The president of the 627,000-member Laborers International Union has been indicated on racketeering charges also with two reputed organized crime figures for a scheme involving $2 million in alleged kickbacks from union funds.
The Justice Department said the charges were lodged by a federal grand jury in Miami against 16 defendants including union President Angelo Fosco, 60, of Chicago; reputed Mafia chieftain Santos Trafficante, 67, of Tampa, and Anthony Accardo, 75, for many years the reputed chief of the Chicago crime syndicate.
It was the second indictment of the head of a major union in recent weeks. The newly elected president of the International Brotherhood of Teamsters, Roy Lee Williams, was charged in Chicago last month with conspiring to bribe Sen. Howard W. Cannon (D-Nev.).
The Miami indictment, unsealed yesterday after a round of arrests Wednesday night, appeared to be based, at least in part, on information furnished by the ubiquitous Joseph Hauser, a convicted insurance swindler who was also instrumental in last year's indictment of reputed New Orleans underworld boss Carlos Marcello.
The charges involving the Laborers Union hinged on an alleged conspiracy to operate a kickback scheme with union funds, first in Chicago and Florida, and then nationally, with Accardo's and Trafficante's blessings.
The grand jury said the defendants gave and received the kickbacks for steering union pension fund and insurance business to certain firms.
According to the indictment, one of the primary aims of the scheme, which allegedly lasted from 1970 to 1977, was to funnel all Laborers Union insurance business into a nationwide insurance company that Hauser was to obtain.
At one 1974 meeting in Florida, the grand jury charged, Trafficante told Hauser and two other men that when Hauser got his company, "then 'the family' and the Laborers Union hierarchy were going to be a part" of it.
At still another meeting in Chicago, in December of 1974, the indictment continued, Accardo told Hauser they were going to make his company the biggest insurance company in the United States.
Accardo, the indictment added, "also advised Joseph Hauser at that meeting that he was 'family' because of Angelo Fosco's recommendation."
Hauser was mentioned, but not charged, in the 19-page indictment. A Justice Department spokesman declined to comment when asked if Hauser had been rigged to record the conversations.
A broadcast this spring on "NBC Nightly News" quoted a confidential Justice Department study as saying that the Laborers and the Teamsters, along with at least two other national unions, were dominated by organized crime.
Fosco denounced the report, and said he "categorically and completely" denied that decisions about union business were made by the mob or the crime syndicate.
Justice Department spokesman John Russell said he believed that this was the first time Trafficante had ever been indicted for a major crime.
Once a bodyguard to Al Capone, Accardo, who is also known as "Joe Batters," had been convicted on federal tax evasion charges in the 1960s, but he won a new trial on appeal and was acquitted in 1962. At one point during his difficulties with the government over the tax charges, the Teamsters put together $330,000 to buy Accardo's summer home on Lake Michigan, ostensibly to set up a "school" for union business agents.