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U.S. v. INTERNATIONAL BROTH. OF TEAMSTERS

April 3, 2001

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA PLAINTIFFS,
V.
INTERNATIONAL BROTHERHOOD OF TEAMSTERS, ET AL., DEFENDANTS. INDEPENDENT REVIEW BOARD APPLICATION 90 (THOMAS R. O'DONNELL).



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Preska, District Judge.

MEMORANDUM and ORDER

This opinion emanates from the voluntary settlement of an action commenced by the United States of America against, inter alia, the International Brotherhood of Teamsters ("IBT" or "union") and the IBT's General Executive Board. The settlement is embodied in the voluntary consent decree order entered March 14, 1989 ("Consent Decree"). The goals of the Consent Decree are to rid the IBT of the hideous influence of organized crime and establish a culture of democracy within the union. The long history of this case has been set forth in the Court's numerous prior opinions. Accordingly, only those facts necessary for resolving the instant matter shall be set forth.

Currently before the Court is Application 90 of the Independent Review Board ("IRB") ("Application 90"), dated November 14, 2000. In Application 90, the IRB requests that the Court affirm the IRB's November 13, 2000 Opinion and Decision ("IRB Decision"). For the reasons set forth below, I grant IRB Application 90 and affirm the IRB Decision in all respects.

Background

During the 1996 IBT election, the campaign of James P. Hoffa requested that Thomas O'Donnell ("O'Donnell"), then candidate for IBT Vice President-at-Large and currently Local Union 817 President and IBT Vice President-at-Large, hire Kevin Currie ("Mr. Currie") as Campaign Coordinator. See IRB Decision at 2. In an interview with Mr. Currie in May 1996, O'Donnell asked whether Mr. Currie had a criminal record. See id. Although he had been convicted of grand larceny in the State of New York, Mr. Currie answered that he did not have a criminal record, and O'Donnell hired him as Campaign Coordinator with a salary of $700 per week. See id. Shortly thereafter, O'Donnell learned of Currie's criminal record, became upset, and began thinking of ways to punish Mr. Currie. See id. at 3. For the purpose of offending Mr. Currie, O'Donnell decided and informed Mr. Currie that he would pay Mr. Currie's salary to Currie's wife, Marianne Currie ("Mrs. Currie"). See id.

From May 1996 through October 1996, O'Donnell's campaign wrote eleven checks to Mrs. Currie, signed by O'Donnell, totaling $12,684.75, reflecting Mr. Currie's salary as Campaign Coordinator, less taxes, which were withheld in Mrs. Currie's name. See id. at 3-4. In November 1996, O'Donnell fired Mr. Currie and stopped paying his salary. See id. at 4. Mr. Currie was then hired by Hoffa's campaign, with a similar payment arrangement to Mrs. Currie. See id.

Under the Rules for the 1995-1996 IBT International Union Delegate and Officer Election ("IBT Election Rules"), every candidate was required to file periodic Campaign Contribution and Expenditure Reports ("CCERs" or "Reports" or "forms") detailing each contribution and expenditure over $100. O'Donnell signed and certified as true five such CCERs listing "Mary Ann Currie" as the "payee" of the salary that was due to Mr. Currie on account of his services. Next to Mrs. Currie's name, the purpose of the expenditure was described as "salary/campaign coordinator." See IRB Investigative Report, Exs. 1,6,8,10,12. Each of these CCERs listed Mr. Currie separately, on the same page, as the "payee" of various other expenditures, for the stated "purpose" of "misc supplies" and "campaign materials." See id. The CCERs were prepared at O'Donnell's request by Matthew Dapolito, who served as the CPA for Local Union 817 and for O'Donnell's campaign, based on information provided him by O'Donnell or the staff secretary of Local Union 817, Kathleen Kreinbihl. O'Donnell reviewed, signed and submitted the CCERs. See IRB Decision at 5-6.

On December 3, 1998, the IRB issued an Investigative Report and forwarded it to Tom Sever, then Acting General President of the IBT, recommending charges against O'Donnell for bringing reproach upon the IBT in violation of Article II, Section 2(a) of the IBT Constitution by filing CCERs in which he failed to disclose the payments to Mr. Currie. See IRB Hearing Transcript, Ex. 1, at 1. Sever filed the proposed charges and, after taking office on March 19, 1999, C. Thomas Keegel, General Secretary-Treasurer of the IBT ("Keegel"), referred the charges to Joint Council 16 ("Joint Council") for resolution. See IRB Hearing Transcript, Ex. 4.

