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
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,"
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.