Kansas City crime boss Nick Civella said in 1979 that he was working with Teamsters leader Roy Lee Williams to regain control of the union's multibillion-dollar Central States Pension Fund in a way that would "protect Roy" because "he's a friend of mine."
Civella said caution was needed since he had assured Williams that "I'm not asking you to do something that will open the penitentiary door."
The remarks were overheard by an FBI agent in a Kansas City hotel room next to Civella's, and were introduced in federal court in Chicago yesterday as the government's concluding piece of evidence in support of a stiff prison sentence for the Teamsters' president on his conviction for conspiring to bribe a U.S. senator.
The U.S. Parole Commission announced yesterday that it was paroling Civella from the four-year term he received in 1980 after his conviction for conspiring to bribe a prison warden. The parole board said it is releasing Civella, 70, today because of poor health. He suffers from lung cancer.
Williams, who suffers from emphysema, is seeking to stay out of prison on the same grounds. Elected Teamsters president in 1981, less than two weeks after his indictment, Williams was convicted last December of conspiring to bribe former senator Howard W. Cannon (D-Nev.) by promising him a piece of pension fund property at a bargain price.
According to the evidence presented yesterday, Civella's remarks were made on March 25, 1979, during a meeting at Kansas City's Crown Center Hotel with Chicago mobster Joseph (Joey the Clown) Lombardo, who said he had been sent by "the old man," an apparent reference to Chicago Mafia boss Joseph Aiuppa. After about a half hour, Chicago insurance executive Allen M. Dorfman, once the prime mover of pension fund loans, joined the meeting.
All three men expressed their annoyance concerning the efforts of the Labor Department and other government agencies to clean up the scandal-torn pension fund and end its reputation as a lending agency for organized crime. Williams, then a Kansas City-based Teamsters vice president allegedly under Civella's control, had been forced to quit as a fund trustee in 1977.
"We got a lot of work to do," Lombardo said. "We got to get the fund back, get good lawyers. Got moves to make, lot of scheming to do . . . . We got to try to put it back together like it was."
Civella agreed: "Roy wants it, I want it."
FBI agents in Kansas City, alerted to the meeting by agents in Chicago who were investigating Dorfman, say they took turns listening through a metal door jam during the 2 1/2-hour session, and jotted down notes. Their report was admitted into evidence over the objections of defense lawyers who contended that illegal mecahnical or electronic aids must have been employed.
Lombardo suggested that Dorfman, who had yet to join the discussion, would be the best person to run the show for Williams, but Civella was cool to the idea. "I don't want him Williams to be a puppet, to be put on a string," he said.
Lombardo kept urging a key role for Dorfman in any case. "Allen has to be close to Roy on the Q.T., just like two peas in a pod, like you and I," he told Civella.