In an article yesterday about a Miami waterfront corruption trial, the quote "People in disfavor [with the ILA] wind up on their backs in bed, sipping soup through a straw, with their arms and legs in traction" was incorrectly attributed. It should have been credited to Landon Williams, the Jacksonville, Fla., local president of the International Longshoremen's Association.
Federal prosecutors won a major victory today in a waterfront corruption trial when a judge ruled that they may present hearsay testimony to a jury.
U.S. District Court Judge William Hoeveler ruled that the government had showed "substantial evidence" of a conspiracy, a prerequisite for prosecutors to present hearsay testimony. Hearsay evidence usually is barred unless an exception is granted.
The judge ruled in the absence of the jury after a 6 1/2-day hearing during which the prosecution presented the highlights of its case. His ruling applies to 12 of 13 remaining defendants.
Joe Teitelbaum, 46, the government's major witness, who used his position as a shipping executive to work undercover for the FBI for three years, poured out a wealth of details about a 10-year series of alleged kickbacks, payoffs, threats, sweetheart deals and favors for officials of the International Longshoremen's Association.
He and other witnesses testified of threats of broken arms and legs, of white envelopes containing $100 bills passed in men's rooms, of a whispered "contract" for an assassination and of suspicious union officials checking shoes for a hidden tape recorder.
They also talked of a compact worked out between rival New York and Miami factions of the ILA to divide the East Coast waterfront at Norfolk, Va., for control over payoffs from shipping container repairs.
Testimony routinely came out sounding like the script for the classic film, "On the Waterfront."
"People in disfavor (with the ILA) wind up on their backs in bed, sipping soup through a straw, with their arms and legs in traction," said Miami ILA local president Cleveland Turner during contract negotiations, according to the testimony of Raymond DeMott, president of Great Southern Trailer Corp.
The conversation occurred as Turner and other ILA officials, all defendants in the case, demanded and got an initial payoff of $11,000 plus 30 cents per hour for container repair work in Savannah done by DeMott's firm, the witness said.
Twenty-two dockside businessmen and ILA officials from Miami, Savannah, Ga., Jacksonville, Fla., and Mobile, Ala., were indicted last year on charges of racketeering, conspiracy, labor law violations and income tax evasion.
Eight have pleaded guilty. One will be tried separately.
Teitelbaum's testimony is buttressed by FBI agents who worked undercover in Teitelbaum firms and testified to making payoffs to some of the defendants.
The government also has available about 200 tapes of conversations between Teitelbaum, FBI agents and some defendants, which are the product of court-ordered wiretaps, body tape recorders and room bugging devices.
As the government played its first tape, made from a recorder worn by Teitelbaum Dec. 16, 1975, the murmured lub-dub of his heartbeat sounded through the courtroom.
Teitelbaum testified during a Feb. 11, 1976, meeting with three ILA officials of Miami Local 1922 that he was ordered to take his shoes off so they could check whether he had a concealed tape recorder.
"I was very, very frightened," he said.