Federal Labor Law Probe Expands to Chicago City Hall

The federal labor law probe of the Chicago-based Liquor & Wine Sales Representatives, Tire, Plastic, and Allied Workers Union has reportedly expanded into a public corruption investigation. A federal grand jury has subpoenaed records from Chicago’s City Hall related to a mob-connected family whose janitorial company has won tens of millions of dollars in city-related contracts since Mayor Richard Daley (D) took office.

In a subpoena dated Feb. 11, federal prosecutors asked the city’s deputy budget director, Bill Cerney, to deliver “all employee expense tax records” filed by four companies, at least three of which are directly related to the Duff family, whose ties to organized crimes reportedly date back four decades and who has held fundraisers for the mayor and provided campaign workers for Daley-backed candidates. The request seeks records from the companies dating to Jan. 1, 1998. The companies are Windy City Maintenance, Windy City Labor Service, Remedial Environmental Manpower, and Remedial Daily Labor. The subpoena was obtained by the Tribune under the Ill. Freedom of Information Act. A federal grand jury also sought records on at least one Duff company, Windy City Maintenance, from the Metropolitan Pier & Exposition Auth., which oversees McCormick Place and Navy Pier, sources said. Windy City Maintenance, a janitorial firm, has held a cleaning contract with the MPEA since 1996, and the MPEA board is expected to decide whether to renew its contract in the coming weeks.

Federal prosecutors have been investigating the Duffs for more than two years, a probe prompted by a July 1999 Tribune investigation that found Windy City Maintenance, which had won tens of millions of dollars in government contract set-asides for woman-owned firms, was actually run by men within the Duff family. The Tribune also reported that a day labor company controlled by the Duffs, Windy City Labor, was supplying non-union labor to liquor distributors whose employees were represented by a union run by the Duff family, a possible labor violation. To date, the federal probe has focused on those labor violations by the Duffs’ union, the Liquor & Wine Sales Representatives, Tire, Plastic, and Allied Workers Union. The latest subpoena suggests the investigation has now expanded.

After the Tribune investigation, Daley vowed his own investigation of the Duffs’ companies. The results of the city probe concluded Windy City Maintenance was controlled by a woman, Patricia Green (Duff) when it first got city business but eventually was taken over by the Duff men. There was no evidence of willful wrongdoing, according to administration officials.

Patricia Green’s husband, John Duff, Jr., testified in 1960 on behalf of reputed mob boss Anthony “Big Tuna” Accardo, who faced income-tax fraud charges. Duff’s testimony helped the Accardo’s defense but ultimately cost Duff his job as a city investigator. Duff later pled guilty in 1982 to embezzling union funds in Chicago and Detroit and spent 17 months in prison. One of his three sons, John Duff III, has also been allegedly associated with organized crime. [Ch. Trib. 3/19/02]