Four former members of the Teamsters union are expected to appear in federal court today to answer charges they behaved like common thugs, committing multiple acts of extortion and racketeering while beating up and bullying their own brotherhood who tried to question their methods and leadership, authorities said.
John Perry, 60, of Woburn, Joseph "Jo Jo" Burhoe, 44, of Braintree, James "Jimmy the Bull" Deamicis, 49, of Quincy, and Thomas Flaherty, 49, of Braintree, have been charged in a 30-count indictment with racketeering, conspiracy to extort, extortion, attempted extortion, mail fraud, prohibition against certain persons holding office and theft of government money.
The indictment alleges they were members of the International Brotherhood of Teamsters Local 82, which was taken over by Local 25 in December, according to the U.S. Attorney's Office. Teamsters 25 President Sean O'Brien did not immediately return a call today.
Perry was the South Boston local's longtime boss and referred to his thugs as the "Perry Crew," according to the indictment. It's alleged they illegally and aggressively shook down hotels, event planners, catering, drug and entertainment companies and even nonprofits who didn't have collective bargaining agreements with Local 82, all "to generate money for themselves, their friends and family members...," prosecutors said today.
"It is critical that local companies and nonprofit organizations be able to engage in business activities without fear of extortion from individuals whose goal is to line their own pockets," said U.S. Attorney Carmen M. Ortiz. "Intimidation and fear of retribution should not be part of the cost of doing business."
Perry made his first appearance late this morning in U.S. District Court in Boston but will not be formally arraigned until Monday afternoon. Prosecutors agreed to release Perry on the condition that he put up his home to cover his $100,000 bail, surrender his passport, restrict his travel to New England, stay away from the alleged victims and turn over a firearm to Woburn police.
Afterward, Perry's private attorney Thomas Butters, told the Herald, "John Perry has done a tremendous amount of good for the members and the employers that he has worked with over the years. We're fighting these charges all the way."
Deamicis, Burhoe, and Flaherty, made their initial appearances before Magistrate Judge Judith G. Dein this afternoon while seated together in her courtroom's jury box.
All three asked to be appointed public defenders — a decision Dein has not yet ruled on.
The three men are scheduled to return to the courtroom at 4:30 p.m., at which time they could be arraigned. In the meantime, assistant U.S. Attorney Laura Kaplan asked that they remain locked up pending the results of their interviews with federal pretrial services, arguing, "Each of the defendants is a flight risk and a danger to the community. I don't feel comfortable recommending any conditions of release."
The arrests were the result of a joint probe by the Boston Police Department's special investigations unit and the federal Department of Labor. If convicted, Perry, Burhoe, Deamicis and Flaherty face up to 20 years behind bars.
Prosecutors also allege Burhoe, Deamicis and Flaherty lied about their income to the Department of Unemployment Assistance and have bilked the state for tens of thousands of dollars in handouts.
Boston Police Commissioner Edward Davis said, "The defendants allegedly used threats and intimidation to force businesses and organizations to hire their members or else, and the threats didn't end there. In this case, the defendants allegedly went so far as to prey on their own, threatening their own members with violence if they complained about not getting work."
"These indictments send a powerful message," he said. "Boston is not a pay-to-play city."