On May 20, 1999, a panel appointed by the Joint Council held a hearing on the matter and on October 20, 1999, the panel issued a Report and Recommendation. See IRB Hearing Transcript, Ex. 10. The Joint Council found that O'Donnell violated Article II, Section 2(a) of the IBT Constitution when he intentionally filed CCERs that failed to disclose payments to Mr. Currie for his services, but that O'Donnell did not intend to deceive the Election Officer. See id. at 9. The Joint Council recommended that O'Donnell forfeit thirty days salary from the IBT and cease providing services as an officer of the IBT for this period. See id. On November 1, 1999, having reviewed the Joint Council's Report and Recommendation, Keegel issued a decision finding that O'Donnell had violated his obligation to file accurate and complete CCERs and thereby had violated Article II, Section 2(a) of the IBT Constitution, and directing O'Donnell to pay a fine of $6,500. See id. at 3-4.

Upon review of Keegel's decision, the IRB informed Keegel, through John J. Cronin, Jr., Administrator of the IRB, in a letter dated January 4, 2000, that it found the IBT's finding and sanction inadequate and returned the matter to the IBT for reconsideration. See IRB Hearing Transcript, Ex. 12 at 1. Specifically, the IRB stated that the conclusion that O'Donnell had acted without intent to deceive the Election Officer was contrary to the facts and that, regardless of his motive, O'Donnell had intentionally signed and submitted false CCERs. See id. Accordingly, Keegel reviewed and reexamined the record and his findings and conclusions, and by letter dated January 21, 2000, Keegel informed the IRB that he would not disturb the original decision. See IRB Hearing Transcript, Ex. 13 at 1. Additionally, Keegel stated his finding that O'Donnell believed the CCERs were accurate and thus he did not intentionally fail to disclose payments to Mr. Currie for services rendered to the campaign. See id. at 4. The IRB again found Keegel's decision inadequate and by letter dated February 3, 1999, the IRB informed Keegel and O'Donnell that it had scheduled a de novo hearing to consider the charges against O'Donnell. See IRB Hearing Transcript, Ex. 14.

Discussion

I. Standard of Review

The Court reviews determinations made by the IRB under an "extremely deferential standard of review." United States v. International Bhd. of Teamsters ("Simpson"), 120 F.3d 341, 346 (2d Cir. 1997) (quoting United States v. International Bhd. of Teamsters ("DiGirlamo"), 19 F.3d 816, 819-20 (2d Cir.), cert. denied, 513 U.S. 873, 115 S.Ct. 199, 130 L.Ed.2d 130 (1994)). Specifically, under both the Consent Decree and the Rules and Procedures for the Operation of the Independent Review Board ("IRB Rules"), "[i]n reviewing actions of the IRB, this Court shall apply the same standard of review applicable to review of final federal agency action under the Administrative Procedure Act." IRB Rules, ¶ O; Consent Decree, Art. K (same). See United States v. International Bhd. of Teamsters ("Giacumbo"), 170 F.3d 136, 141 (2d Cir. 1999).

Therefore, as the Court of Appeals has directed, the Court reviews the IRB's findings of fact for "`substantial evidence' on the whole record." Id. at 143. Substantial evidence "is more than a mere scintilla [and] means such relevant evidence as a reasonable mind might accept as adequate to support a conclusion." Id. (citations omitted). Therefore, for example, "the possibility of drawing two inconsistent conclusions from the evidence does not prevent [the IRB's] finding from being supported by substantial evidence." Id. (quoting Illinois Cent. R.R. v. Norfolk & W. Ry., 385 U.S. 57, 69, 87 S.Ct. 255, 17 L.Ed.2d 162 (1966)) (internal citations omitted).

Moreover, "[a]ssuming that the [IRB's] findings of fact are supported by substantial evidence, inferences based on those findings are discretionary and can only be disturbed if they are arbitrary and capricious. When reviewing inferences, [the Court is] obliged to guard against [the IRB] drawing inferences that are arbitrary in relation to the facts found, no matter ...


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