While Francis C. DeBrouse was still heading a Washington-area Teamster local, he encouraged compaines that employed his Teamsters to do business with a building maintenance firm in which he had an interest, according to testimony in U.S. District court here today.
The testimony, which came at the beginning of the second week of DeBrouse's labor racketeering trial, was part of an attempt by prosecutors to show that DeBrouse illegally used his union post for personal financial gain.
DeBrouse, 47, also is charged with extortion and tax fraud in connection with actions which, the prosecutors allege, brought the former Teamster local president more than $200,000 in goods and services from several Washington-area employers.
According to Abraham Rosenblatt, one of the investors in Gotham Building Maintenance, DeBrouse first met the individuals who set up the firm in 1974, and later that year received an option to buy two-thirds of the firm's stock for $80.
DeBrouse, who then was president of the 8,000-member Teamster local 639, introduced Gotham officials to potenitial customers on several occasions, Rosenblatt testified.
One firm that bought the maintenance firm's services after DeBrouse made the introductions was Giant Food, whose employes were members of Teamsters local 639.
Morris H. Bortnick, vice-president of the Professional Services for Giant Good, testified he first heard of Gothham from Giant's president, Israel Cohen, who told Bortnick to interview Gotham about picking up Giant's exterminating contract.
Bortnck denied that DeBrouse's connection with Gotham had played a role in Giant's hiring of Gotham.
Another company with a teamster contract, International Distributors, a liquor wholesaler, also signed a contract with Gotham after company officials became aware that DeBrouse's son was working for Gotham, according to testimony.
"I didn't think at the time the contract was of a significant nature. There really wasn't that much money involved," said Anthony John Sapienza, controller for International Distributors in 1974. Sapienza said that Gotham provided the services for $24 a month, less money than Gotham's predecessor had charged.
In addition, since there was no economic disadvantage in doing so, the company signed a contract with Gotham on the theory that "to keep friendly with people you have to do business with locally is not a bad practice," Sapienza said.
Lawyers for DeBrouse in their cross-examination of witnesses, stressed that DeBrouse had never yet exercised his option to buy stock in Gotham.
Rosenblatt, Gotham's presient, said under cross-examination that DeBrouse had introduced other people from Gotham to potential customers but never had been directly involved in negotiating contracts for Gatham. Nor did DeBrouse receive compensation for his services from Gotham while he was a teamster official, Rosenblatt said.
After DeBrouse was defeated for reelection as presidnet of local local 639 in 1977, he became the vice president and Washington manager for Gotham Building Maintenance, a salaried position he still holds.
Originally, when Gotham was first set up, the plan was for DeBrouse to become a stockholder, said Rosenblatt. Because of "problems" that might have arisen from DeBrouse owning stock while he was a teamster official, Rosenblatt, DeBrouse and others entered into the stock option agreement instead, Rosenblatt said.
"Is it fair to say Mr. DeBrouse was trying to avoid even the appearance of evil?" asked defense attorney Jack Stevens. "Yes sir," said Rosenblatt.