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UNITED STATES v. INTERNATIONAL BHD. OF TEAMSTERS

January 20, 1992

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, Plaintiff,
v.
INTERNATIONAL BROTHERHOOD OF TEAMSTERS, CHAUFFEURS, WAREHOUSEMEN AND HELPERS OF AMERICA, AFL-CIO, et al., Defendants. IN RE: APPLICATION LVIII OF THE INDEPENDENT ADMINISTRATOR



The opinion of the court was delivered by: DAVID N. EDELSTEIN

 MEMORANDUM & ORDER

 EDELSTEIN, District Judge:

 This opinion emanates from the voluntary settlement in the action commenced by the plaintiffs United States of America (the "Government") against the defendants International Brotherhood of Teamster (the "IBT") and the IBT's General Executive Board (the "GEB") embodied in the voluntary consent order entered March 14, 1989 (the "Consent Decree"). The Consent Decree provided for three Court-appointed officials, the Independent Administrator to oversee the remedial provisions, the Investigations Officer to bring charges against corrupt IBT members, and the Election Officer to oversee the electoral process leading up to and including the 1991 election for International Officers (collectively, the "Court Officers"). The goal of the Consent Decree is to rid the IBT of the hideous influence of organized crime through the election and prosecution provisions.

 Application LVIII presents for this Court's review the opinion of the Independent Administrator finding that the Investigations Officer proved one charge filed against IBT member William Cherilla, the Secretary-Treasurer of IBT Local Union 249, located in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

 I. BACKGROUND

 The Investigations Officer alleges that Mr. Cherilla violated Article II, section 2(a) and Article XIX, section 6(b)(2) of the IBT Constitution by assaulting George Ogg, an officer of Local 249. Section 2(a) is the IBT membership oath, which provides in relevant part that every IBT member shall "conduct himself or herself in a manner so as not to bring reproach upon the Union . . . [and shall] never knowingly harm a fellow member." Section 6(b) is a non-exhaustive list of the disciplinary charges that may be filed against IBT members. Two such charges are violating the IBT oath and "assaulting . . . fellow members or officers . . . or any similar conduct in, or about Union premises or places used to contact Union business." Article XIX, §§ 6(b)(2), 6(b)(5).

 It is undisputed that Ogg and Cherilla were running on opposing slates in a Local Union officer election. Cherilla called Ogg into his office on September 10, 1990, to berate him about forgetting to turn off the air conditioner the previous day. Cherilla and Ogg offer separate accounts of what ensued.

 Cherilla contends that Ogg cursed at him, called him stupid and insulted his wife. According to Cherilla, the two then engaged in a pushing match, during which Cherilla pushed Ogg in such a manner that he caused Ogg to fall face first into a louvered partition wall. Cherilla contends that this ended the confrontation.

 Mr. Ogg provides a different account of the September 10 confrontation. Ogg asserts that he never pushed Cherilla, and indeed, that he had a briefcase in one hand and a folder in the other hand when Cherilla confronted him. Ogg contends that when he turned around, Cherilla kicked him in the groin. As Ogg bent over, Cherilla struck him with karate blows and continued to beat him until he fell to the floor and lost consciousness.

 As a result of this confrontation, Ogg suffered numerous injuries. At the hospital, twenty-eight sutures were required to close Ogg's wounds. Ogg suffered a fractured orbital bone around the left eye, a fractured nasal bone, a deviated septum and torn cartilage in the nasal area. Ogg also sustained four multiple fractures under his left eye and had to undergo surgery to repair the damaged bones and cartilage in his nose.

 The Independent Administrator credited Ogg's version of the facts in part because photographs of Ogg's injuries and the testimony of another Union member, William Sepdy, concerning those injuries rendered Cherilla's version of the events implausible. Furthermore, two office employees who witnessed the incident, Helen Barry and David Winklman, confirmed Ogg's account. The Independent Administrator also noted that Cherilla holds a third-degree black belt in Tae Kwan Do, a form of karate, and that his "office walls are replete with certificates and photographs evidencing his expertise in the martial arts." Ind. Admin. Dec. at 7. Furthermore, the Independent Administrator did not credit Cherilla's testimony or testimony given on Cherilla's behalf.

 The Independent Administrator found that:

 Cherilla brutally attacked and beat a man who was not capable of defending himself. The issue of the air conditioner and the alleged slur of Cherilla's wife, even if made, simply do not excuse Cherilla's violent attack on Ogg. The fair inference here is that . . . [these excuses] were nothing more than a bully's pretext for initiating an attack on an opponent who was clearly outclassed. Consideration of the larger context, the election campaign and the political split between two previously friendly men, puts the incident in its true light. As the Investigations Officer stated: 'This ...


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