A U.S. District Court jury convicted former Washington area Teamster leader Francis C. DeBrouse tonight of five misdemeanor violations of federal labor law but acquitted him of felony charges of labor racketeering, extortion and tax fraud.
The verdict came nearly seven weeks after the complicated trial began and nearly 40 hours after the jury began deliberating the charges against DeBrouse.
DeBrouse, 47, could receive up to one year in jail and $10,000 on each charge. He remains free under $25,000 bond, with sentencing scheduled for May 23.
The prosecution contended that DeBrouse, president until 1977 of the nearly 8,000-member Teamster Local 639, had corruptly used his union position to obtain more than $200,000 worth of goods and services from companies where Teamster drivers worked. DeBrouse argued that business relationships in question developed naturally in the course of his union dealings and involved no special favors.
The jury found DeBrouse had illegally received more than $10,000 in goods and services.
DeBrouse's alleged use of his position as a labor official for his own ends over the years constituted a "pattern of racketeering activity," the prosecution charged after a two-year grand jury investigation. The 15-count indictment against DeBrouse also charged him with extortion in two instances and with tax fraud and failing to report as income assets he had obtained. The jury rejected these more serious charges.
The jury, which three times reported itself deadlocked, returned the verdict at 7:45 p.m. on its fifth day of deliberations. DeBrouse and his wife Gloria, who was in the courtroom every day during the trial, sat calmly, but DeBrose's daughter began crying as the verdict was read.
Federal prosecutors said at the outset of the trial that the charges were "based upon . . . circumstantial evidence." According to DeBrouse's attorneys, the indictment against DeBrouse was also a product of antiunion bias in the federal prosecutors' office.
The jury apparently rejected the prosecution's contention that the circumstances in question amounted to a pattern of criminal activity by DeBrouse, dealings with companies with which he negotiated were outside the realm of normal customer relations.
One of the misdemeanor charges of which DeBrouse was convicted was the refceipt of $7,000 worth of carpeting from Giant Food Inc. Like the goods and services involved in many of the other charges against DeBrouse, the carpeting was intended for the DeBrouses' $280,000 home in the exclusive Tara Subdivision in Davidsonville, Anne Arundel Country.
Testimony in the trial disclosed that DeBrouse had not paid for the carpeting. A Giant officials said that he had not pressed for payment of the bill because Giant wanted the union leader as a friend. "In the real world you don't go around suing the president of a union," Giant's president and chairman of the board, Israel Cohen, told the jury.
DeBrouse contended that the bill had gone unpaid because of a dispute with the builder of his house over who was liable for the cost of the carpet.
Last June, before DeBrouse was indicted, Giant Food pleaded guilty to making an illegal payment to DeBrouse to ensure labor peace. As a result of that plea, the company was required to pay a $5,000 fine, make a $5,000 contribution to chaity and to cooperate in the investigation of DeBrouse.
The jury also found DeBrouse guilty of illegally receiving $1,771 worth of concrete for the base of night lights for his tennis court and of illegally receiving payments of $200 per week from an airport freight company, Instant Air Freight, through a close friend.
The jury also found DeBrouse guilty of misdemeanors in accepting two exterminating contracts for Gotham Building Maintenance.