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United States v. Stofsky

decided: November 7, 1975.

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, APPELLEE,
v.
GEORGE STOFSKY, CHARLES HOFF, AL GOLD AND CLIFFORD LAGEOLES, DEFENDANTS-APPELLANTS



Appeals from judgments of conviction entered in the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York after a jury trial, Lawrence W. Pierce, Judge, finding (1) all defendants, officials of the Furriers Joint Council, guilty of conspiracy to accept payment from employers and to conduct the Union's affairs through a pattern of racketeering, and of accepting such payments, 18 U.S.C. § 371, 29 U.S.C. § 186(b), (2) defendants Stofsky and Gold guilty of engaging in a pattern of racketeering activity, 18 U.S.C. § 1961(1)(B), and of corruptly endeavoring to influence a witness before a federal grand jury, 18 U.S.C. § 1503, and (3) defendants Stofsky, Hoff and Gold guilty of attempting to evade federal income tax, 26 U.S.C. § 7201.

Lumbard, Mansfield and Timbers, Circuit Judges.

Author: Mansfield

MANSFIELD, Circuit Judge:

Once again in the wake of the discovery that a government witness committed perjury at trial we are called upon to strike a fair balance between the need for both integrity and finality in criminal prosecutions. Because we conclude that the perjury in issue is not of such significance as to have unfairly tainted defendants' convictions and find no merit in appellants' other points on appeal, we affirm.

On June 21, 1973, a federal grand jury handed down an indictment naming appellants, all of whom are officers and employees of the Furriers Joint Council (the "Union"), a trade union representing New York fur workers. The indictment alleged a variety of offenses, the principal of which was a conspiracy to demand and accept payments from employers and to conduct the Union's affairs through a pattern of racketeering in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 371 (Count 1) and the acceptance of payments of money from certain employers in violation of 29 U.S.C. § 186(b)*fn1 (Counts 2-22). In addition, Count 23 charged that defendants Stofsky and Gold, the Union's Manager and Organizer, respectively, had conducted the Union's affairs through a pattern of racketeering activities in violation of 18 U.S.C. §§ 1961(1)(B) and (C) and 1962(c).*fn2 Count 24 charged Stofsky and Gold with corruptly endeavoring to influence a grand jury witness in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 1503. In addition, Stofsky, Hoff and Gold were charged, each in two counts respectively, with attempting to evade federal income tax in violation of 26 U.S.C. § 7201 (Counts 25-27, 31-33). After a two-week trial the jury on February 27, 1974, found each defendant guilty on all counts*fn3 in which he was charged.

According to the government's theory, this seemingly wide range of transgressions actually resulted from one common enterprise: a series of arrangements entered into through a middleman whereby certain fur manufacturers*fn4 paid bribes through the middleman to the defendants during the period 1967-70 in return for permission to violate certain provisions of the collective bargaining agreement in force in the New York locale between their fur manufacturing firms and the Union. In particular, the Union contract contained provisions forbidding "contracting" and regulating "jobbing" practices whereby a union-shop manufacturer distributed fur skins to outside non-union production units for completion into merchantable garments. Faced with rising labor costs under the Union contract, some manufacturers sought to exploit the possibilities of employing cheaper, outside labor through use of the non -union contractors. The Union, on the other hand, maintained a surveillance system designed to detect any such violations and was authorized by the agreement to inspect the records of each union-shop manufacturer for the purpose of uncovering any such violations. A complaint by a Union agent charging a violation of the anticontracting provisions of the Union agreement could result in the imposition of heavy fines on the manufacturer or loss of protection against picketing or strikes.

To establish certain counts of the indictment (e.g., Counts 6-14, 18-22) the government relied principally on the testimony of one Jack Glasser,*fn5 a labor adjustor employed by the fur manufacturers association, Associated Fur Manufacturers, Inc. (the "Association"), which was substantially corroborated by other evidence, including testimony by fur manufacturers, a union business agent and two attorneys who were brought into the picture by some of the defendants to assist in furnishing advice to Glasser after he had been discharged by the Association for misconduct and had come under investigation by the federal government. In support of other counts of the indictment (e.g., Counts 2-5, 16-17), the government offered the testimony of fur manufacturers regarding payments made by them directly to certain of the defendants for permission to engage in contracting without Union harassment. Since the principal issue raised on the appeal is the claim that Glasser's perjury tainted the convictions, it becomes important to keep his testimony and its relation to the other proof in perspective.

Because Glasser's duties as a labor adjustor for the fur manufacturers brought him in close contact with officials of the Union, he was in a unique position to act as a middleman in bribing Union officials to permit contracting. He testified that on different occasions during the period 1967-1970 he accepted monies from different fur manufacturers (Sam Sherman, Harry Hessel, Breslin Baker, Karl Schwartzbaum, Sol Cohen and Daniel Ginsberg) to arrange Union protection for their illegal contracting, part of which he kept and the balance of which he paid over to one or more of the four defendants. Following the payments the manufacturers who paid the monies received preferential treatment from the Union in its enforcement of the anti -contracting provisions of the collective bargaining agreement. On the rare occasions when a Union agent, apparently unaware of the illegal arrangement, filed a complaint charging contracting in violation of the agreement, the complaint was suppressed by the defendants or disposed of through imposition of a token fine.

