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U.S. v. LOCAL 1804-1

United States District Court, Southern District of New York


January 29, 2003

UNITED STATES, PLAINTIFF, VS. LOCAL 1804-1, INTERNATIONAL LONGSHOREMEN'S ASSOCIATION ET. AL., DEFENDANTS.

The opinion of the court was delivered by: John S. Martin, Jr., District Judge

OPINION AND ORDER

On January 3, 1992, Local 1588 of the International Longshoremen's Association ("ILA") entered into a consent decree with the United States of America, which permanently enjoined its current and future officers, agents, representatives, employees and members from "engaging in conduct which constitutes or furthers an act of racketeering activity. . . . [and] knowingly associating with any member, associate or other individual involved in a La Cosa Nostra Organized Crime Family or any other organized crime group. . . ."

By the Union's own admission, from the date of the signing of the decree, officers of Local 1588 blatantly and repeatedly violated the terms of the consent decree. As a result of these violations, the Government seeks a modification of the decree's permanent injunction to provide for the appointment of an Administrator to govern the affairs of the Local. The Union opposes the application, arguing that the Court lacks the power to impose such a drastic remedy and, in any event, there is no need for a Court appointed monitor because the International has appointed its own Trustee to operate the Local.

The Facts

A. The Corruption of Local 1588

At a hearing conducted on January 16, 2003, John Angelone, who served as President of the Local from October 1994 until January 2002 and who was its Secretary Treasurer from December 1990 until he became President, testified that until some time in 1999, the Local was totally controlled by Joseph Lore, a known associate of the Genovese crime family. During this period, Angelone took orders for Lore and he and all of the other officers of the Local kicked back the major portions of their salaries to Lore. In addition, contracts were awarded at Lore's direction and his girlfriend was employed by the Local and provided with a BMW at union expense.

Lore's control over the Local ceased only because of a federal investigation which resulted in the convictions of Lore, Angelone and five other officers or employees of Local 1588. At the trial of some of the defendants in that case, Eugene G'Sell, the former Executive Vice-President of Local 1588, testified that, even before the consent decree was signed in 1992, Lore was picking the individuals who would serve as officers of the Local.

Angelone was replaced as president of Local 1588 by John Timpinaro in January, 2002. In May of 2002, Timpinaro and four other officers or members of Local 1588 were indicted in New Jersey on charges that they conspired to commit racketeering offenses with organized crime figures. While Timpinaro has pleaded not guilty to those charges and testified at the hearing in this matter without invoking his Fifth Amendment privilege, he acknowledged that in a conversation on January 29, 2002, which was tape-recorded by the Government without his knowledge, Nicholas Furina, a Genovese associate, told Timpinaro what to tell the members of the Local about the changes in its leadership. At the hearing, Timpinaro also acknowledged attending social functions with Furina and other organized crime figures.

B. The Oversight by the International

On June 6, 2002, the New York Times reported that federal prosecutors were considering instituting a lawsuit to take control of the ILA because it was under the control of the Gambino and Genovese crime families. On June 27, 2002, John Bowers, the President of the International, appointed three of its officers as a committee to investigate Local 1588 and directed them to work with the ILA's General Counsel and its special counsel, Professor James Cohen.

On December 5, 2002, the committee sent its report to President Bowers, detailing the corruption within Local 1588 and 3 recommending the appointment of a trustee to take control of the Local. On December 9, 2002, President Bowers appointed John D. Baker, an ILA Vice-President, to serve as Trustee of Local 1588.

Discussion

Despite the admitted evidence that the officers and members of Local 1588 repeatedly and flagrantly violated this Court's injunction, the International insists that this Court lacks the power to apply an appropriate remedy. The International also argues that there is no need for a court appointed Administrator because the International has appointed a Trustee to operate Local 1588.

There may have been some merit to the International's original argument that Rule 60(b) does not give the Court the power to expand the remedies of the consent decree, see 12 JAMES W. MOORE, ET AL., MOORE'S FEDERAL PRACTICES, 60.25 at 60-80 (3d Ed. 1990). However, at a conference with respect to the Government's application, the Court noted that the evidence presented by the Government indicated that the Union had violated the decree and that the relief sought appeared to be an appropriate remedy for this contempt of court. The Union was put on notice that the Court would treat the Government's application as one to find the Union in contempt of the 1992 decree and to appoint an Administrator as a remedy for that contempt. The matter was adjourned to allow the parties to prepare for a hearing with 4 respect to the contempt. As noted above, the evidence at the hearing established beyond any doubt that there were repeated violations of the Court's decree.

