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UNITED STATES v. INTERNATIONAL BHD. OF TEAMSTERS

May 15, 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 LXXII OF THE INDEPENDENT ADMINISTRATOR


Edelstein


The opinion of the court was delivered by: EDELSTEIN

EDELSTEIN, District Judge :

 This opinion emanates from the voluntary settlement in the action commenced by the plaintiff United States of America (the "Government") against the defendants International Brotherhood of Teamsters (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 Consent Decree's 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 disciplinary provisions.

 Application LXXII presents for this Court's review the decision of the Independent Administrator regarding a disciplinary charge brought by the Investigations Officer against Robert Sansone, the President of IBT Local Union 682 in St. Louis, Missouri. Sansone has been President of Local 682 since 1976. In addition to serving as President of Local 682, Sansone is the President of Joint Council 13, President of the Missouri-Kansas Conference of Teamsters and an International Representative. The Independent Administrator found that Sansone brought reproach upon the IBT by disregarding his fiduciary duty to investigate and act with respect to allegations and evidence that Anthony Parrino, former Local 682 Vice President, was a member of La Cosa Nostra. For this violation of the IBT Constitution, the Independent Administrator barred Sansone from holding office in any IBT-affiliated entity and required that he obtain permission from the Independent Administrator or the Independent Review Board *fn1" before accepting other work with the IBT. The Independent Administrator also prohibited IBT-affiliated entities from making contributions to employment benefit plans on Sansone's behalf as a result of Sansone's status as an International Representative or due to his position as an officer in Local 682, Joint Council 13, or the Missouri-Kansas Conference of Teamsters. The Independent Administrator did not alienate Sansone's vested benefits, and he stayed imposition of his penalty pending this Court's decision.

 Sansone argues that the decision of the Independent Administrator is not supported by substantial evidence and, as a result, is arbitrary and capricious. He also argues that the Independent Administrator penalized him for proffering a defense, which violates the Fifth Amendment's due process clause. Finally, Sansone contends that the Independent Administrator's punishment is arbitrary and capricious. This Court finds that Sansone's arguments are without merit and that the decision of the Independent Administrator is fully supported by the evidence. Accordingly, for the reasons stated below, the decision of the Independent Administrator is affirmed.

 I. BACKGROUND

 The Investigations Officer charged that Sansone brought reproach upon the IBT in violation of Article II, Section 2(a) and Article XIX, Sections 6(b)(1) and (2) of the IBT Constitution by failing to investigate whether Anthony Parrino, former Local 682 Vice President, was a member of La Cosa Nostra ("LCN"). *fn2" Article II, 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." Article XIX, Section 6(b) is a non-exhaustive list of disciplinary charges that may be filed against IBT members. Two such charges are: (1) violating the IBT Constitution, a Local Union bylaw or other Union rule; and (2) violating the IBT membership oath. See Article XIX, §§ 6(b)(1)-(2).

 Pursuant to paragraph F.12(C) of the Consent Decree, the Independent Administrator must decide disciplinary hearings using a "just cause" standard. The Investigations Officer has the burden of establishing just cause by a preponderance of the evidence. December 27, 1990 Opinion & Order, 754 F. Supp. 333, 337 (S.D.N.Y. 1990). After conducting a hearing (the "hearing"), where Sansone was represented by counsel, and receiving post-hearing briefs, the Independent Administrator issued a 21-page decision. The Independent Administrator found that the Investigations Officer satisfied his burden of proving that Sansone breached his fiduciary duty by failing to investigate or otherwise act in connection with allegations of Parrino's membership in organized crime. (Decision of the Independent Administrator ("Ind. Admin. Dec.") at p. 17).

 A. Allegations of Parrino's Ties to LCN

 Specifically, the Independent Administrator found that beginning in 1980 and continuing through 1988, Sansone received a great deal of information surrounding Parrino's affiliation with organized crime. Much of this information derived from media coverage of Parrino's ties to LCN.

