New York Times

More Indictments Possible in Teamsters Probe


May 3, 1998

NEW YORK -- The indictment of the Teamsters' former political director, William Hamilton, is part of an investigation in which prosecutors may seek indictments against more senior union officials and some Democratic Party officials, lawyers involved in the case say.

On Monday, a federal grand jury in Manhattan handed up a six count indictment charging Hamilton with perjury, fraud, embezzlement and conspiring to siphon union money to the 1996 campaign of Ron Carey, the Teamsters president.

Several defense lawyers representing officials under investigation said prosecutors apparently hope to pressure Hamilton into furnishing evidence against Carey and other union and political officials to help strengthen the case against them.

Hamilton, who oversaw the Teamsters' lobbying and political contributions, was forced to quit the union in July when he stopped cooperating with prosecutors. His lawyer, Robert Gage, maintained in an interview that his client was innocent.

The indictment describes a series of acts that it says Hamilton; Jere Nash, Carey's campaign manager, and Martin Davis, Carey's chief fund-raiser, took to illegally channel money to the campaign. The indictment pointed to several other officials who it said helped further the schemes, including Terence McAuliffe, former finance director of the Clinton-Gore campaign, and Richard Trumka, the AFL-CIO's secretary-treasurer.

Nash, Davis and a Carey campaign consultant, Michael Ansara, have pleaded guilty to participating in the embezzlement scheme and have furnished much of the evidence implicating Carey and Hamilton.

Mark Hulkower, a lawyer for Carey, insisted that his client knew nothing about the embezzlement scheme. "They're obviously trying to squeeze Hamilton and have been trying to do so for a long time," Hulkower said. "Their whole case is based on the testimony of a convicted perjurer," he said in a reference to Nash, "and other people trying to keep themselves out of jail."

Because of the embezzlement scheme, a federal election monitor overturned Carey's 1996 victory over James Hoffa, while another monitor, after linking Carey to the scheme, barred him from running again. Carey is on a leave of absence from the union presidency.

On Monday, another federal monitor allowed Hoffa to remain in the race, clearing him of accusations of major violations, while finding he had engaged in some improprieties, like misreporting more than $40,000 in donations.

The indictment against Hamilton accuses him of approving $735,000 in payments to Citizen Action and other liberal groups that used the money for a get-out-the-vote effort to help the Democrats regain control of Congress in 1996. The indictment says that, in return for those contributions, the Carey campaign received $185,000 in donations from rich donors who traditionally gave to those liberal groups.

The indictment also describes a $150,000 contribution that the International Brotherhood of Teamsters gave to the AFL CIO, after Trumka sent a letter to Hamilton requesting such a contribution. Trumka, the indictment states, then had the AFL-CIO donate the $150,000 to Citizen Action, which gave $100,000 of that money to a firm doing mass mailings for the Carey campaign.

Nicole Seligman, a lawyer for Trumka, has repeatedly declined to comment on the investigation. Trumka, on the advice of counsel, has invoked his Fifth Amendment right against self incrimination in refusing to testify before the grand jury and a congressional committee.

The indictment also describes a swap scheme in which it says Davis, the fund-raiser, suggested that Democratic Party officials request money from the Teamsters: The Teamsters would donate money to the Democrats, and Democratic donors would then give to the Carey campaign.

According to the indictment, McAuliffe sent a memo in June 1996 requesting that the Teamsters donate $250,000 to various state Democratic Parties, and then a few days later Hamilton arranged for the Teamsters to donate $236,500 to the state parties. Democratic officials then found a business executive to donate $100,000 to Carey, but that donation was rejected because employers are barred from donating to union candidates.

McAuliffe's lawyer, Richard Ben-Veniste, said his client was cooperating fully with federal prosecutors and "has been advised that he has not been a target of the investigation."

Richard Hess, a spokesman for the Democratic National Committee, added: "To the best of our knowledge, the DNC acted legally and appropriately."

Copyright 1998 The New York Times Company

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