Judge Upholds Ban of Hoffa Ally

On Apr. 18, U.S. Dist. Judge Loretta A. Preska (S.D.N.Y., G.H.W. Bush) upheld the lifetime union membership ban imposed on Michael C. Bane, ex-president of Int’l Bhd. of Teamsters Local 614 in Pontiac, Mich. Preska, who oversees a 1989 consent decree which governs IBT, denied Bane’s appeal of the decision of IBT’s court-supervised Indep. Rev. Bd., which is charged with rooting out corruption and organized crime influence within IBT. In July 2001, IRB found that Bane had intentionally misled an IRB investigation of Bane’s association with organized crime figures. As result, IRB found Bane should be permanently barred from membership in any position in the IBT or any IBT-affiliated entity

Bane appealed  IRB’s decision to Preska, arguing the penalty was “vastly disproportionate” to his conduct and in comparison to sanctions imposed in other similar cases related to enforcement of the consent decree.  Rejecting Bane’s assertions, Preska said the court would not overturn the IRB’s choice of a penalty unless it found the remedy “unwarranted in law or without justification.” In this case, the judge said, a lifetime ban on membership and employment with the union is “a permissible sanction because it is authorized by the IBT Constitution and the [consent decree] rules.”  She added, “There is no dispute that the IBT constitution provides that a member may be stripped of membership rights if found guilty of misconduct.”

In imposing the sanction, IRB reportedly took into account Bane’s relatively high-level position in the union as the head of a large IBT local. IRB cited the sanction it had imposed on disgraced and expelled ex-IBT president Ron Carey who similarly was stripped of his union membership in 1998 for his part in the money-laundering scandal which brought down him and his administration in 1997. The judge there upheld the life ban because of “Carey’s position as the highest union official–his misconduct was more serious.”  Preska also likened Bane to the Carey ban and “such an abuse of trust by a powerful administrative official undermines the faith of the public and the IRB members in the ability of the union to conduct its day-to-day affairs in a trustworthy and honest way.”

Further, Preska said that Bane’s “failure to cooperate and to provide truthful testimony concerning his ties to [organized crime figures] strikes at the very heart of the consent decree’s goal of freeing the union from ‘the hideous influence of organized crime.'” She added, “Indeed, by intentionally giving misleading testimony, Bane intended to prevent the IRB from discovering the full scope of his association with organized crime members. Bane’s misconduct was thus extremely serious and warranted the most severe sanction.”

Bane, who was convicted of embezzlement in the 1970s, has been affiliated with Local 614 for over 30 years and became its president in 1990. Current IBT president James P. Hoffa is a Local 614 member and served as the local’s attorney before taking over the IBT; he is also reportedly an associate of Bane. [BNA 4/22/01]