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Presser Tipped FBI on 69 Persons, Records Show

December 03, 1987|ROBERT L. JACKSON and RONALD J. OSTROW | Times Staff Writers

CLEVELAND — Teamsters Union President Jackie Presser, during his 11 years as a secret FBI informant, provided investigative tips on 69 persons in 11 cities and described alleged organized crime ties of several Teamsters vice presidents, federal court records disclosed Wednesday.

The information on Presser's FBI activities, outlined in a bureau memorandum, is the broadest description provided yet of the sweep and value of Presser's service to the agency. The memo was unsealed at a court hearing here for Presser and two union associates who are scheduled to go on trial Feb. 15 on labor fraud charges.

Presser's lawyer, John R. Climaco, indicated in court that his client gave the FBI even more information than was reported in the bureau summary. He said that the FBI memo "was only a portion of the information Presser and (co-defendant Anthony) Hughes provided the government."

Climaco, who also serves as the Teamsters' general counsel, initially asked U.S. District Judge George W. White to keep the memo under seal. But he withdrew the request apparently because he believes that the disclosure will buttress Presser's defense that the FBI authorized him to place "ghost workers" on the Teamsters' payroll--the key allegation in the labor fraud case against him.

At the hearing, defense attorneys demanded thousands of additional pages of secret government files to prepare their defense.

The undated FBI memo, headed "Synopsis: Jackie Presser," said: "Source is in a position to provide quality information of illegal activities of the highest echelon of the International Brotherhood of Teamsters.

"In addition, source has provided information detailing the connections between the most influential families of La Cosa Nostra and several international vice presidents," the memo stated.

"Further, source has provided information as to how the (Teamsters') Health and Welfare Fund and the Pension Fund of the Central States has been 'used' by the various LCN (La Cosa Nostra) families for investment in Las Vegas," the FBI said.

The memo indicated that Presser had provided information on 69 persons in 11 cities, and added that much of it had been "corroborated by independent sources." Although the cities listed were deleted from the document, sources who saw the uncensored memo said they included Los Angeles; New York; Chicago; Cleveland; Detroit; Boston; Kansas City, Mo.; Newark, N.J., and Buffalo, N.Y.

None of the Teamsters vice presidents were named in the memo, and it could not be learned if they are still in office.

The memorandum was unsigned, but a source familiar with the case said it was written in 1985 by James L. Moody, chief of the FBI's labor racketeering section, to then FBI Director William H. Webster.

At that time, FBI officials were attempting to persuade the Justice Department to consider Presser's value as an informant and reject a federal strike force's recommendation that he be indicted for labor fraud in connection with placing mob-connected workers on the union payroll.

The FBI "control" agent for Presser also maintained that he had authorized Presser to abuse the payroll to maintain his credibility among his associates. However, the bureau later decided that the agent had lied to protect Presser and the union boss was indicted, along with Hughes and Harold Friedman, a vice president of the international union. They are accused of defrauding the union treasury of $700,000 through use of the no-show employees.

The Central States Pension Fund referred to in the memo is now under supervision of a federal court in Chicago.

Climaco told Judge White that there are 10,000 pages of FBI documents that describe the help that Presser and Hughes provided to the bureau and that the defense needs virtually all of them to properly prepare their so-called authorization defense.

In urging White to order the government to turn over the additional documents, Climaco said that the memorandum "shows Presser and Hughes aiding the government, a fact favorable to the defense."

Climaco and attorneys for Friedman and Hughes said the documents are helpful because "a jury may reasonably draw an inference that implicit, if not explicit, authorization did in fact occur."

Robert L. Jackson reported from Cleveland and Ronald J. Ostrow from Washington.

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