New Jersey Boss Ousted, $642,000 Allegedly Diverted from Local

The Hotel Employees & Restaurant Employees Int’l Union ousted the president of its North Jersey local Mar. 13 after finding that he had made large, unjustified payments to his predecessor, who had been kicked out for associating with mobsters. HERE said Local 69 president David Feeback had misappropriated union money by paying $542,000 in severance benefits to John N. Agathos, who was expelled from the local’s presidency in 1996, and to his son, John R. Agathos, who was also ousted that year.

HERE president John W. Wilhelm also placed the Secaucus, N.J., based local into trusteeship after uncovering extensive financial irregularities. HERE accused Feeback of diverting more than $100,000 for his personal benefit, including money for dinners and bar tabs. HERE also asserted that Local 69 bosses had received an illegal $5,282 loan from an employer to buy 76 tickets to a Bruce Springsteen concert.

HERE has long been considered one of the most corrupt unions in America and only recently emerged from federal oversight. HERE reportedly put Local 69 into trusteeship after consulting with the Dep’t of Justice and HERE’s “ethics review board.” Wilhelm named John A. Boardman, president of its local in Washington, to serve as the Local 69 trustee, while DOJ has named former federal overseer Kurt Muellenberg to serve as monitor of the local.

Feeback was ousted, in part, because a federal court had barred Local 69 officials from having any dealings with Agathos, the ex-president, who allegedly associated with the Genovese crime family. HERE moved against Feeback after auditors discovered a withdrawal of more than $500,000 from Local 69’s treasury.  Robert J. Rotatori, HERE’s general counsel and close confidant of the corrupt ex-HERE president, Edward Hanley, who died in 2000, said Agathos and his son agreed to repay the $542,000. Wilhelm argued that HERE’s action showed that it is cleaning its own house. However, there was no report that the alleged financial irregularities were referred to federal prosecutors. Thus, the Nat’l Legal & Pol’y Ctr. has notified the proper federal law enforcement officials of the apparent union embezzlement and union-related crimes within Local 69 and requested that Feeback and any others involved be prosecuted. [N.Y. Times 3/14/02]