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U.S. v. LOCAL 560

January 7, 1991


The opinion of the court was delivered by: Debevoise, District Judge.


In this proceeding the government seeks a permanent injunction against Michael Sciarra prohibiting him from further participation in the affairs of Local 560.*fn1 The trial was conducted on July 16, 1990, but only two witnesses were presented, and the bulk of the evidence upon which a decision must be based was introduced upon applications for preliminary injunctive relief. Fed.R.Civ.P. 65(a)(2). This opinion constitutes my findings of fact and conclusions of law.


This case is an outgrowth of, and now a part of, an action which the government commenced on March 9, 1982 pursuant to 18 U.S.C. § 1964, the Racketeering Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act ("RICO Act")). Asserting that Local 560 of the International Brotherhood of Teamsters was being victimized by racketeering activity, the complaint sought injunctive relief against individual defendants Anthony Provenzano, Nunzio Provenzano, Thomas Andretta, Stephen Andretta and Gabriel Briguglio, as associates of the so-called "Provenzano Group." The complaint also sought injunctive relief against the Local 560 Executive Board incumbents, Salvatore Provenzano, Joseph Sheridan, Josephine Provenzano, J.W. Dildine, Thomas Reynolds, Sr., Michael Sciarra and Stanley Jaronko.

Judge Ackerman stayed his March 16, 1984 Judgment Order pending appeal. In consequence Sciarra and the other members of the Executive Board of Local 560 remained in office.

On December 26, 1985 the Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit affirmed the judgment of the district court, 780 F.2d 267, and on May 27, 1986 the Supreme Court denied a petition for certiorari, 476 U.S. 1140, 106 S.Ct. 2247, 90 L.Ed.2d 693. On June 23, 1986 Judge Ackerman lifted the stay and implemented the Trusteeship provided for in the Judgment Order. Thus, there was a period of approximately two years, four and one-half months between Judge Ackerman's February 1984 opinion detailing the racketeering activity and the 1986 appointment of the trustee and ouster of the Executive Board. During that period, on October 19, 1984 to be precise, Sciarra succeeded Salvatore Provenzano (who had been convicted of defrauding the welfare benefit fund and of receiving kickbacks) as President of Local 560. What transpired during that period is one of the principal subjects of the present proceeding.

Judge Ackerman appointed Joel Jacobson Trustee of Local 560 on June 23, 1986. On May 12, 1987 Judge Ackerman appointed Edwin H. Stier, Esq., in place of Jacobson, and he appointed as Associate Trustee Frank Jackiewicz. Stier undertook numerous measures to achieve his three principal objectives: (a) conducting the day-to-day operations of the union so as to provide effective representation to the membership, (b) using his own background in conducting investigations to organize and oversee inquiries into the affairs of the union and of the pension and welfare funds, and (c) encouraging the members of Local 560 to throw off years of passivity in the face of Provenzano domination and to participate in the affairs of the union.

In early 1988 Stier concluded that although the forces conducive to an uncoerced atmosphere within Local 560 were still fragile and still threatened with organized crime efforts to regain control, an election with suitable controls was feasible.

On February 11, 1988 Judge Ackerman extended the Trusteeship until December 6, 1988 and ordered that general elections be held prior to that date. Nominations were to be made at a membership meeting called for October 9, 1988 and the election by secret ballot was scheduled for November, ballots to be mailed to each member's home to reduce the opportunities for undue pressure.

Certain developments came to the attention of the government which led it to believe that unless injunctive relief were obtained, the result of the election would be to return Local 560 to the control of organized crime, specifically the Genovese Family. The strongest faction competing for control of Local 560 was Teamsters for Liberty, a group which had never evidenced a critical view of the former leadership and which was dedicated to termination of the Trusteeship. That stance of itself was no reason to interfere with the efforts of Teamsters for Liberty. However, the government had come into possession of evidence which led it to believe that the Genovese Family had determined to regain control of Local 560 and that it had designated Michael Sciarra as the Person through whom it would exercise control. Sciarra was a dominant force in Teamsters for Liberty, and he and Joseph Sheridan, also a former Executive Board member when the Provenzano Group was in control, were Teamsters for Liberty's candidates for President and Vice-President, respectively.

Faced with that situation and with the fragile nature of Local 560's democratic forces the Government instituted the present proceedings, seeking an order prohibiting Sciarra and Sheridan from further participation in the affairs of Local 560.

