Teamsters union President Jackie Presser encouraged violence against dissident Teamsters in 1983 and took part in a "highly suspect" Cleveland theater investment that he said made him a millionaire, the President's Commission on Organized Crime charges in a draft report.
Commission sources said yesterday that Presser invoked the Fifth Amendment when the panel asked him about the incidents.
The commission, moving to wrap up a report on labor racketeering, has referred the information about Presser's questionable theater investment to the Justice Department for possible criminal action.
David Margolis, who as chief of the department's organized crime and racketeering section rejected a federal strike force recommendation in July that Presser be indicted on separate labor fraud charges, declined comment.
Duke Zeller, Presser's spokesman at Teamster headquarters here, did not respond to calls.
The violence, allegedly endorsed by Presser, took place in Romulus, Mich., at an October 1983 convention of Teamsters for a Democratic Union (TDU), a dissident group critical of the union's leadership.
The Brotherhood of Loyal Americans and Strong Teamsters (BLAST), set up to oppose the dissidents, took over the podium, tore down banners and ran TDU members out of the hall, according to the panel's draft report.
The commission said records of the National Labor Relations Board indicate that participants in the BLAST raid included the presidents of two Teamster locals, a local vice president, two secretary-treasurers, three union trustees, one organizer and at least 10 business agents for the international union.
At a meeting two weeks later of Teamsters Joint Council 41 in Cleveland, Presser praised the union officials who led the raid, according to a transcript of his remarks subpoenaed by the panel.
"I know all about that BLAST program taking place in Michigan," Presser told the joint council. ". . . We should be doing more of that. I'm going to tell you, I'm not going to let up on these people."
Presser's Cleveland investment involved the Front Row Theatre, in which Presser invested "a nominal sum" in 1974, two months before he began a one-year term as a trustee of the Teamsters' Central States Pension Fund, according to the commission.
The staff report traced the theater's subsequent sale by Presser and his fellow investors and then its sale back to the original owners minus Presser. The commission subpoenaed documents from an institution that provided a loan to the theater, the theater's accounting company and the company that purchased and then sold back the theater, according to the report.
It said the documents, together with Presser's statement in the October 1980 issue of Cleveland Magazine that the theater investment had made him a millionaire raise questions about whether the theater was "used as a vehicle to provide approximately $1 million to Presser for unspecified favors."
In a related development, Thomas McBride, one of the commission's 19 members, said the draft report's conclusion that the federal government's drive against labor racketeering is "fragmented and ineffective" should be "moderated."
McBride, associate dean of the Stanford University Law School, said he found the assessment ironic because "virtually all of the evidence in the report is drawn from current governmental efforts." A former inspector general of the Labor Department, McBride conceded that some criticism is "justified" but praised investigative and prosecutorial work in labor regulation.
At least five other commissioners also are seeking changes in the report, commission sources said. But one commission member said a telephone poll of the 19 members found that 11 favored issuing it in its current form, while another member said that 10 were lined up solidly behind it.
And in a separate action involving Presser, two defense attorneys in the Las Vegas casino skimming trial in Kansas City charged that the government has withheld evidence on Presser's possible involvement in that case.
Attorney Frank Oliver said the Justice Department has held back "evidence of Jackie Presser's complicity . . . because of his support" for President Reagan. And defense attorney Joseph DiNatale said the Teamster boss has been the government's "white knight" and that "any time we get to Jackie Presser, we hit a blank wall."