Top Hoffa Assistant Suspended

The Teamsters’ court-appointed Independent Review Board (IRB) announced on Jan. 12 that a top assistant to the Teamsters president, James P. Hoffa, will be suspended for 60 days and has repaid $69,500 after IRB investigators accused him of embezzlement.  Carlow Scalf, who is Hoffa’s chief of staff, signed a settlement with the oversight board after its investigators found that he was improperly taking a housing allowance.


When the IBT’s internal ethics watchdog, Edwin Stier, resigned last April, he accused Scalf of working behind the scenes to squelch Stier’s investigation of mob influence over the union’s Chicago affiliates.  The IRB was formed in 1989 after fed. prosecutors filed a nationwide racketeering lawsuit against the IBT.  Under the supervision of U.S. Dist. Judge Loretta Preska (S.D.N.Y., G.H.W. Bush), the IRB has wide powers to remove corrupt officials.


Under Teamsters regulations, Scalf, who was living in Michigan before Mr. Hoffa appointed him, was permitted to receive a monthly housing allowance relating to his duties in Washington, where the union is based. But IRB investigators found that he had continued to receive his housing allowance for 34 months when he no longer had a principal place of residence outside of Washington.


The IRB said Scalf agreed to the settlement before the board filed formal charges against him.  The settlement itself does not constitute an admission or a denial of wrongdoing and no charges will be brought accusing Mr. Scalf of knowingly providing false information to the union.


It is unclear whether Scalf will be allowed to return to his job after the 60-day suspension. Bret Caldwell, the Teamsters’ communications director, said, “President Hoffa is reviewing the facts of the case and will make a decision on Mr. Scalf’s return once he completes his review.”  Urging Hoffa to fire Scalf, officials with Teamsters for a Democratic Union charged that the suspension was far too light a penalty.  Ken Paff, the group’s national coordinator, noted that several Teamster officials had been expelled from the union for embezzling less than $10,000.


In 2001, the oversight board forced Richard Lyter, executive assistant to the union’s secretary-treasurer, to resign after it found that he had taken $3,400 in unauthorized meal expenses. He was barred from future dealings with the union. [New York Times, 1/13/05]