Williams Backed : Grand Jury Links Mob, Teamsters

Times Staff Writers

A federal grand jury charged Friday that the top leadership of the Genovese organized crime family personally selected Roy L. Williams as president of the Teamsters Union, lined up support for him among key New York locals and after he was elected sought to influence his decisions to benefit the mob.

A former Mafia underboss in Cleveland, who has turned government witness, made a similar allegation last year but the grand jury's charge marked the first time an impartial panel has concluded that the mob helped elect Williams in 1981 and influenced his decisions once in office.

"The Genovese family, drawing upon its influence in the Teamster locals in the New York area, along with other organized crime families, helped elect Roy L. Williams as general president of the International Brotherhood of Teamsters," said Rudolph W. Giuliani, the U.S. attorney in Manhattan, in an outline of the indictment.

'Control' Over Williams

Giuliani further charged that the Genovese family "exercised control and influence" over Williams' decisions as president and "concealed that control from Teamster members."

The accusations concerning Williams were just one of the racketeering charges in a 29-count indictment against Anthony (Fat Tony) Salerno, reputed boss of the Genovese crime family, and 14 other defendants--nine of them alleged high-ranking members of the organization. They were charged with widespread bid-rigging in the New York City construction industry, extortion of food distributors, mail fraud, gambling and violation of the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organization statute.

Williams, who was not charged in the indictment, resigned as Teamsters president in 1983 after being convicted of attempting to bribe U.S. Sen. Howard W. Cannon (D-Nev.). Williams is serving a 10-year sentence in the medical ward of the federal prison in Springfield, Mo.

Although the indictment makes no mention of it, the government witness who first raised the allegations, Angelo A. Lonardo, also told the FBI that he and other mobsters lined up support for current Teamsters President Jackie Presser.

Giuliani, when asked by The Times why there was no mention of Presser, said: "The investigation is still continuing."

The grand jury charged that bids for concrete, without the knowledge of contractors, were rigged during the construction of New York structures, including Dag Hammerskjold Tower across from the United Nations; Trump Plaza, a mid-Manhattan apartment building, and staff residences at Mount Sinai Hospital and Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center.

According to the indictment, the Genovese family rigged the bids by picking a friendly company to make the lowest bid, controlling Teamster drivers who delivered the concrete to construction sites and creating labor problems for those who did not cooperate. The family members forced other concrete construction companies to submit inflated bids or refrain from bidding entirely.

The indictment was the seventh in a series of major federal cases against the leadership of New York's five major organized crime families. In some ways, investigators consider Friday's action the most significant against the mob in New York because the grand jury laid out the national and local activities of a major organized crime family, alleging it not only dominates construction but controls significant food distribution to supermarkets and other stores.

The indictment charged that members of the Genovese family, through extortion, obtained kickbacks from a New Jersey company in return for allowing the concern to distribute food products--including bread, rolls, hot dogs and delicatessen meats--to supermarket chains, sports arenas and street vendors. The kickbacks were allegedly paid to Salerno's wife, Margaret, in the form of "sham" food brokerage fees.

The indictment and evidence to be introduced at trial will charge that the Genovese family's operations extend beyond New York into at least five additional states, controlling for example, the dominant Mafia family in Cleveland. Some of the evidence was gathered by long-term electronic surveillance maintained by the FBI at the Palma Boys Social Club in East Harlem, reputed to be a major base for Genovese family members.

The indictment also alleged that the family used murder to silence people who posed a threat. Salerno and John (Peanuts) Tronolone were charged with participating in a conspiracy to murder John (Johnny Keys) Simone, who was found dead in New York City on Sept. 19, 1980.

Among those named in the indictment was Milton (Maishe) Rockman, a longtime friend of both Jackie Presser and his late father, William Presser, a major Teamsters leader in Ohio. He was charged with wire fraud in connection with Williams' election.

If convicted, Salerno, described by prosecutors as the successor to Frank Costello, Vito Genovese and Frank (Funzi) Tieri as the Genovese family head, could face 55 years in prison and fines totaling $780,000.

Copyright © 2019, Los Angeles Times
EDITION: California | U.S. & World