 1. Media Coverage from 1980 through 1982

 The Independent Administrator found that in 1980, articles began to appear in St. Louis newspapers linking Parrino with the St. Louis crime family of Anthony Giordano, who died in 1980. On December 28, 1980, a St. Louis Post-Dispatch (the "Dispatch") article, which reported that Parrino had met with mafia leaders soon after Giordano's death, stated that Parrino "is often seen in the company of top hoodlums." The Dispatch reported in an article dated April 26, 1981 that Parrino was being groomed to replace then-head of the family, John J. Vitale, after his death. Vitale died in 1982. The article added that "Parrino is seen . . . frequently in Vitale's company and that Parrino does many of Vitale's jobs for him." In two more articles, dated June 7, 1982 and June 27, 1982, the Dispatch reported that Parrino had been a candidate for leadership of Giordano's crime family. In yet another article, dated November 5, 1982, which described FBI surveillance of mob activities in the St. Louis area, the Dispatch identified Parrino as both a target of the FBI investigation and "a high ranking member of the St. Louis organized crime family of the late Anthony Giordano."

 2. Media Coverage from 1986 through 1988

 The Independent Administrator found that media coverage of Parrino's ties to LCN intensified in 1986 due to the prosecution of Matthew Trupiano, who had assumed leadership of the Giordano family after the deaths of Giordano and Vitale. In a February 27, 1986 article, which detailed the prosecution of Trupiano for illegal gambling, the Dispatch stated that "Anthony (Nino) Parrino [is] Vice President of Teamster Local 682 and a longtime associate of organized crime figures." On July 11, 1986, another St. Louis newspaper, the Globe Democrat, reported that a tape played at Trupiano's trial identified Parrino as a consigliere, or advisor, to Giordano's crime family. In yet another article concerning the Trupiano prosecution, the Dispatch ran a story on April 3, 1986 based on a sentencing memorandum filed with the court, which linked Parrino to Trupiano and highlighted a conversation among Parrino, Trupiano and Vincenzo "Jimmy" Giammanco.

 Finally, on February 19, 1988, the Dispatch reported that three St. Louis labor unions, including Local 682, had contracts with an employer that paid employees less than union scale wages, which enabled the employer to underbid competitors on construction projects. The article alleged that all three unions were "to varying degrees, under the control or influence of organized crime." In contrast to media coverage concerning Parrino, Sansone chose to respond to this article, which implicated Local 682. In a letter to the Dispatch, Sansone denied the story, demanded to know its factual basis, and informed the paper of his investigation into the situation. The Dispatch reported Sansone's objections and reprinted verbatim excerpts of his letter.

 3. Miscellaneous Allegations

 In 1989, Sansone received copies of allegations made by former IBT General President Jackie Presser to the FBI about ties between LCN and Local 682. Presser alleged that Sansone "answered up" to Parrino, who had links to organized crime in St. Louis. At the hearing, Sansone denied that he answered up to Parrino, and he testified that his attorney, Clyde Craig, advised him that nothing could be done about Presser's allegations.

 B. Sansone's Responses to the Allegations

 The Independent Administrator found that Sansone was aware of media coverage concerning Parrino's ties to LCN and that he breached his fiduciary duty by failing to take appropriate action. This does not imply, however, that Sansone failed to respond in any way to the allegations. Rather, the Independent Administrator found that Sansone did not appropriately discharge his obligation to the Union.

 1. Conduct Between 1982 and 1986: Raising Issue with Parrino and Counsel's Advice

 At the hearing, Sansone and Craig testified that in 1981 or 1982, and twice in 1986, Sansone and Local 682's Executive Board discussed Parrino's link to organized crime. Craig also testified that in 1981 or 1982, and again in 1986, he advised Sansone that media reports about Parrino's ties to LCN were unreliable. In addition, Sansone stated that in 1981 or 1982, and again in 1986, he raised the issue of the media allegations with Parrino, who assured Sansone that the reports were false. Sansone asserted that in 1986, he cautioned Parrino about associating with members of organized crime, but he also told Parrino that he could not restrict Parrino's social activities or contacts.

 2. The 1989 Miller Opinion Letter

 The issue of Parrino's ties to LCN arose again in 1989, after Craig returned from a conference of lawyers who represent the IBT and its affiliates. After attending a discussion at the conference about the effect of the Consent Decree on the IBT, Craig advised Sansone to retain outside counsel for further advice concerning Parrino's association with organized crime. Heeding Craig's recommendation, Sansone hired Gerry Miller, an attorney experienced in IBT matters, to analyze and furnish an opinion addressing the issue of Parrino's ties to LCN. The Independent Administrator found that the Miller opinion focused on Sansone's liability for "knowingly associating" with Parrino in light of Parrino's ties to LCN. (Ind. Admin. Dec. at pp. 8-9). As to this issue, the opinion was inconclusive: "We are in no position to provide a legal opinion that Local 682 officials can safely continue on-the-job associations with the local ...


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