Two Local Principal Officers Charged

A new report from the Independent Investigations Officer (IIO) recommends charges against four Teamster officials for helping disgraced former IBT Vice President Rome Aloise evade his suspension from the Teamsters and exercise authority over union business.

Facing charges are John Scearcy, the principal officer of the 17,000-member Local 117 in Washington and Mike Pharris, the principal officer of Teamsters Local 166 in Southern California. 

The IIO also recommends charges against Leonard Smith, the Organizing Director of Local 117 and Mike Bergen, the former principal officer of Local 166.

Aloise was suspended from office for two years for corruption, signing a sham contract, employer pay-offs and rigging a Teamster election–and ultimately barred for life from the Teamsters. 

The IIO charges that the four Teamsters knowingly worked with Aloise to circumvent his suspension and to participate in, and direct, union business. 

Scearcy is also charged with “making a false and materially misleading statement” that induced other Teamsters to disregard Aloise’s suspension. 

The IIO presented the charges against Scearcy, Smith, Pharris, and Bergen to General President Sean O’Brien on May 22. 

The expected next step is for the IBT to hold a hearing on the charges; the final decision rests with the Independent Review Officer (IRO), Judge Barbara Jones. 

The IIO report notes that, “This is the second of three charge referrals arising solely from misconduct of persons who enabled and permitted Aloise to violate his suspension order. The first, In Re: Hart, was referred February 28, 2023. The third will issue shortly.”  

The IIO, Robert Luskin, and the IRO, Judge Barbara Jones, are the two officers appointed by the IBT in place to keep corruption out of the Teamsters. 

Their independent status is guaranteed by the Final Agreement and Order signed by the IBT and the Department of Justice, and by Article 19 of the IBT Constitution.

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