The government filed an Application for Additional Relief and obtained an order to show cause in the original Local 560 case. Sciarra and Sheridan raised a procedural barrier, namely that they were no longer parties to the original action and that therefore relief could not be sought against them by way of order to show cause. In light of this procedural question the government served upon Sciarra and Sheridan a complaint embodying the same allegations and requests for relief as were contained in the order to show cause application.

I treated the government's application as a request to amend or supplement the complaint pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P. 15(a) and (b). The relief requested was an order preliminarily enjoining Sciarra and Sheridan from any further participation in and from otherwise endeavoring to influence the affairs of Local 560. By way of ultimate relief the government sought a permanent injunction containing the same prohibition.

On September 14, 1988, after a six-day hearing, I granted preliminary injunctive relief, barring Sciarra and Sheridan from seeking elective office. United States v. Local 560 (I.B.T.), 694 F. Supp. 1158 (D.N.J. 1988), aff'd, 865 F.2d 253 (3d Cir. 1988), cert. denied, 489 U.S. 1068, 109 S.Ct. 1345, 103 L.Ed.2d 814 (1989). Teamsters for Liberty substituted as its candidates for President and Vice-President Sciarra's brother Daniel Sciarra and Sheridan's nephew Mark Sheridan.

The election was carefully monitored and fairly conducted, and on December 6, 1988 it was announced that the Teamsters for Liberty slate had won. As a result Daniel Sciarra and Mark Sheridan assumed the offices for which they ran. Other Teamsters for Liberty candidates had been elected to complete the Executive Board. Stier, the Trustee, turned over the day-to-day administration of Local 560 to the newly elected officers and Executive Board but continued to serve in a monitoring role.

On January 9, 1989 the newly elected Board appointed both Michael Sciarra and Joseph Sheridan to fill business agent positions. Thereupon the government obtained an order to show cause why they should not be immediately barred from holding any appointed position within Local 560 pending the outcome of the trial in the matter. The government urged that Sciarra and Sheridan gave the appearance of acting as de facto officers of the Local and of exercising actual power consistent with that of incumbent Executive Board members, thus creating the risk of reemergence of Genovese Family control of the Union.

At a hearing on January 30, 1989 I concluded that the development was troubling but that I should not assume without more that the new officers and Executive Board would not exercise full control of the Union or that they would be subject to Sciarra's domination and influence. Consequently I denied the government's application at that time.

The Trustee, pursuant to orders of Judge Ackerman, continued to monitor closely the management of the Union. The new officers and Executive Board members entered upon their duties. Subsequently, Sheridan entered into a settlement with the government, resigning as business agent and agreeing not to involve himself in the future in the management of Local 560. Michael Sciarra, however, remained highly involved in the Union's affairs.

I scheduled a trial on an expedited basis. The trial began on July 16, 1990. Relying upon the entire prior record in the litigation, the government presented one additional witness. Prior to the trial Sciarra submitted a list of approximately 70 witnesses he expected to call at trial. However, when the time came only he testified. Thus, this matter must be decided upon the facts established at the trial before Judge Ackerman as set forth in his February 8, 1984 opinion and upon the additional evidence presented at the two preliminary injunction hearings and at the trial of the amended and supplemental complaint which seeks relief against Sciarra.


It must be emphasized at the outset that the present proceeding against Sciarra is not a new action. It is a part of the larger action which was and is still pending before Judge Ackerman. Many of the facts which are relevant to this proceeding seeking relief against Sciarra were established during the lengthy trial before Judge Ackerman. These facts are set forth in the comprehensive opinion reported at 581 F. Supp. 279. That opinion will be referred to as "Local 560 No. 1."

Certain of the factual findings recited in Local 560 No. 1 bear repetition.

As previously stated, there were two categories of defendants at the time the original action was instituted. There were those individuals who were members of the Provenzano Group. They included its leader Anthony Provenzano and also Nunzio Provenzano, Stephen Andretta, Thomas Andretta and Gabriel Briguglio. At various times there were other members of the Provenzano Group who were either dead when the 1982 action was initiated or who for other reasons were not named as defendants. The other group of defendants consisted of the 1982 Executive Board members Salvatore Provenzano, Sheridan, Josephine Provenzano, Dildine, Reynolds, Sciarra and Jaranko, who were found to have aided and abetted the Provenzano Group when it unlawfully acquired and maintained control of Local 560 through a pattern of racketeering activity in violation of § 1962(b) of the RICO Act.

