Associted Press

Judge Inquires About Hoffa Charges

By Kevin Galvin

Associated Press Writer

Thursday, August 27, 1998

WASHINGTON (AP) -- A federal judge has asked the court-appointed board that monitors the Teamsters how it is handling allegations against James P. Hoffa, reviving the possibility of a new Hoffa inquiry.

U.S. District Judge David Edelstein wrote to members of the Independent Review Board after Hoffa's opponents complained Hoffa hadn't been fully investigated.

Campaign manager Tom Pazzi said Hoffa had indeed been investigated and a fresh review of allegations from a court-appointed election monitor was unwarranted.

``It was an exhaustive investigation with the election officer using subpoena power and other resources granted to him by the court,'' Pazzi said. ``There is no reason for the matter to go any further.''

Election Officer Michael Cherkasky ruled in April that Hoffa had committed several election improprieties during his 1996 bid for the union presidency and that he had been ``vague and not credible'' in sworn testimony to investigators.

In June, Edelstein increased fines levied against the son of the late Teamster leader Jimmy Hoffa. Despite what Edelstein called ``worrisome and suspect'' campaign practices, he upheld the election officer's decision allowing Hoffa to take part in a new election.

The new election was called after former Teamsters President Ron Carey's re-election over Hoffa was set aside due to a scheme to funnel union money to boost Carey's campaign.

Teamsters for a Democratic Union, a group opposed to Hoffa, wrote Edelstein last week to point out that while the IRB moved quickly to charge, and ultimately expel, Carey, it has shown no sign of investigating Hoffa.

``We urge you to apply an even standard to all Teamster officials and to take strong, immediate action on the information that is before you,'' wrote Ken Paff, national organizer for TDU.

Edelstein, who has been sharply critical of Hoffa from the bench, forwarded the query to the IRB on Aug. 18, asking the board to inform him ``at the very earliest convenient time'' what it intended to do.

The board is scheduled to meet on Sept. 10.

Edelstein oversees a 1989 consent decree that the union signed with the Justice Department to avoid a federal racketeering suit.

The IRB was established to root out corruption in the union, and it reports to Edelstein. The three-member panel is comprised of former federal judges Frederick Lacey and William Webster and labor lawyer Grant Crandall. Its chief investigator is former U.S. Attorney Charles Carberry.

Cherkasky's five-month investigation found that Hoffa misrepresented nearly $44,000 in donations and received prohibited in-kind support from an employer. But the election officer said there was no evidence ``of large-scale cheating or other improprieties.''

The timing of the rerun election is still unknown, as the union and congressional Republicans continue to haggle over who should foot the bill.

Hoffa has called a rally on the steps of Teamsters headquarters for Monday morning when the union's executive board convenes to consider paying more toward the cost of the election. Board members have already voted down such measures on two occasions.

© Copyright 1998 The Associated Press

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