THE ASSOCIATED PRESS
January 17, 2002
BOSTON (AP) -- A Teamsters boss was named Thursday in a federal indictment charging him with embezzlement in a scheme to give health benefits to 19 members of his local union who did not qualify for them.
George Cashman, who is a member of the Massachusetts Port Authority board of directors, pleaded innocent to the charges in the 179-count document that also names seven other defendants.
Cashman declined to comment as he left the courthouse. His attorney, John Pappalardo, said Cashman had not benefitted financially.
“This is purely a paper case,” he said. “There is no allegation of violence or a threat of violence.”
Cashman, 53, was elected president of Local 25 in 1991 and was re-elected in 1994 and 1997.
He is accused of helping ineligible members of the International Brotherhood of Teamsters Local 25 receive benefits, mostly truck drivers who had not worked enough hours to qualify.
Four others also pleaded innocent Thursday. All five were released on $25,000 bond.
Three other indictments unsealed Thursday allege a broader criminal enterprise, with other Teamsters conspiring to steal truckloads of computer parts and other goods by recruiting or threatening truck drivers.
According to the indictments, the plan was orchestrated in part by John Murray, who was one of the 19 who illegally received benefits and a close associate of fugitive New England mob boss James “Whitey” Bulger.
Murray, a member of the Local 25, was named in a separate indictment for racketeering conspiracy.
Local 25 members were under investigation by a federal grand jury because of allegations they extorted makers of such films as “The Perfect Storm” and “The Cider House Rules” during filming in New England.
The federal investigation turned Massachusetts into a “celluloid pariah” among producers leery of filming in Massachusetts because of the union's involvement, retired Superior Court Judge Robert Barton said in a report last year.