Boston Boss Faces Embezzlement and Bribery Charges

George W. Cashman, president of Int’l Bhd. of Teamsters Local 25 in Charlestown, Mass.,  along with four other individuals and three firms were indicted Jan. 16 on 179 counts of embezzlement and bribery. Allegedly, 19 non-employees were ordered or placed on the firms’ payrolls in order to allow the non-employees to receive health benefits from Local 25’s Health Services & Insurance Plan to which they were not entitled. Asst. U.S. Atty. Fred Wyshak said the defendants robbed the fund of benefits belonging to qualified members: “The loss is to the fund that has to pay benefits it normally would not have to pay.”

Disilva Transp., Inc., Hutchinson Indus., Inc., and Manfi Leasing Corp., run by brothers Thomas A. and James P. Disilva and their brother-in-law William P. Belanger, filed false documents for the bogus employees from 1992-2001 thereby costing Local 25’s HSIP $72,000 in wrongful health benefits.  Also, two non-employees were allegedly placed on the firms’ payrolls in order to be eligible for pension benefits from the New England Teamsters & Trucking Indus. Pension Fund, which covers several IBT locals.

Cashman and Local 25 vice-president William Carnes allegedly participated in the scheme and directed benefits from the firms to the bogus employees in violation of the Taft-Hartley Act.  Cashman and Carnes have run Local 26 since 1992. Additionally, both are trustees of Local 25’s HSIP, and Cashman is a trustee of NETTIPF as well as the head of IBT Joint Council 10. All five pled not guilty and were released on $25,000 bond. U.S. Magistrate Judge Joyce L. Alexander rejected arguments that the case against Cashman and Carnes was not serious enough to warrant bail but reduced the prosecutors’ demand for $50,000 bail.

Cashman has been the target of a federal probe for several years. Last year, a state report concluded that Local 25’s heavy-handed control of labor terms for work on film production in Mass. had driven most major studios away from the state. Mass. acting Gov. Jane Swift (R) said she would ask Cashman to resign immediately from his membership on the Mass. Port Auth. Bd., the agency that operates Logan Int’l Airport where two planes that terrorists used to destroy the World Trade Ctr. originated. Swift added that she would suspend him if he refused. Cashman was appointed by ex-Gov. William F. Weld (R) in June 1993 and was reappointed by ex-Gov. Paul Cellucci (R) in 1998. His current term expires in 2005.

“This case addresses significant allegations of labor racketeering’s impact on hard-working Americans and on the corruption of labor-management relations. We intend to vigorously pursue such allegations of corruption throughout the country,” said Dep’t of Labor Inspector General Gordon S. Heddell. U.S. Atty. Michael J. Sullivan added, “The alleged fabrication of work hours for non-employees to become eligible for health care benefits is an affront to all legitimate and hard-working union members.”

Three others linked to Local 25 were charged in three related indictments alleging a broader enterprise entailing Teamsters conspiring to steal truckloads of computer parts and other goods by recruiting or threatening drivers.

John J. “Mick” Murray, a convicted bank burglar and alleged associate of fugitive S. Boston gang member James “Whitey” Bulger, was charged with 12 counts of racketeering, extortion, embezzlement, and interstate transportation of stolen property. Murray allegedly received $35,000 in unauthorized health care benefits via Cashman.  Murray also allegedly used his Local 25 affiliation to orchestrate a computer theft ring that operated out of a Chelmford, Mass., UPS facility. He is also charged with in extorting, with convicted S. Boston gang member Kevin Weeks, from bookmaker Kevins Haynes and from Airborne Express truck driver Paul Kupchaunis.

Also indicted was Bruce S. Ziskind on three counts of conspiracy and interstate transportation of stolen goods. Ziskind  owned Tufts Electronics, and allegedly plotted with UPS driver, Daniel Gilday (nephew of infamous cop-killer William “Lefty” Gilday, who is serving a life sentence for the 1970 killing of Walter Schroeder), to steal computer shipments.

Finally, Thomas C. Brennan, a convicted drug dealer and bookmaker, was indicted on 70 counts of conspiracy to steal goods in interstate commerce, theft of interstate shipments, and conspiracy to distribute cocaine. Allegedly, UPS driver, John Loughlin, accrued gambling and drug debt to Brennan, and to pay the debt, Brennan received stolen packages of computer products, including a $50,000 computer shipment belonging to the Navy, and other items, including 11 hand guns and two shotguns.

Murray and Brennan were both held without bail. Detention hearings for the two men are scheduled for the week of Jan. 21. Ziskind, who reportedly has a lengthy criminal record, was released on $250,000 bond. Prosecutors said the probe was continuing. [USAO D. Mass., AP, Reuters 1/17/02; BNA, Boston Globe, Boston Herald 1/18/02]