Independent Rev. Bd. Hears Charges against Houston Bosses

The Independent Rev. Bd. (IRB) of the Intl. Bhd. of Teamsters heard charges of kickbacks and theft against 2 frmr. local officials in Houston on March 30-31.  In the 2-day hearing, the IRB heard testimony from frmr. employees of Local 998 against ex-president Chuck Crawley and ex-secy.-treasurer Dennis Bankhead.  The IRB was created in 1989 to settle a nationwide racketeering suit against the IBT, and has independent authority root corrupt officials out of the union.  The current IRB members are frmr. FBI and CIA director William Webster; Benjamin Civiletti, the attny. general under President Carter; and Joseph diGenova, the frmr. U.S. Attny. of the Dist. of Columbia.


IBT president James Hoffa suspended Crawley and Bankhead last year after IRB investigators reported the allegations of wrongdoing against the two.  Among the allegations heard by the IRB at the end of March:


Shannon Fagan testified that Crawley raised her monthly salary by $830, but then told her to give him back $400.  According to Fagan, Crawley was trying to raise $75,000 for Hoffa, and hoped the contributions would influence him to support Crawley for the presidency when it was available.  Fagan said that 5 other employees of Local 998 were involved in the salary kickback scheme.  Fagan testified she had no choice but to give Crawley the cash.  “He put it to me in a way that I would be replaced if I didn’t do it,” said Fagan, who figured she ended up with an extra $150 each month after paying the taxes.


Fagan’s husband, David, also testified that when he submitted his $32,000 bid to install a new telephone system for Local 988’s new union hall, Crawley asked him privately: “Is there any way you can put 20 grand in for me?”  Fagan said he told Crawley that if he inflated the bid that much it wouldn’t be competitive.  Crawley told him that it was “OK to put stuff in there you aren’t installing — just get it up,” David Fagan told the panel. So, he said, he resubmitted his previous bid with an added $20,000 on top.  Fagan said he gave Crawley $10,000 in cash after cashing the first installation check, and then he and his wife delivered the remaining $10,000 in cash to Crawley from a subsequent check.


Shannon Fagan also testified that Bankhead told her he and Crawley planned to each pocket $5,000 on the union hall’s grand opening by inflating receipts.  Former Local 988 employee David McCormick also testified that he participated in a scheme of Crawley‘s to inflate the cost of union T-shirts by about $2,000.  The membership was told the shirts cost about $6,000 when they actually cost only $4,000.  McCormick said that when investigators for the Independent Review Board began asking about the invoice, Crawley told him to deny the padding or everyone could go to jail.  McCormick said he lied as he was told to in 2000 but recanted to IRB investigators 2 yrs. later.


Crawley denied all charges the next day.  In response to David Fagan’s testimony, Crawley claimed that on one day he allegedly received a payment from Fagan, he was busy signing up UPS employees for the union’s political action cmte., and presented photographs purporting to back up his alibi.  Crawley‘s lawyer, frmr. IBT gen. counsel Robert Baptiste presented Kevin Barnes, the frmr. natl. sales mgr. of NACR, a telephone installation company.  Barnes claimed NACR could never have performed the contract for the $32,000 that Fagan said he first proposed.  Barnes said that he provided the estimate to Crawley after he told Barnes about the inflated contract allegations.  Crawley claimed that he had no knowledge of McCormick’s over-charging of the t-shirts. [Houston Chronicle, 3/30/04, 3/31/04]