The Mob and the Teamsters Part 3 -Roy Lee Williams

In this 3rd and final episode, Gary and Cam take the Teamsters and the Mob to its conclusion through the transfer of power after Hoffa to the last mob influenced president, Kansas City Teamster boss Roy Lee Williams

The Big Skim with Roy Lee Williams and Frank Ranney

Dorfman and Presser’s legacy is a loan made to a young real estate developer named Allen Glick in 1974. Glick had known Bill Presser for some time when he was introduced to Milwaukee boss Frank Balistrieri as someone who could help him with a Teamster loan. Balestrieri went to his Teamster affiliate Frank Ranney who reached out to Roy Lee Williams. Williams got direction from Nick Civella, who reached out to Maishe Rockman and the Cleveland mob and Bill Presser for the pension fund loan to buy four casinos for $64,000,000.

The loans were signed, the casinos purchased, and the Cleveland, Milwaukee, and Kansas City mobs began to receive skim money from the Fremont, the Hacienda, the Stardust, and the Marina casinos. The casinos were insured by Allen Dorfman’s insurance agency.

Angelo Lonardo testified that shortly after the skim began, the three families began fighting amongst themselves regarding profit share. They went to Joey Aiuppa and Tony Accardo (Jackie Cerone was in prison) to mediate the dispute, and in return, they received a 25% share of the skim, cutting the total take into four equal pieces going to each family.

New York families were not receiving any benefit from these loans—they lost a great deal of control of the National Teamsters when Tony “Pro” Provenzano went to prison from 1966-1970. Nationally, all mob families held tight control of their area and regional Teamsters locals and Joint Councils (the Provenzanos kept running Local 560), but without a presence on the Pension Board, the Chicago Outfit had de facto control of the union.

Hoffa Makes Trouble

Hoffa had been fighting furiously to undo the Justice Department ruling blocking him from accessing the union. Jimmy still had tremendous power in the Teamsters, and was able to make things happen from the outside—he could even delay Pension loans. He had crisscrossed the country meeting with mob figures looking for help with politicians who could get him re-instated. As incentive, Jimmy offered to stop Hoffa loyalists from gumming up the works…they all turned him down.

The mob knew Jimmy didn’t like sharing power, and they never could have gained so much control if Hoffa had been running the union. Hoffa began speaking to the press about taking back his union. He went on talk shows and gave interviews. He showed up at Teamsters headquarters badmouthing Fitz. As time went by and Hoffa watched other people change the union, he got desperate.

Jimmy began challenging mob bosses. Through his lawyer Frank Ragano, he reached out to Carlos Marcello and Santo Trafficante demanding their support. Normally, other families would have to go through Detroit to speak to Hoffa, but Jimmy did his own thing—he was his own boss, but he was also not protected.

Part of Jimmy’s problem was his on-going war with Anthony Provenzano. Hoffa felt he might have a chance to return to labor if he was able to win the Teamster Presidency outright, member or not, but he needed Provenzano’s support as a Vice President to do it.  Hoffa and Provenzano were unable to make peace at several meetings, and Hoffa became more and more desperate.

Hoffa began threatening to have his loyalists call in all of the Pension loans made to mob front men. This would likely send control of the pensions into receivership and outside mediation. The mob didn’t want any extra eyes on their business.

In addition, Hoffa’s public war against Fitz was getting out of hand. He was constantly drawing attention to Fitz playing golf with the President and creating bad will. Hoffa had been meeting with Charles Allen, a thug who worked under Frank Sheeran, to discuss murdering several members of the Teamsters Board of Trustees. Allen testified that Hoffa paid him $33,000 to kill Bill Presser, Frank Fitzsimmons, and three other men. Then on July 10, 1975, Richard Fitzsimmons’ car blew up in a parking lot while Frank and Richard were walking towards it. Enough was enough.

Hoffa was jumpy and paranoid. There were not many people he would be alone with. He spoke often with the Giacalone brothers in Detroit, but was careful not to be alone with them. Then Tony Giacalone offered one last time mediate a sit down with Anthony Provenzano, a cousin by marriage. On July 30, 1975, Jimmy Hoffa was seen getting into Giacalone’s son’s red Mercury at the Machus Red Fox in Detroit and was never seen again.

The Irishman – side story

Eugene Boffa, a business owner under protection from Russell Bufalino, was going state to state guaranteeing labor peace if shippers hired his company, Country Wide Personnel to supply all drivers. Corporations would pay Boffa, and fire all of their current drivers. Boffa’s would then bribe local Teamsters bosses to pay less than the Master Freight Agreement. When they agreed, Boffa would rehire all of the same drivers the day they were fired for reduced rates and then take kickbacks for the insurance policies he offered.

Boffa bribed members of the Teamsters Board of Trustees to make more connections. In addition, his company provided cars to the Presidents of the Locals that allowed him to scam members. As part of the huge investigation after Hoffa’s disappearance, the FBI discovered that Boffa’s boss Russell Bufalino and Frank Sheeran were in Detroit. They traced the license plate of the car the men were driving, and it came back registered to Eugene Boffa—the car was a bribe.

More digging into Boffa showed that there was a loan for $30,000 from Boffa’s wife to Sally “Bugs” Briguglio’s wife. Sally Bugs was the number one suspect in the disappearance of Jimmy Hoffa. Boffa continued his kickback scheme, bribing Teamsters leadership and area mobs for several more years.

