Reuters Limited
March 14, 2000

Teamsters Former Political Director Gets Prison Term


Former Teamster political director William Hamilton Jr. was sentenced Tuesday to three years in prison for conspiring to divert $885,000 in union funds to the 1996 re-election campaign of then Teamster president Ron Carey.

Hamilton, 58, had been found guilty by a Manhattan federal jury in November of conspiracy, embezzlement of funds, mail fraud, wire fraud and perjury.

He was accused with three co-conspirators of illegally diverting union members' money to finance the Carey campaign in a series of complex transactions in which Teamster money was donated to liberal political groups, Citizen Action and Project Vote, with the tacit understanding that those groups would donate funds to the Carey campaign.

"Mr. Hamilton did not initiate that concept but he agreed to play a role in it and his role was crucial...He was in effect the gatekeeper," said U.S. District Judge Thomas Griesa in sentencing Hamilton. "No doubt this was an intentional misuse of union funds," the judge said of the donations.

Federal guidelines suggested a prison term of between 46 and 57 months, but the judge said he was "reluctantly" departing downward because of Hamilton's extraordinary public service in which he was active in civil rights and philanthropic activities.

"He has indeed led an exemplary life," Griesa said. The judge did not add fines to the prison term but said he would consider the question of restitution at a later time.

In seeking leniency from the judge, Hamilton said he supported the government's efforts to reform the Teamsters. He said that it was well known that the union had been corrupt and a "handmaiden of the mob." He said he had taken a job with the union in 1995 to help rid it of ties to organized crime.

"I had the best of intentions," he said.

Carey was re-elected in 1996 but the election was later overturned and he was expelled from the powerful International Brotherhood of Teamsters for life after government investigators found the re-election committee had illegally funneled money from the union's treasury to the campaign.

Prosecutors also alleged that Hamilton and his co conspirators attempted to enlist the Democratic National Committee and the campaign to re-elect President Clinton in the financing scheme. The Teamster officials proposed they would "donate" union money to the Democrats' campaigns and then Democrats would find donors to kick back funds to Carey.

Although Terence McAuliffe, Clinton's adviser and fund raiser, was accused of playing a role in the scheme, DNC donors never materialized and no charges have been brought against any DNC officials.

Co-conspirators Jere Nash, Carey's campaign manager, Martin Davis, a Washington-based fund-raiser for Carey, and Michael Ansara, a Boston telemarketing consultant, pleaded guilty in 1997 to funneling illegal contributions to Carey's campaign.

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