Film Industry has Massachusetts Local Probed
A federal grand jury in Boston is reportedly investigating allegations that bosses of Int’l Bhd. of Teamsters Local 25 extorted Hollywood producers who filmed a series of box-office hits throughout New England.

The FBI’s investigation is focusing on allegations that local bosses forced producers filming around New England to hire the Location Connection, a Boston company that provides wardrobe trailers and other vehicles and is allegedly controlled by  James P. Flynn, the local’s transportation coordinator. Investigators are also looking into whether bosses extorted favors from movie producers and forced them to hire a small group of hand-selected drivers many of whom are criminals and/or have alleged connections to the Patriarca organized crime family in Rhode Island.

In June, the grand jury subpoenaed records from Local 25, detailing the local’s contracts with filmmakers of such movies as “The Perfect Storm,” “The Cider House Rules,” “Message in a Bottle” and “Good Will Hunting.” Additionally, U.S. Dep’t of Labor agents raided Flynn’s home and seized records relating to the movie industry.  In 1986, Flynn was acquitted of the 1982 killing of Brian Halloran, an alleged mobster who was gunned down after cooperating with the FBI against gangster James “Whitey” Bulger. Flynn is now also an “actor” making cameo appearances in “Cider House Rules” and “Good Will Hunting.”

Local 25 president George Cashman is also a reported target of the probe. Cashman is a longtime fundraiser for Mass. Gov. Paul Cellucci (R), who was recently reappointed Cashman to the Mass. Port Authority board of directors for another seven years. Local 25 organizer Louis DiGiampaolo, who accompanied Cellucci on recent “trade missions” to Hollywood to try to persuade movie studio heads to film in Mass., is also a reported target. Allegedly, the probe is looking into whether DiGiampaolo threatened to shut down film and TV commercial productions unless they did business with Local 25.

Further, IBT in Washington may begin its own probe of Local 25, but it has given contradictory accounts of the plans for and timing of any such probe. [Bos. Globe 7/25, 7/28, 8/6, 8/9/00; Bos. Herald 7/27, 8/8/00]