After Hoffa

Fitzsimmons won the Teamsters Presidency in 1976, the corruption continued. A large part of the Cleveland bomb war was for control of the skim. John Nardi was leader of Cleveland Local 410—he was close to the Pressers, and thought they would support him. He knew that Bill Presser was on the Pension Board, and as head of the Cleveland Mob, he would have access to the skim, and the national Teamster power. John Nardi partnered with Danny Greene to take on the current heads of the Cleveland mob…they lost.

Cleveland cemented their future with the Teamsters by continuing to support Bill Presser’s son, Jackie. Jackie Presser was a car thief and hustler who lived in his father’s shadow. He was smart though, and early in his career, he became a Top Echelon FBI informant. Bill Presser and Cleveland wanted to keep a place on the Executive Board. Fitzsimmons supported him, and the Cleveland family reached out to Kansas City for Roy Lee Williams’ vote. The two families maintained a presence.

During the 1970s, several reform groups started in the Teamsters. Members were unhappy with the corruption they saw, and began to run for leadership in the locals. This had happened before—Anthony “Three Fingers” Castlitto ran against Tony Provenzano and disappeared—but was becoming a major movement. Teamsters leadership called on the mob, who sent in thugs to beat up the Teamsters for a Democratic Union (TDU) and the Professional Drivers Council (PROD) The mob did not want reform.

In 1975, Tony Provenzano was indicted for conspiracy after setting up a $2.3 million loan from the Utica Teamsters Benefit Fund pension. In 1976, he was indicted for conspiracy for the murder of Teamsters Local 560 Secretary Anthony “Three Fingers” Castellito. In 1978, Provenzano was convicted of all charges and sentenced to life imprisonment. His brother “Sammy Pro” Provenzano took his place as International Vice President and head of Local 560.

Carter, Deregulation, and the Pension

When Carter was elected, he supported deregulation of the trucking industry. Shippers would be able to set their own prices, which gave more power to corporations, and took it away from the Teamsters, and therefore, the mob. The mob began digging deep for political connections to try to stop the Trucking Deregulation Bill.

In addition to Deregulation, there was the matter of the pension. After years of misuse and poor management, followed by numerous investigations, in 1978, the government stepped in and took control of the Central States Pension away from the Board and turned it over to an independent agency, the Victor Palmieri Company. Palmieri closed the bank, and the mob was desperate to open it back up.

The Teamsters owned a 5.8 acre piece of property in Nevada next to an expensive, gated country club community. Senator Howard Cannon, who sat on the Commerce Committee, and could tie up the bill, lived in the gated community, and he knew his neighbors did not want the land developed into condos. Allen Dorfman and Roy Lee Williams reached out to Senator Cannon, and offered to help him buy the land for $1.4 million… Cannon said if they get the land, he’d get the bill. Problem was, there was already a bid for $1.6 million.

Coincidentally, it was Allen Glickman who had the high bid. The mob told him to drop it, while Roy Lee Williams and Fitz tried to get Palmieri to accept the Senator’s $1.4 million. Joey Lombardo and Nick Civella were behind the scenes pulling the strings on the entire deal…unfortunately, the FBI had a wire in Allen Dorfman’s office, and they heard every word.

Palmieri was stuck at $1.6 million, and Civella, and Lombardo, and even Joey Aiuppa were leaning hard on their men, but without control of the pension, there wasn’t anything they could do. Finally, the land went to another buyer who came up with the full amount. The land sold, the bill passed, and the mob and the Teamsters lost their stranglehold on trucking, all because Chicago, Kansas City, the mob in general, were too cheap to just ADD $200,000 to Cannon’s bid!

Kansas City Takes Over

Roy Lee Williams, Teamsters Vice President, was also the director of the Central Conference. As a side note, Williams received three separate six-figure salaries: one for president of his local, one for Vice President of the Board, and one for director of the Conference; in addition, Williams received a piece of the skim each month. Nick Civella knew Roy Williams had the strongest support among the rank and file of the brotherhood; this gave him a strong case for presidency with Fitz being treated for lung cancer.

Nick Civella met with Cleveland boss Jack “White” Licavoli, underboss Angelo Lonardo, and Maishe Rockman to discuss their support for Williams. Cleveland agreed if Presser would receive the Central Conference position, giving him greater negotiating power in their favor. Civella agreed, so the Cleveland mobsters went to Chicago to meet with Jackie Cerone and Joey Aiuppa. Aiuppa asked Maishe Rockman to leave, but Cleveland explained that Maishe had all of the details. Chicago agreed, but stated that they didn’t trust Presser—they were smart, he was an informant this whole time.

Maishe Rockman and Angelo Lonardo went to New York to the Palma Boys Social Club and met with “Fat Tony” Salerno The Genovese family said if Chicago was satisfied with Roy, Sammy Provenzano would line up delegates. Fitz died in 1981, and Roy Lee Williams was elected President of the Teamsters, all while under indictment for the Cannon bribery. The Civella family was now in charge of the most powerful union in America.

Roy Lee Williams was supposed to nominate Jackie Presser as the director of the Central Conference, but Allen Dorfman relayed a message: Chicago hates Presser and if he got the job, he will be killed. This is fair, because it was Jackie who helped the FBI along with the entire Senator Cannon investigation. Either way, Jackie Presser never got the position.

Roy Lee Williams was only elected to complete Fitz’s original term. He was unable to take control of the pension back from Palmieri. On December 15, 1982, Allen Dorfman and Roy Lee Williams were found guilty of conspiring to bribe Senator Cannon and sentenced to 55 years in prison. Williams agreed to testify against organized crime figures but was deposed from the Teamsters. Kansas City lost a little respect in front of the nation’s mafia at this time. The next election is where the real horse-trading would take place.

Show Notes by Camillus Robinson

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