CHICAGO, Sept. 7 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- An officer of Teamsters Local 743 and three former union local employees were indicted on federal charges for allegedly conspiring together with others to steal ballots in an effort to rig two elections in favor of an incumbent slate of officers in 2004, officials of the U.S. Justice and Labor departments announced today. In two closely-contested elections just months apart, the defendants and others allegedly diverted to their friends, family and confidantes hundreds of mailed, official ballot packages that were intended for delivery to Local 743 members, and then cast the ballots or caused them to be cast to ensure election of the incumbent slate. Local 743 of the International Brotherhood of Teamsters, based in Chicago, represents more than 12,000 members engaged in warehouse, office, medical, service and other industries, and is one of the largest Teamsters locals in the country. The seven-count indictment was returned yesterday by a federal grand jury, announced Patrick J. Fitzgerald, United States Attorney for the Northern District of Illinois; Assistant Attorney General Alice S. Fisher of the Justice Department's Criminal Division; Don Todd, Deputy Assistant Secretary of the Labor Department's Office of Labor-Management Standards; Gordon S. Heddell, Inspector General of the Labor Department; and Thomas P. Brady, Inspector-in-Charge of the U.S. Postal Inspection Service in Chicago. All four defendants were charged with one count of conspiracy to commit fraud by depriving Local 743 of their honest services and to embezzle, or steal, the official ballots belonging to Local 743. The defendants are: Richard Lopez, 53, of Maywood, secretary-treasurer of Locals 743 since 2005 and recording secretary from 1999 to 2005; Cassandra Mosley, 51, of Gary, Ind., a Local 743 business agent from 2003 to 2006; Mark Jones, 48, of Joliet, Ill., also a business agent from 2003 to 2006; and David Rodriguez, 35, of Chicago, an organizer for Local 743 from 2003 until this year. In addition to conspiracy, Mosley and Rodriguez were each charged with two counts of embezzlement or theft of the ballots, which the indictment alleges was union property, and Lopez and Jones were each charged with one count of embezzlement or theft of union property. All four defendants will be arraigned at a later date in U.S. District Court in Chicago. "This indictment demonstrates that attempts to subvert the democratic process will not be tolerated and the rule of law will prevail," said Mr. Todd, the Deputy Assistant Secretary of Labor for Labor-Management Standards. "When a union member brings an election complaint to the Department of Labor, we will vigorously investigate and pursue any attempts to deny a free and fair election to which the members are entitled by the Labor-Management Reporting and Disclosure Act." Labor Inspector General Heddell said: "These individuals allegedly conspired to influence the outcome of an election to gain control of the union. My office will continue to work with other law enforcement agencies, in this case, the Office of Labor-Management Standards and the U.S. Postal Inspection Service, to ensure that union officers serve the interests of union members." Justice and Labor department officials said the investigation is continuing. According to the indictment, Local 743 was required to hold elections for its officers every three years, and had scheduled a mail ballot election to be held in September and October 2004 (the October 2004 election). The Local purchased official ballot packages consisting of an outer envelope in which a ballot would be delivered by mail to each member, a secret ballot, an envelope in which the secret ballot could be sealed, and a return envelope in which the sealed secret ballot could be mailed to Local 743 for tallying. In October 2004, two days after the ballot counting began, Local 743's executive board suspended the tallying before its conclusion and scheduled a rerun election in November and December 2004 (the December 2004 election). The incumbent slate of officers won the December 2004 election, and the Labor Department later filed a civil lawsuit challenging the election results. Under the terms of a court-ordered settlement in July 2007, the Labor Department's Office of Labor-Management Standards will supervise Local 743's next election, scheduled to be held next month. The indictment alleges that between August and December 2004, Lopez, Mosley, Jones and Rodriguez, together with others, engaged in a scheme to rig the election by diverting official ballot packages to the defendants' friends, family and associates, and casting the ballots or causing them to be cast in both the October and December elections for incumbent officers, known as the "Unity Slate," to ensure their election. The defendants and others allegedly caused the addresses of certain Local 743 members to be changed in union records so that official ballot packages would be diverted in the mail to their friends, family and associates, rather then being delivered to Local 743 members in good standing who were eligible to vote in those elections. The defendants and others allegedly caused the addresses of Local 743 members in a computer database to be changed from the members' previously recorded addresses to new addresses collected and provided by the defendants that in fact belonged to their friends, family and confidantes. The defendants then allegedly collected the fraudulently delivered ballot packages, and the ballots later were cast or caused to be cast in favor of the incumbent slate of officers. The government is being represented by Assistant U.S. Attorney David Buvinger and Vincent J. Falvo, Jr., a trial attorney in the Justice Department's Criminal Division. If convicted, each count of the indictment carries a maximum penalty of five years in prison and a $250,000 fine. The Court, however, would determine the appropriate sentence to be imposed under the advisory United States Sentencing Guidelines. The public is reminded that an indictment contains only charges and is not evidence of guilt. The defendants are presumed innocent and are entitled to a fair trial at which the government has the burden of proving guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.
SOURCE U.S. Department of Justice