The Union's claim that the Court cannot expand the terms of a decree to remedy a blatant contempt of the decree, borders on the frivolous. As Justice Douglas observed in McComb v. Jacksonville Paper Co., 336 U.S. 187, 193, 69 S.Ct. 497, 500 (1949):

The measure of the court's power in civil contempt proceedings is determined by the requirements of full remedial relief.
The power of the District Court to appoint individuals to carry out its decrees cannot be seriously disputed. In Local 28 of Sheet Metal Workers' Int'l. Ass'n v. E.E.O.C., 478 U.S. 421, 482, 106 S.Ct. 3019, 3053 (1986), the Supreme Court cited with approval the following statement of the Fifth Circuit in Ruiz v. Estelle, 679 F.2d 1115, 1161 (5th Cir. 1982), cert. denied, 460 U.S. 1042, 103 S.Ct. 1438 (1983):

The power of a federal court to appoint an agent to supervise the implementation of its decrees has long been established. Such court-appointed agents have been identified by "a confusing plethora of titles: `receiver,' `Master,' `Special Master,' `master hearing officer,' `monitor,' `human rights committee,' `Ombudsman,'" and others. The function is clear, whatever the title. (footnotes omitted.)
See also E.E.O.C. v. Local 638, 81 F.3d 1162, 1181 (2d Cir. 1996).

In assessing the appropriateness of the appointment of an Administrator, it is important to note that in setting forth the reasons why the parties were agreeing to its terms, the Decree stated:

WHEREAS Local 1588 agrees that there should be no criminal element or La Cosa Nostra corruption of any part of the ILA or of Local 1588; and
WHEREAS, the parties agree that the purpose of this Consent Judgment is, inter alia, to ensure that Local 1588 shall hereinafter be maintained democratically, with integrity, for the sole benefit of its members, and without unlawful, outside influence;. . .
As the facts set forth above amply demonstrate, the Union's elected officials failed totally to effect the avowed purposes of the decree and repeatedly violated their obligations under the decree. Given these blatant contempts of Court, "the requirements of full remedial relief" compel the appointment of an Administrator with the broad powers necessary to insure that there will be no further violations of the decree.

The International argues that, since the specific portions of the decree that were violated referred only to the obligations of the officers and agents of the union not to commit violations of the law and not to associate with members and associates of organized crime, the Court can only impose a remedy on the individuals who violated the decree and may not impose a remedy on the Union itself. However, the Union signed the decree and 6 thereby agreed that its terms should be enforced. Since the decree was violated by officers of the Union, their acts are the acts of the Union and it is appropriate to provide a remedy that insures that the Union will not allow such misconduct to occur in the future. See Drywall Tapers Local 1974 v. Local 530 of the Operative Plasterers & Cement Mason Int'l Ass'n, 889 F.2d 389, 396 (2d Cir. 1989); NLRB Teamsters Local 327, 592 F.2d 921, 928 (6th Cir. 1979).

The Union also contends that there is no need for a court appointed Administrator for Local 1588 because the International has appointed a Trustee to protect the rights of its members. While the willingness of an International to take effective action to deal with the problems in a Local might in some circumstances persuade the Court that there is no need for court intervention to protect the rights of union members, the actions of the International with respect to Local 1588 are less than impressive.

A clear insight into the problem of entrusting the protection of the Local to the care of the International is found in the June 27 letter of President Bowers appointing the committee to investigate Local 1588. That letter begins:

As you are aware, two local presidents of Local 1588 have recently been indicted on charges involving the rights of Local 1588 members. (Emphasis added.)
One of the "recently" indicted presidents was John Angelone, who had been arrested on racketeering charges more than three years before the committee was appointed and who had pleaded guilty to the charges on which he was indicted more than 2 1/2 years before President Bowers gave any thought to trying to protect the rights of the members of Local 1588. More significant than President Bower's failure to appoint a committee to investigate Local 1588 for more than 2 1/2 years after its entire leadership was indicted and convicted on labor racketeering charges, is the fact that no one from the International ever questioned Angelone about this illegal activity from the time the charges became public in May of 1999 until he resigned as President of Local 1588 in January, 2002. Nor was any attempt made by the International to remove Angelone as President of the local from the time of his plea until after the Waterfront Commission issued a "Section 8 letter" advising him that, as a result of his conviction and sentence, he was required to resign as President. Indeed, in a conversation tape-recorded by law enforcement officials, Angelone was overheard saying that Thomas Gleason, counsel to the International, had told him not to resign "until the Section 8 letter."

Given the International's total lack of concern about the corruption in Local 1588 until it learned that it might be the subject of a government lawsuit, the Court has no reason to believe that the recent flurry of activity represents a genuine 8 concern for the welfare of the Union's members or a desire to rid the Union of organized crime's influence.

For the foregoing reasons, the Government's application for the appointment of an Administrator with broad powers to direct the operations of the Union and to supervise the election of new officers of the Union is granted.

The Court will hold a conference with the parties at 11:30 a.m. on January 30, 2003 at which time the Court will consider the precise form of order to be entered and the selection of the person to serve as Administrator.

SO ORDERED.

20030129

© 1992-2003 VersusLaw Inc.



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