Matt O'Connor, Tribune Staff Writer.
September 1, 1999
A former federal prosecutor and a retired
Illinois Supreme Court justice were appointed Tuesday to lead
the fight to rid the Laborers Union's Chicago District Council
of mob influence. A federal judge overseeing the case appointed
Steven Miller, a veteran of 18 years in the U.S. attorney's office
in Chicago, as monitor, in effect a prosecutor who will oversee
the bringing of internal union charges to oust officers with alleged
ties to organized crime.
Seymour F. Simon, a former judge on both
the Illinois Supreme Court and the Illinois Appellate Court, has
been named the adjudications officer--the judge who will decide
what discipline if any to impose after presiding over hearings
resulting from any charges.
The appointments come less than three weeks
after the district council, an umbrella group of 21 Chicago-area
laborers locals, agreed to a consent decree in order to settle
a civil racketeering lawsuit filed in federal court in Chicago
by its international union and the federal government.
The consent decree approved by U.S. District
Judge Robert Gettleman on Tuesday gives expanded powers to the
monitor to go after mob influence in the union. In the racketeering suit, the international
union and federal authorities alleged the district council has
been dominated for three decades by the Chicago mob and laid out
in detail nearly two dozen organized crime members, their associates
and close relatives who served as officers or supervised some
of the union's $1.5 billion in pension and benefit funds.
The monitorship is scheduled to last for
at least two years, though Simon said the union hopes the cleanup
can be finished sooner. "The aim of the union is to get the
mission accomplished quickly and get the government out of the
union . . . certainly within two years and if possible sooner,"
Simon said. Gettleman personally pushed for Simon, according
to Thomas Walsh, chief of the civil division for the U.S. attorney's
Simon, 84, who also served on the Chicago
City Council and the Cook County Board in the 1950s and 1960s,
still practices law for the Chicago law firm of Rudnick &
As a federal prosecutor, Miller rose to head
the public corruption unit of the U.S. attorney's office in Chicago
and developed a talent for prosecuting long-unsolved homicide
cases by uncovering related financial frauds. Among his most publicized
cases was his prosecution of horse trader Richard Bailey in the
murder-for-hire of Helen Vorhees Brach, the long-missing candy fortune heiress. That
probe uncovered the killing of numerous show horses for insurance
money around the country.
Miller has been in private practice at the
Chicago law firm of Sachnoff & Weaver for the last five years.
In addition to the appointments of Miller and Simon, Robert E.
Bloch, a Chicago labor lawyer, will continue as trustee of the
Copyright (c) 1999 Chicago Tribune