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A federal judge in Manhattan has thrown out a suit by the Teamsters union against former boss Ronald Carey and several others, ruling that the defendants’ embezzlement of union funds did not constitute a “pattern of racketeering activity” under the Racketeering Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act. Southern District Judge Laura Taylor Swain wrote in a decision dated Jan. 30 that the embezzlement and other fraudulent activities at issue were all designed to benefit Carey’s 1996 campaign to be re-elected president of the International Brotherhood of Teamsters (IBT), and were not “inherently unlawful” in a manner that posed a threat of future criminal activity. The defendants undertook their actions for “purposes of self enrichment, protection of ongoing relationships with the Plaintiff, and depriving IBT and its members of money, the honest services of its officers and employees and the right to have elections conducted fairly,” Swain wrote in IBT v. Carey, 2952-00. But she added, “Most of these goals — while likely unwelcome to the object of Defendants’ alleged attentions — are not themselves unlawful.” She contrasted the union officials’ schemes with shakedown schemes that “threaten repetition by their nature,” and organized crime groups whose “ongoing illegal goal” generate numerous collateral crimes. Carey won an extremely close 1996 election for IBT president over James P. Hoffa, but the election was invalidated a year later because Carey’s campaign had engaged in improper fund raising. The defendants, mostly former union officials and political consultants, defrauded the IBT by devising a scheme to solicit contributions to Carey’s campaign from wealthy individuals in exchange for union contributions to certain charities or advocacy groups. Carey approved the contribution of almost $700,000 in union funds to various groups. Hoffa won a new election in 1998. The union claims that supervising the new election cost about $2.2 million. Several of the defendants in the present civil suit were prosecuted on federal criminal charges. Carey, who was only charged with perjury, was found not guilty in a Southern District trial in 2001. This is the second time Swain has dismissed a civil RICO suit by the Teamsters against their former boss and those associated with his campaign. In October 2001, she threw out their suit on similar grounds, noting that the complaint alleged no criminal activity before or after the 1996 campaign. The judge noted that the union’s amended complaint contained broader allegations of defendants’ intent to establish lucrative relationships with the union, but she said the factual allegations remained limited to the 1996 campaign. The IBT was represented by Seiff Kretz & Maffeo, while Carey was represented by Judith Brown Chomsky of Elkins Park, Pa.

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