Glasser's testimony was substantially corroborated by the testimony of one fur manufacturer, Daniel Ginsberg, to the effect that in 1969 he paid $1,000 to Glasser to secure Union permission to use contractors and that the Union agents thereafter discovered evidence of his contracting, Glasser advised that he would take the matter up with Hoff or Stofsky and "have it fixed," following which he heard nothing more about the matter. Harry Jaffee, a Union business agent, testified to receiving from Glasser 6 to 10 cash payments, each of $50 or more, for ignoring violations by two manufacturers (Schwartzbaum Furs and Chateau Creations, Inc.) of the Union agreements' anti -contracting provisions.

The arrangement between certain fur manufacturers and Glasser was terminated when the fur manufacturers association fired Glasser in 1970 after discovering that he had been used by these members as an instrument of corruption. As further evidence of the defendants' complicity the government offered Glasser's testimony that upon being asked in 1972 by an investigator of the New York Joint Strike Force, Detective Civitano, to submit to interrogation, Glasser immediately communicated with Hoff, who arranged for him to meet an attorney, Irving Anolik, Esq., who in turn agreed to represent Glasser for $2,000. Glasser also conferred with Stofsky, Hoff and Gold at the Hotel New Yorker, where they counseled him as to how he should handle himself during the interrogation. Following the interrogation he met again with Stofsky, Hoff and Gold at the Hotel Hilton in New York City, where he related to them his conversation with the Strike Force investigator. Glasser further testified that shortly thereafter he was again called for interrogation and served with a subpoena to appear before a federal grand jury. He again met with Stofsky and Gold who, through the Union's General Counsel, obtained an attorney named Arthur Hammer to represent him. According to Glasser, Stofsky advised him "not to tell . . . anything, to take the Fifth" and that he would facilitate Glasser's receipt of his industry pension. Harold Cammer, called as a witness by the government, confirmed that at Gold's request he had recommended Mr. Hammer as an attorney to represent Glasser in the grand jury investigation.

Another fur manufacturer, William Stiel, testified to making payments of money directly to Gold in 1968 and 1969 for permission to engage in contracting. Daniel Grossman, a large scale fur manufacturer, testified to making arrangements in 1970 and 1971 with Gold and Stofsky for two payments per year of $6,000 each for continuation of Grossman's contracting activities, and to his direct payment of these amounts to Gold. During the period of the payoffs Grossman's firm was not subjected to any fines, picketing or strikes even though Gold inspected skins bearing Grossman's seal in the shop of a contractor, William Poulos, who also testified for the government.

The defense put in by all defendants was essentially the same -- a denial that they had received any monies from any fur manufacturers, either directly or through intermediaries. Although the defendants did not seriously dispute Glasser's receipt of bribes from certain manufacturers, they contended that he never shared his bounty with them but must instead have retained the payments for himself. Lacking support for this theory other than their own denials, the defense on the first day of trial obtained by subpoena Glasser's 1972 income tax return, which revealed the receipts of over $6,000 in interest payments from deposits of roughly $120,000 in several savings banks. Upon cross-examination as to the source of the $120,000, Glasser testified falsely that most of the money had been acquired by his wife through inheritance some 20 years earlier. His wife, called by the government, corroborated this false story. Although the defendants, some six days before the end of the trial, obtained a transcript from one of the Glassers' savings accounts (The East New York Savings Bank) showing that the Glassers had made a series of deposits amounting to $38,156 during the years 1967-70, which cast doubt upon their testimony as to the source of the funds, the defense did not exploit this evidence. Instead it resorted to probate records indicating that the estates of Mrs. Glasser's parents had yielded only a few thousand dollars. In this posture the issue was argued to the jury.

After trial, the Glassers' explanation regarding their bank accounts began to unravel. Drawing upon data derived from additional tax records that the government had provided to defense counsel some seven days before the completion of trial, the defense now discovered that during the period 1967-70 the Glassers had deposited a total of $61,659.05, of which approximately $57,000 was in cash. Questioned by government prosecutors, the Glassers acknowledged the falsity of their previous trial testimony concerning the extent of their 1967-70 deposits, but Glasser reaffirmed his testimony concerning defendants' complicity in the payoff scheme. Indeed, Glasser now maintained that a substantial portion of the additional sums represented what he had retained as his share of further, previously undisclosed illegal payoffs from the manufacturers after paying part of these additional payments to the defendants. Accordingly, on May 31, 1974, Judge Pierce denied defendants' motion for a new trial, pointing out:

"It is far too wide a leap in reason to assert that just because Glasser accumulated $57,000 in cash during the critical time period that, a fortiori, a jury hearing these facts could only conclude that he kept the ...


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