Payback Time for Rigged Vote

July 2, 2008: A federal appeals court has upheld a ruling that a Teamster official who stole a union election must repay his salary and benefits.

Chuck Crawley, then the incumbent president of Houston Local 988, faced a stiff challenge by reform members in 2002. He won the election after he added hundreds of fraudulent ballots.

A jury found him guilty of stealing the election as well as embezzling union funds, and ordered him to pay restitution to the local union of $1.01 million—including his full salary and benefit costs for the term.

Crawley appealed, claiming that the local received his services as president so he should not have to repay his full salary and benefit costs.

But in a victory for union democracy and against corruption, the court ruled that he had in effect stolen the salary and deprived the members of their right to honest services.

Prior to his removal from office, he was an International Representative as well as local president. The former head of the RISE anti-corruption program, Ed Stier, charged that James Hoffa was protecting Crawley despite extensive corruption found by Stier's investigation in Houston.

Crawley is currently residing in the Oakdale Federal Prison in Louisiana, and is expected to be released in August 2012.

Precedent for Chicago Local 743

Currently five former officers and business agents of Chicago Local 743, including former president Richard Lopez, are under indictment for stealing the 2004 election by redirecting hundreds of ballots to friends and employers.

If they are convicted in federal court, this restitution verdict in Houston provides an appropriate guideline for restitution that is owed to the local union and its 12,000 working members.

Click here to read more about the verdict in the BNA Daily Labor Report.

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