Presser Case Judge Removed After Bias Charge
A new judge was assigned Wednesday to the racketeering and embezzlement trial of Teamsters President Jackie Presser after defense attorneys argued that the first judge was biased against their law firm and Presser.
Without commenting on the merits of the allegations, U.S. District Judge George White removed U.S. District Judge Ann Aldrich from the case and ordered that a new judge be randomly assigned.
The case was later assigned to District Judge John Manos.
Presser’s attorney, John Climaco, said in a May 21 letter asking Aldrich to remove herself as trial judge that she holds “animosity, personal bias and prejudice” against him and Presser.
Aldrich referred the matter to White, who is assigned to handle miscellaneous court matters.
Presser, who remains secretary-treasurer of Teamsters Local 507 in Cleveland, is accused of masterminding a $700,000 payroll-padding scheme to issue union paychecks to people who did no work for the local.
Two Others Charged
Harold Friedman, president of Local 507 and a Teamsters national vice president, and Anthony Hughes, Local 507 recording secretary, also are charged in connection with the scheme.
All pleaded not guilty to the charges last Friday and are free on bond.
The allegation of bias against Aldrich stems from an affidavit she made public in May, 1983. In it, she said a nephew of Chief U.S. District Judge Frank J. Battisti received $41,000 in bonuses while employed by the Climaco firm for cases allegedly steered to the firm by Battisti.
The firm has denied her allegations. The affidavit helped initiate a federal investigation of Battisti, which ended in August, 1984, with no action taken.