Death Threats Alleged in Connection to Racketeering Probe of Boston Local

The head of the Commonwealth of Mass.’s Film Office has allegedly received death threats stemming from her helping federal prosecutors probing alleged racketeering within Int’l Bhd. of Teamsters Local 25 in New England. Robin Dawson, who has testified before the federal grand jury investigating allegations of union shakedowns and strong-arming of movie makers filming in Mass., received the threats Mar. 22, sources told the Boston Herald.

Allegedly, the threats centered around Dawson’s appearance at an Oscar party Sunday night to benefit Massachusetts 9-11 Fund for families of victims of the terrorist attacks last fall. Reportedly, officials at the Four Seasons hotel, where the gala was held, beefed up security because of the threat.

Earlier in Mar., Stephen Crosby, Mass. Gov. Jane Swift’s (R) chief secretary, tried to fire Dawson, charging she did not fully disclose who she dined with at state expense. But Dawson, backed up by the U.S. Atty.’s Office in Boston, said she was asked by prosecutors not to name the people she took to dinner because they were witnesses before the racketeering grand jury seated in Worcester. Prosecutors blocked Swift from canning Dawson, but in leaking the story, the administration made it publicly clear to the probe’s targets that Dawson was a key witness, according to sources familiar with the investigation.

Agents from the the Dep’t of Labor’s Office of Labor Racketeering have been investigating the allegations against Local 25 officials including president George W. Cashman, a former Mass. Port Auth. Bd. board member who resigned after being indicted Jan. 16 on 175 counts of bribery and fraud. The allegations include shaking down movie and television producers in exchange for labor peace. Members of Local 25’s movie crew allegedly padded overtime expenses, forced producers to lease member-owned equipment at inflated rates and threatened and intimidated other rival union members and crew. In one instance, Cashman allegedly approved the beating of a female snack truck driver who refused to turn her concession contract over to a Local 25 member on the set of the movie “What’s the Worst That Could Happen?”

Records obtained under a Freedom of Information Act request by the Boston Herald showed that Dawson tried numerous times to warn ex- Mass. Govs. William Weld (R) and Paul Cellucci (R) that Local 25 strong-arm tactics were hindering filmmaking in Mass. [Boston Herald 3/28/02]