March 2, 2009: At the same time he was the $150,000-a-year president of Chicago Local 743, one of the largest Teamster locals, Robert Walston was involved in a cocaine-trafficking scheme, according to an indictment unsealed on Jan. 22. Walston pleaded not guilty on Jan. 29.
On June 16, 2007, federal agents seized $135,000 in cash from Walston and Victor Matos, one of his alleged co-conspirators. Walston is accused of repeatedly driving and flying to Houston Texas with large sums of cash to purchase cocaine for distribution. He claimed he was going to use the cash to purchase trucks.
In August 2007, two months after federal agents seized the cash, Walston resigned from Teamster office.
He turned the reins of the local over to his associate Richard Lopez. Lopez and Walston were soon indicted for rigging the 2004 local union election by diverting hundreds of ballots to friends, including employers, and then casting them for the incumbents against the New Leadership Slate.
In October 2007, the U.S. Department of Labor oversaw a fair Local 743 election, which was won by the New Leadership Slate, headed by Richard Berg. That closed the book on this unfortunate chapter of corruption in the local union, and opened a hopeful one for Chicago Teamsters.