When Teamsters headquarters replaces a corrupt official with a trustee, the action may take a long while, if ever, to result in a prosecution. In the case of Jerry Conner, the wait is over. On February 5, Conner, former president and business agent for International Brotherhood of Teamsters Local 279, pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court for the Central District of Illinois to making false entries in financial records of the Decatur-based union. The guilty plea follows a joint probe by the U.S. Labor Department’s Office of Labor-Management Standards and Office of Inspector General.
Jerry Conner hasn’t run Local 279 in nearly three years. On June 28, 2013, Teamster General President James P. Hoffa replaced him with a trustee following an investigation by the international union’s federal overseer, the Independent Review Board. The IRB had concluded that Conner had breached his fiduciary duties to the local in various ways: wrote the minutes for a nonexistent local executive board meeting to justify giving himself a pay hike; gave false testimony to the IRB related to this action; caused the local to pay for at least one campaign mailing in connection with his candidacy for Teamsters international vice president; and arranging for the local to buy a trailer from him without first securing approval by the local executive board. The IRB report also cited the board of trustees for failing to monitor financial records on a monthly basis, as required by local by-laws. In explaining his removal of Conner, Hoffa wrote: “I have determined that an immediate trusteeship of Local 279 is necessary for the purpose of correcting corruption or financial malpractice and otherwise carrying out the legitimate objectives of the local union.”