James “Jimmy the Bull” Deamicis wasn’t the only bad apple in International Brotherhood of Teamster Local 82. But the authorities weren’t about to let him get away. On November 17, Deamicis, former shop steward for the local, was found guilty by a jury in Boston federal court on three counts of extortion. Less than two weeks later, he pled guilty to fraudulently receiving more than $40,000 in unemployment benefits. Deamicis had been indicted in September 2012 along with three other members of the local on 30 separate counts of racketeering, extortion, mail fraud and other crimes against local businesses, especially exhibitors at Boston-area trade shows. The actions follow a joint probe by the FBI, the U.S. Department of Labor, and Boston police.
Union Corruption Update has covered the saga of the Boston-based Teamsters Local 82 on more than one occasion. A four-man union shakedown operation, led by John Perry, ran an efficient extortion ring, accosting business owners, many of whom had exhibit booths at trade shows. Members would demand up-front cash or extract commitments from businesses to hire family members or friends for what amounted to no-show jobs. They also often threatened to picket or otherwise disrupt business operations if their targets did not give in to demands. Among the victimized firms were the Westin Copley Hotel, House of Blues and Pt. Lighting Systems. The “Perry crew,” as this bunch was known, also assaulted union dissenters, in one case attacking a known critic of Perry. John Perry and chief enforcer John Burhoe would be convicted by a jury in November 2014 on various racketeering and conspiracy charges. Another union member, Thomas Flaherty, pleaded guilty this June to more than $21,000 worth of unemployment benefits fraud.
Jimmy Deamicis, 52, a resident of Quincy, Mass., was the last to go down. Also facing 30 counts, it was difficult to imagine him avoiding a conviction. After a one-week trial, the jury returned on November 17 with a guilty verdict on three of the 30 counts: one each for Hobbs Act extortion, attempted extortion and extortion conspiracy. Things weren’t looking good. And Deamicis faced four additional charges – three for mail fraud and one for theft of government property. During 2008-11, prosecutors alleged, he received $41,391 in unemployment benefits to which he was not entitled; he had been collecting a full-time (or nearly full-time) paycheck as a member of Local 82. Bank, employment and unemployment insurance records showed Deamicis had failed to report weekly earnings to the Massachusetts Department of Unemployment Insurance, thus creating the illusion of benefit eligibility. Rather than go through another trial, he copped a plea on November 30.
Deamicis thinks he still has a case. He and his attorney, James Iovieno, intend to appeal the jury verdict. Iovieno put it this way in an email: “The law is quite clear that a labor union may engage in threats to picket in order to obtain jobs and wages for its members. Today’s verdict misapplied established law that has existed for decades.” Prosecutors have a much different view. “A jury unanimously found that Deamicis’ tactics were not legitimate union organizing, but orchestrated extortion,” said U.S. Attorney Carmen Ortiz. “A union card is not a license to commit a crime. The strong-arm tactics belong in the history books, not on the streets of Boston.” The Perry crew's local, like the crew itself, is out of commission. In December 2011, at the urging of General President James P. Hoffa, Teamsters Local 25 took over Local 82. Sentencing for all convictions is scheduled for March 23. For many Boston business owners, that day can’t arrive soon enough.