By Michael Bologna
September 2, 1999
federal judge in Illinois Aug. 31 approved a plan proposed two weeks ago by the Department
of Justice and the Laborers International Union of North America
to release organized crime's grip on the Chicago Laborers'
District Council ( U.S. v. Construction & General
Laborers' District Council of Chicago and Vicinity, N.D. Ill.,No.
99 C 5229, consent decree approved 8/31/99 ).
Judge Robert Gettleman of the U.S. District
Court for the Northern District of Illinois formally approved
a consent decree establishing federal supervision over
the 14,500-member CLDC. Gettleman also appointed a former federal
prosecutor to monitor the union reform process and a former Illinois
Supreme Court justice to act as its adjudications officer. In
addition, Gettleman appointed a Chicago labor lawyer "trustee/supervisor"
of the CLDC during the duration of the consent decree.
The CLDC performs a wide range of services
for Chicago's 21 LIUNA locals, including the administration
of employee benefit funds with more than $1.5 billion
Randall Samborn, a Justice Department spokesman,
said Judge Gettleman made some "technical changes"
to the consent decree. He noted, however, the function and form
of the supervision process announced by Scott Lassar, U.S. Attorney
for the Northern District of Illinois, had not changed. "The
changes did not change the substance of the consent decree," Samborn said.
Legacy of Corruption
On Aug. 12, Lassar and LIUNA officials announced
they had reached a unique agreement aimed at dismantling
the mob's control over the CLDC for at least three
decades (156 DLR AA-1, 8/13/99). While the district council
was placed under the control of a trustee in February 1998
through LIUNA's internal reform process, Lassar said the
consent decree was needed to address special problems associated
with the legacy of corruption within the organization.
The two-year consent decree establishes a
process by which wrongdoing and ethical breaches will be investigated,
prosecuted, and adjudicated. It also addresses democratic reforms
and membership control of the CLDC through elections next year. The consent decree is highly unique
in the context of the four-year-old effort to erase organized
crime's influence over LIUNA because it marks the first time the
government and the union have sought court supervision of a LIUNA
Samborn said Gettleman chose Steven Miller
to serve as the CLDC's monitor. Miller is an 18-year veteran
of the U.S. Attorney's office in Chicago and acted as
chief of its special prosecutions division until he left
four years ago. As monitor, Miller, who is currently a partner
in the Chicago firm of Sachnoff & Weaver, will investigate
and prosecute charges of corrupt practices and ethical breaches.
Miller will be able to seek subpoenas from the court and access
FBI intelligence to support investigations and prosecutions. Samborn
said Miller is scheduled to make his first quarterly progress
report to Gettleman on Nov. 30.
Gettleman chose former Judge Seymour Simon
to act as the CLDC's adjudications officer, Samborn said. The
84-year-old Simon is a former Illinois Appellate Court
and Supreme Court judge and continues to practice law through
the Chicago firm of Rudnick & Wolfe. Simon also served on
the Chicago City Council and the Cook County Board of Commissioners.
As the CLDC's hearing officer, Simon will hear and issue decisions
on cases brought by Miller and election matters.
Samborn said Gettleman appointed Chicago
labor attorney Robert Bloch as the CLDC's trustee/supervisor.
In this capacity, Bloch will supervise the daily business functions
of the district council. Bloch has been acting in this capacity
since February 1998, when the international union took over the
Dwight Bostwick, one of LIUNA's internal
prosecutors through the Office of the General Executive Board
Attorney, said the process approved through the consent decree
continues the work his office has been doing for the last four
years, but focuses new resources on the union's particular problems
in Chicago. In addition to the original trusteeship
imposed on the CLDC, the GEB has developed several cases involving locals and individuals working under the
umbrella of the district council.
"The consent decree is intended to be a mechanism to continue the success we've had under the trusteeship," Bostwick said. "It is anticipated that the internal officers will work with the monitor to speed the process of reform so the district council can get back to self governance as soon as possible."
Copyright c 1999 by The Bureau of
National Affairs, Inc., Washington D.C.