Ponto was a member of La Cosa Nostra during 1981 and 1982.
The Independent Administrator relied on the affidavit of
Special Agent Charlie J. Parsons, the FBI Organized Crime
Supervisor for the Las Vegas Division. Special Agent Parsons
supervised the investigation into the Las Vegas casino skimming
scheme by the Chicago La Cosa Nostra. Special Agent Parsons
indicated that Ponto was a member of the Chicago La Cosa Nostra
at the time of the meetings in question. (Ex 10-2, ¶ 12).
Special Agent Parsons averred that he personally observed
Talerico meet with Ponto in Las Vegas, and the Las Vegas area.
(Ex. 10-2, ¶ 8).
Talerico argues that his contact with Ponto did not
constitute "knowing association" with an organized crime
figure, since he claims that in 1981 and 1982 he was unaware
that Ponto was affiliated with organized crime. Talerico
offered no evidence to rebut Agent Parsons' conclusion that
Ponto was a member of La Cosa Nostra. The record supports the
Independent Administrator's finding that Ponto was a member of
La Cosa Nostra at the time of his six confirmed meetings with
Further, the extent of Talerico's contact with Ponto was
sufficient to constitute "knowing association." The Independent
Administrator determined that "knowing association" should be
inferred from the "duration and quality" of the association.
The Independent Administrator considered the evidence before
him and concluded that Talerico knew or should have known that
Ponto was a member of La Cosa Nostra. The Independent
Administrator considered that Talerico's contact with Ponto was
purposeful and not fleeting. Accordingly, the Independent
Administrator determined that Talerico knowingly associated
with Philip Ponto, a member of La Cosa Nostra.
The record supports the finding of the Independent
Administrator. Special Agent Parsons averred that Talerico
regularly travelled under assumed names between Chicago and Las
Vegas to transport the illegally skimmed monies from Las Vegas
to the Chicago organized crime families. It was admitted by
Talerico that he met with Parsons on the occasions in question.
Talerico has not refuted that Ponto was a member of La Cosa
Nostra during the meetings in question. Special Agent Parsons
concluded that on the basis of the observed meetings between
Ponto and Talerico, and his selection to transport the monies
between Chicago and Las Vegas, Talerico was a close associate
of the Chicago La Cosa Nostra.
The unrefuted facts relied on by the Independent
Administrator in reaching his determination that Talerico's
association with Ponto was knowing, purposeful and not fleeting
were sufficient to find the charges had been proved against
Talerico. The Independent Administrator considered that
Talerico travelled to Las Vegas to meet with Ponto under
assumed names, the circumstances surrounding the meetings
between Talerico and Ponto, that the meetings took place in
rest areas, parking lots and grocery stores, and that the
conversations were punctuated with exchanges of packages and
envelopes. The Independent Administrator's determination was
not arbitrary or capricious.
Talerico's other arguments are unpersuasive. There is no
fundamental unfairness from being charged in 1990 for conduct
that occurred in 1981 and 1982. Talerico's argument that his
association under the charged circumstance with Ponto, an
organized crime figure, cannot "bring reproach" upon the IBT is
ludicrous. His assertion that these charges constitute
vindictive prosecution by the Government is similarly absurd.
That Talerico insists that his travel under assumed names was
his "own business" is of no moment in refuting the evidence
against him. The Independent Administrator correctly concluded
that Talerico knowingly associated with an organized crime
figure, namely Philip Ponto. This conclusion was not arbitrary
C. Penalties Imposed by the Independent Administrator
1. Severity of the Penalty
The Independent Administrator imposed lifetime suspensions
from the IBT on
Talerico, Senese and Cozzo. Talerico and Senese argue that the
severity of this penalty is out of proportion to their conduct.
They argue that the penalty is not permitted by the LMRDA,
29 U.S.C. § 504. They further assert that the Independent
Administrator imposed severe penalties out of animus for
That the IBT has historically been tainted by corruption is
beyond dispute. A review of the evidence indicates that Cozzo,
Talerico and Senese were found to be engaging in the exact
conduct that this Consent Decree intends to root out of the
IBT. The evidence established that Senese was a member of the
Chicago La Cosa Nostra. The evidence established that Talerico
met with known organized crime figures under suspicious
circumstances and opted to spend a period of time in prison
rather than testify before a grand jury investigating
corruption. The evidence established that Cozzo was a member of
the Chicago La Cosa Nostra.*fn2 Such behavior is antithetical
to any standard of appropriate conduct for a union officer.
Accordingly, the penalty imposed by the Independent
Administrator is neither arbitrary nor capricious. Finally, it
is well within the power of the Independent Administrator to
impose lifetime suspensions, since § 101(a)(5) of the LMRDA
contemplates that a union member may be "fined, suspended or
expelled" by that union. 29 U.S.C. § 411(a)(5) (emphasis
added). As a result, 29 U.S.C. § 504 is inapplicable.
Senese and Talerico argue that this Court should review a
lifetime suspension from the IBT with greater scrutiny than
other determinations since such a penalty is in essence a
"death penalty." The Consent Decree does not provide for any
greater review of a penalty determination than any other action
of the Independent Administrator. But that is of no matter,
since this Court has and will continue to review every
determination of the Independent Administrator with great care
and diligence. Given that the goal of the IBT is to be free of
the hideous influence of organized crime, the Independent
Administrator's decision that a lifetime suspension was the
appropriate penalty was not arbitrary or capricious.
Finally, Senese and Talerico posit that the Independent
Administrator imposed more severe penalties on them than on
Friedman and Hughes out of a bias against Italian-Americans.
There is not one iota of evidence in the record to support this
wild and desperate assertion by Senese and Talerico. Such
irresponsible statements by parties and counsel are
unprofessional, and bespeak complete incompetence.
2. The Inclusion of Health, Welfare and Pension
The Independent Administrator asked this Court to clarify his
power to terminate health and welfare benefits of IBT members
as part of any penalty he imposes. The prudent procedure for
this Court to consider this question is for the Independent
Administrator to first decide the question after full briefing
from the parties, and then submit that determination to this
Court for review.
The decisions of the Independent Administrator with respect
to the sufficiency of the charges against Senese, Talerico, and
Cozzo are hereby affirmed. The decisions of the Independent
Administrator that Senese, Talerico, and Cozzo should be given
lifetime suspensions from the IBT are hereby affirmed. The
question of whether the penalties imposed on Senese, Talerico,
and Cozzo should include the termination of health and welfare
benefits is returned to the Independent Administrator for a
determination. The stay on the imposition of the other
penalties is hereby dissolved, and they shall be effective