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Recap: Teamsters Trial

By Samantha Abernethy in News on Apr 15, 2009 5:40PM

Three Teamsters Local 743 members are currently on trial for rigging a union election in 2004 that they lost anyway. Federal prosecutors say that they changed members' addresses in a union database, mailing the ballots instead to family and friends. The ballots were then marked with votes for the Unity Slate led by Robert Walston.

Former Teamsters Union president Walston pleaded guilty to involvement in the scheme and yesterday testified against the other three. Walston pleaded guilty to avoid separate drug charges; he apparently purchased and transported a large quantity of cocaine from Houston to Chicago.

The man who officiated the first election in October 2004, John Edward Kasen, testified that he noticed irregularities early on. He was fired by the Local's attorney after raising a number of questions about the suspect ballots. Patricia Velasco was hired to officiate the second attempt at an election in December 2004, and she testified to a number of flaws in the system that made the ballots anything but secret.

But what really brought them down was a series of typos made while changing the addresses in the database. That and the fact that in one single day 100 or so members moved, and they all moved to just a few different addresses, and one user name made all of the address changes.

The accused election fixers are Thaddeus Bania, former Controller; Richard Lopez, former secretary-treasurer and former president; and David Rodriguez, an organizer.

The Chi-Town Daily News has been covering every move of the trial, so if you want to read more, see their series of articles from the last week.