Hoffa faces a growing corruption scandal. Who’s charged and what’s next?
Anti-corruption officers are pursuing charges against top Hoffa-Hall administration officials for embezzlement, taking illegal employer gifts and payoffs, rigging the bidding procedure at Teamster benefits, and other corruption.
Four top officials face charges already, including Ken Hall, IBT Vice President Rome Aloise, Hoffa’s Executive Assistant Willie Smith, and Political Director Nicole Brener-Schmitz—and the investigations continue.
Corruption & Cover-Up
Hoffa has had documented evidence of the illegal employer gifts, bid-rigging, and other corruption since February 12, 2016 when the Independent Review Board released a 122-page corruption report and hundreds more pages of exhibits, depositions, and additional evidence.
The evidence is overwhelming and Hoffa could have acted swiftly. He could have removed Aloise and Smith from their appointed positions until the charges against them were resolved.
He could have ordered the IBT to fully cooperate with the Independent Investigations Officer, the court-approved official in charge of investigating corruption in our union.
Instead, for eight months, Hoffa and Hall obstructed investigators by destroying and withholding thousands of emails and documents.
Hoffa even went to federal court to try to get a judge to suspend the charges against Ken Hall because corruption charges would hurt Hoffa-Hall’s re-election chances!
Hoffa and Hall were able to obstruct corruption investigators until after members had voted. But now, the floodgates have opened.
On November 29, Judge Loretta Preska ruled the obstruction case against Hall should proceed. He faces internal union charges—and he’s not alone.
The Independent Investigations Officer has issued charges against Hoffa’s Executive Assistant Willie Smith for taking $6,000 in illegal employer gifts from Southern Wine & Spirits in the form of tickets to a Playboy bash thrown at the Super Bowl.
The tickets were given to Smith from Southern Wine & Spirits executives via IBT Vice President Rome Aloise, after Aloise intervened in negotiations to pressure Teamsters in Minnesota to accept a substandard contract.
Rome Aloise faces charges and a criminal investigation for violations that go well beyond the Playboy Party scandal.
The Aloise charges include racketeering, requesting things of value from employers during negotiations, trying to leverage jobs for his relatives from UPS, Costco and other employers during negotiations, bargaining a sham contract, and using union resources to punish political opponents to prevent a fair local union election in Local 601.
Former IBT Political Director Nicole Brener-Schmitz is charged with embezzling over $11,000 in phony expenses and repeatedly using her union credit card to pay for personal expenses.
Investigators found that Hall showed “unusual tolerance” for Brener-Schmitz’s serial embezzlement and repeatedly issued her union credit cards even after she was caught using them to make personal purchases.
International Representative Andy Marshall has not been charged yet, but is under active investigation into embezzlement of union funds.
The Independent Investigations Officer has gone to court to subpoena the bank records. Marshall issued multiple credit cards to 11 staff members, and lacked documentation on expenses.
Local unions are routinely audited by the General Secretary Treasurer’s office, but Hall apparently turned a blind eye to financial wrongdoing by the UPS Director for the Western Region.
All Crime, No Punishment
Of all the officials to be charged, only Brener-Schmitz, a bit player, has faced any consequences. She was relieved of her duties in the union’s political department in September but allowed to stay on the job, fully-paid, for another month—a pretty soft landing for a serial embezzler.
Hall, Aloise and W.C. Smith have gotten even gentler treatment. Eight months after news of the corruption broke, not one of them has faced a hearing. They remain on the IBT payroll. Each one of them is a member of the $200,000 club.
Our union was not always so soft on officials accused of corruption.
Before Hoffa took office in 1999, when an International Union officer was charged by the Independent Review Board, they took an unpaid leave from their union position until the charges against them were heard and decided.
That practice gave every Teamster charged with wrongdoing due process and a fair hearing— without allowing guilty officers to enrich themselves off of members’ dues while they delayed any hearings on the charges against them.
Corruption Charges Dis-Honor Roll
Ken Hall IBT Secretary-Treasurer
Obstructing corruption investigations by hiding and destroying thousands of union documents and emails.
Willie Smith Exec. Assistant to Hoffa
Taking $6,000 in illegal employer gifts from an employer in the form of tickets to a Playboy party at the Super Bowl.
Rome Aloise IBT Vice President
Racketeering, requesting bribes from employers, trying to leverage jobs for relatives from employers, bargaining a sham contract, and more.
Nicole Brener-Schmitz former IBT Political Director
Embezzling over $11,000 from the union in phony expenses and repeatedly using her union credit card to pay for personal expenses (investigators noted that Hall showed “unusual tolerance” for her embezzlement and continued to issue her union credit cards even after she was caught using them for personal purchases).
Andy Marshall International Rep.
Under investigation for embezzling union funds, issued multiple credit cards to eleven Local 104 staffers.