By STEVEN GREENHOUSE
May 3, 1998
NEW YORK --
The indictment of the Teamsters' former political director, William
Hamilton, is part of an investigation in which prosecutors may
seek indictments against more senior union officials and some
Democratic Party officials, lawyers involved in the case say.
On Monday, a federal grand jury in Manhattan
handed up a six count indictment charging Hamilton with perjury,
fraud, embezzlement and conspiring to siphon union money to the
1996 campaign of Ron Carey, the Teamsters president.
Several defense lawyers representing officials
under investigation said prosecutors apparently hope to pressure
Hamilton into furnishing evidence against Carey and other union
and political officials to help strengthen the case against them.
Hamilton, who oversaw the Teamsters' lobbying
and political contributions, was forced to quit the union in July
when he stopped cooperating with prosecutors. His lawyer, Robert
Gage, maintained in an interview that his client was innocent.
The indictment describes a series of acts
that it says Hamilton; Jere Nash, Carey's campaign manager, and
Martin Davis, Carey's chief fund-raiser, took to illegally channel
money to the campaign. The indictment pointed to several other
officials who it said helped further the schemes, including Terence
McAuliffe, former finance director of the Clinton-Gore campaign,
and Richard Trumka, the AFL-CIO's secretary-treasurer.
Nash, Davis and a Carey campaign consultant,
Michael Ansara, have pleaded guilty to participating in the embezzlement
scheme and have furnished much of the evidence implicating Carey
Mark Hulkower, a lawyer for Carey, insisted
that his client knew nothing about the embezzlement scheme. "They're
obviously trying to squeeze Hamilton and have been trying to do
so for a long time," Hulkower said. "Their whole case
is based on the testimony of a convicted perjurer," he said
in a reference to Nash, "and other people trying to keep
themselves out of jail."
Because of the embezzlement scheme, a federal
election monitor overturned Carey's 1996 victory over James Hoffa,
while another monitor, after linking Carey to the scheme, barred
him from running again. Carey is on a leave of absence from the
On Monday, another federal monitor allowed
Hoffa to remain in the race, clearing him of accusations of major
violations, while finding he had engaged in some improprieties,
like misreporting more than $40,000 in donations.
The indictment against Hamilton accuses him
of approving $735,000 in payments to Citizen Action and other
liberal groups that used the money for a get-out-the-vote effort
to help the Democrats regain control of Congress in 1996. The
indictment says that, in return for those contributions, the Carey
campaign received $185,000 in donations from rich donors who traditionally
gave to those liberal groups.
The indictment also describes a $150,000
contribution that the International Brotherhood of Teamsters gave
to the AFL CIO, after Trumka sent a letter to Hamilton requesting
such a contribution. Trumka, the indictment states, then had the
AFL-CIO donate the $150,000 to Citizen Action, which gave $100,000
of that money to a firm doing mass mailings for the Carey campaign.
Nicole Seligman, a lawyer for Trumka, has
repeatedly declined to comment on the investigation. Trumka, on
the advice of counsel, has invoked his Fifth Amendment right against
self incrimination in refusing to testify before the grand jury
and a congressional committee.
The indictment also describes a swap scheme
in which it says Davis, the fund-raiser, suggested that Democratic
Party officials request money from the Teamsters: The Teamsters
would donate money to the Democrats, and Democratic donors would
then give to the Carey campaign.
According to the indictment, McAuliffe sent
a memo in June 1996 requesting that the Teamsters donate $250,000
to various state Democratic Parties, and then a few days later
Hamilton arranged for the Teamsters to donate $236,500 to the
state parties. Democratic officials then found a business executive
to donate $100,000 to Carey, but that donation was rejected because
employers are barred from donating to union candidates.
McAuliffe's lawyer, Richard Ben-Veniste,
said his client was cooperating fully with federal prosecutors
and "has been advised that he has not been a target of the
Richard Hess, a spokesman for the Democratic
National Committee, added: "To the best of our knowledge,
the DNC acted legally and appropriately."
Copyright 1998 The New York Times Company