The Provenzano Group was a subgroup of a larger New York-based criminal organization once headed by Vito Genovese and commonly known as the Genovese Family. The Genovese Family had a settled hierarchy of boss, underboss, captains and soldiers. Anthony Provenzano was a "made member" within the larger family and was, in effect, franchised to engage in a variety of criminal activities such as gambling, extortion, trafficking in stolen property and the corruption of law enforcement authorities to ignore criminal violations. Local 560 No. 1 at 305.

Matthew Ianniello was a captain or capo-regime in the Genovese Family. He was a friend of Anthony Provenzano and an acquaintance of one-time Executive Board members Salvatore and Josephine Provenzano. Local 560 No. 1 at 305, 306.

As Judge Ackerman found, "[d]uring the past thirty years, Anthony Provenzano and other members of the Provenzano Group have engaged in a pattern of criminal and other improper acts, the object of which was to gain control over and to exploit the Local 560 Enterprise." Local 560 No. 1 at 306. His opinion set forth the details of a multitude of actions which the Provenzano Group took to maintain control of the Union and to utilize that control to achieve its criminal ends such as — (i) extortion of payments for labor peace, (ii) intimidation of Union members to control elections, (iii) murdering and assaulting opponents in the Union, (iv) rewarding perpetrators of criminal acts with payments and union positions, (v) voting union payments and pensions to Anthony Provenzano while he was in prison, (vi) recovering kickbacks and fees for influencing decisions relating to Local 560 benefit, welfare and pension plans, (vii) corruptly using enormous amounts of pension and welfare funds for the Provenzano Group's own benefit, resulting in great losses to those funds, (viii) using "actual and threatened force, violence and fear of physical and economic harm, particularly the loss of the ability to earn a livelihood — to induce or coerce the membership into surrendering their federally-protected rights to participate in the affairs of Local 560 in a democratic manner," (ix) systematically appointing and reappointing associates of the Provenzano Group, particularly those with criminal records and a propensity to violence to important positions within the Union, and (x) permitting known and reputed criminals to frequent Local 560's offices. Local 560 No. 1 at 306-316.

None of this, of course, could have taken place without the knowledge and participation of the Local 560 leadership.

Sciarra was appointed a Local 560 business agent in July 1972, holding that position until 1976. He was reappointed in 1977 and became a trustee in 1981. He testified at the original trial that Anthony Provenzano was his idol and that he would welcome back Anthony and Nunzio Provenzano and Stephen Andretta even if the charges against them were true. Even if it were true that Anthony Provenzano had ordered the murder of Anthony Castellitto, Sciarra testified that he would pray for the return of Anthony Provenzano. Instances of Sciarra's conduct during, and attitude about, the events of the Provenzano years are set forth in Local 560 No. 1 at 302-303, 325.

Aiding and abetting, within the meaning of 18 U.S.C. § 2 is complicity with or facilitation of the criminal conduct of another. In order to convict a defendant of aiding and abetting the commission of a crime the government must prove (i) that the substantive crime has been committed, (ii) that the defendant charged with aiding and abetting that crime knows of the commission of the substantive offense and (iii) that such defendant acted with intent to facilitate the substantive offense.

Judge Ackerman concluded that the members of the Provenzano Group unlawfully conducted and participated in an enterprise (the Provenzano Group) through a pattern of racketeering activity in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 1962(c) and 2; that the members of the Provenzano Group unlawfully acquired and maintained an interest in and control of the Local 560 enterprise through a pattern of racketeering activity in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 1962(b) and 2; and that the members of the Provenzano Group conspired to violate both sections 1962(b) and 1962(c) in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 1962(d).

Further Judge Ackerman found that "during their respective periods of incumbency [the Executive Board members, including Sciarra] did aid, abet and facilitate the commission of the § 1962(b) violations. This complicity was exhibited through their appointment and retention in office of certain officials of Local 560 and in their discharge of certain other duties, the collective impact of which has, in particular, directly and substantially contributed to the existence of the climate of intimidation within the Local." Local 560 No. 1 at 335.

The Third Circuit in its opinion affirming Judge Ackerman, speaking in terms of conspiracy rather than aiding and abetting, succinctly summarized the legal conclusions ...

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