(Media Advisory) Teamsters for a Democratic Union (TDU), has submitted a letter to the staff of U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara, calling on the Department of Justice to expedite its widening investigation of racketeering and corruption in the Hoffa administration.
As 1.3 million Teamsters prepare to elect their International Union officers, court-approved anti-corruption officers are conductig a major corruption investigation into the administration of incumbent president James P. Hoffa.
Anti-corruption officers are in federal court seeking subpoenas as part of a widening probe into racketeering, including employer gifts and payoffs to top Teamster officials who rigged the bidding process for business with Teamster benefit funds.
Hoffa and other top officials were taken on at least two European golf vacations by an investment fund owner, Charles Bertucio, who was hired by UnitedHealthcare to land accounts with Teamster benefit funds.1
Hoffa administration officials subsequently rigged the bidding process at a national health benefit fund so Bertucio and UnitedHealthcare were awarded the business even when they submitted the most expensive bid.
The reform movement, Teamsters for a Democratic Union (TDU), has submitted a letter to the staff of U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara, calling on the Department of Justice to expedite its investigation as the Teamster election approaches. 3
The Teamsters is the largest union in North America whose top leaders are democratically elected by the members. The incumbent, James P. Hoffa, is the son of James R. Hoffa, who was convicted and imprisoned for using the Central States Pension Fund for personal gain.
Hoffa is challenged in the race by Fred Zuckerman, the leader of Louisville Local 89 and an outspoken critic of corruption, contract givebacks and benefit cuts. Ballots will be mailed to the union’s 1.3 million members on October 6.
A 122-page report of charges by corruption officers and related depositions, exhibits and court filings document an elaborate pay-for-play scheme that rewarded top Hoffa administration officials for funneling Teamster benefit fund business to Bertucio and protecting his interests in the Teamsters. The documented findings include:
- Optum, an affiliate of UnitedHealthcare, paid Charles Bertucio to secure accounts with Teamster benefit funds.
- Bertucio took General President Hoffa, his top advisor, his chief of staff, two running mates, Teamster benefit fund officials, and consultants on golf vacations to Europe.
- When Bertucio submitted a substandard bid to the VEBA Trust, a fund covering over 20,000 Teamsters, International Union Vice President Rome Aloise and Hoffa’s Chief of Staff Willie Smith shared inside information with Bertucio so he could restructure his bid, charge as much as possible and still land the business.
- Hoffa’s long-time advisor Richard Leebove monitored VEBA deliberations even though he is exclusively a political and campaign operative and has no role in Teamster benefit funds.
- Bertucio landed the account and three months later, he took Hoffa, his chief of staff, two running mates, Leebove, and other Teamster benefit fund officials and consultants on a golf trip to Scotland to the historic St Andrews golf course.
After anti-corruption officers deposed Bertucio, Hoffa’s Chief of Staff Willie Smith falsified records and back-dated checks to try to cover up the free golf trips. The Independent Investigations Officer has now filed subpoenas in federal court for Smith’s phone and bank records. 4
Bertucio is a long-time associate of a top Hoffa running mate, International Union Vice President Rome Aloise, who faces corruption charges and a criminal investigation.
Aloise illegally made Bertucio a Teamster member under what corruption officers call a “sham contract” to give Bertucio a competitive advantage over rivals seeking business with Teamster benefit funds.
Bertucio also hired Hoffa’s son, Geoffrey Hoffa, to buy access to Teamster benefit fund officials. Under oath, Bertucio admitted to investigators that he did not know what Geoffrey Hoffa did for a living, but that he hired him to “help with introductions” to Teamster benefit fund officials.5
The corruption investigation is being led by Joseph diGenova, the former Special Counsel on a U.S. House of Representatives probe into the Teamsters. diGenova is now the Independent Investigations Officer in charge of leading corruption investigations in the Teamsters.
2 Declaration in Support of the Independent Investigations Officer’s Application for the Issuance of Subpoenas, United States of America v. International Brotherhood of Teamsters, 88 Civ. 4486 (LAP); Pages 100-129 of Sworn Testimony of Rome Aloise, Wednesday, November 4, 2015, New York, NY
4 Independent Investigations Officer’s Application for the Issuance of Subpoenas, United States of America v. International Brotherhood of Teamsters, 88 Civ. 4486 (LAP); Declaration in Support of the Independent Investigations Officer’s Application for the Issuance of Subpoenas, United States of America v. International Brotherhood of Teamsters, 88 Civ. 4486 (LAP);