U.S. Rep. Corrine Brown (D-FL) and state Sen. Tony Hill (D) asked a judge on Dec. 19 to be merciful to George Spencer, president of Local 1408 of the Intl. Longshoremen’s Assn. Spencer pled no contest in Oct. to witness-tampering to protect a local member later convicted of rape. Elected president of the Local last Dec. with the witness-tampering charge pending, Spencer agreed to resign his position effective Jan. 31.
Both Brown and Hill are Jacksonville Democrats who have benefited from union backing. “George is a religious man who works hard to help others,” Brown wrote in a letter to circuit judge Michael Weatherby. “I am confident that Mr. Spencer can continue to be an asset to this community.” Speaking in court at Spencer’s sentencing hearing, Hill said he has known Spencer more than 25 years and said “he has always been a person that cared about working people, working families.”
Spencer claimed to have believed Jerome Williams when he said that the rape charge was fabricated by a prostitute to whom he owed money. But despite claiming to have been Williams’ friend for over 20 yrs., Spencer also claimed to be unaware of Williams’ previous convictions for rape when he agreed to offer money to the boyfriend of the woman whom Williams raped in [YEAR] exchange for his pressuring the woman not to testify. But the person to whom Spencer agreed to offer the bribe was an FBI informant.
Asst. statewide prosecutor Shannon MacGillis read transcripts of FBI tapes on which Spencer told the FBI informant, “I’ve got to get something’ and ‘You got a little money you can get out of anything but debt.” MacGillis also told Judge Weatherby she was prepared to introduce evidence from a civil lawsuit against the union by women who say Spencer and his brother, Charles, the former local president, made sexual advances and demanded favors for work. But Weatherby said he was aware of the pending lawsuit and didn’t need to hear evidence from it.
Judge Weatherby will sentence Spencer on Jan. 24. MacGillis asked Weatherby to sentence
Spencer, 59, to a year in jail. He faces up to five years in prison. [Florida Times-Union, 12/20/03]