A convicted Cleveland mobster close to Teamsters President Jackie Presser traveled to New York in 1984 to talk about transferring "effective control" of the union to the Genovese crime family, a government prosecutor charged here today.
The allegation came at a posttrial bail hearing for Milton J. (Maishe) Rockman, reputed financier of the Cleveland branch of the Mafia and its liaison with the Teamsters union. He was convicted earlier this week with four reputed Mafia leaders from Chicago of having conspired to skim almost $2 million from a string of Teamster-financed casinos in Las Vegas since 1974.
Rockman's request to be released on bond pending sentencing was rejected by U.S. District Judge Joseph E. Stevens.
The head of the Government's Organized Crime Strike Force here, David B. Helfrey, said that Rockman, 73, should be denied appeal bond for a variety of reasons, including Rockman's 1982 purchase of a .380 Baretta and his reported attempt in 1984 to "obtain a silencer" for the weapon.
Imprisoned at Leavenworth since Tuesday, Rockman listened impassively as Helfrey went on to accuse him of a series of unauthorized meetings with convicted felons since his indictment in the fall of 1983.
Freed on $200,000 bond pending trial, Rockman, Helfrey charged, was explicitly forbidden to "knowingly associate" with any convicted felon, but nonetheless had repeated meetings in 1984 and 1985 with Anthony (Fat Tony) Salerno, reputed acting boss of the Genovese family in New York, and with John P. (Peanuts) Tronolone, acting boss of the Cleveland family, who was staying in the Miami area.
FBI agents took surveillance photos of some of the meetings and observed the others, according to affidavits submitted to U.S. District Judge Joseph Stevens.
Helfrey asserted that the meetings with Salerno and Tronolone, both convicted felons, were plain violations of the conditions of Rockman's $200,000 trial bond and clear signs of "criminal activity."
According to trial testimony, Rockman helped persuade two of his codefendants, Chicago Mafia boss Joey Aiuppa and underboss Jackie Cerone, to support the election of Roy Lee Williams of Kansas City as Teamsters president in 1981 and then of Presser in 1983, after Williams had been convicted of conspiring to bribe a U.S. senator.
In fact, Rockman's brother-in-law, Angelo Lonardo, former underboss of the Cleveland Mafia, said Rockman once boasted that "I can handle" Presser. Lonardo also testified that the Cleveland branch of the Mafia is controlled by Salerno and Aovese family in New York.
Helfrey said the meetings with Salerno and Tronolone "suggest strongly" that they talked about "transfer of effective control of the Teamsters Union," that it "be taken away from Mr. Aiuppa and given to Mr. Salerno."
Aiuppa, described in FBI affidavits as the Mafia kingpin of Chicago and all points West, was said at the trial to have had the power to demand a share of skim money from the Teamster-financed casinos just for serving as arbiter of disputes between the Milwaukee and Kansas City branches of the Mafia about the cash.
The 78-year-old Aiuppa, who is awaiting a bail hearing Monday, was also said by Lonardo to have relucantly supported Presser's 1983 election on the strength of assurances from Rockman that "Cleveland controlled Jackie Presser."
*Asked about Helfrey's charges, Rockman's lawyer, Alan Caplan, said, "my guess is that that's another government fantasy."
Judge Stevens said Rockman's claims of not having known that Salerno and Tronolone were convicted felons were "incredible."
The judge said another reason for his decision was the 1983 murder in a Chicago parking lot of of mob associate Allen Dorfman, who had just been convicted of manipulating the Teamsters Central States Pension Fund to bribe a U.S. senator.. "I don't want that to happen to Milton Rockman -- in a parking lot in Kansas City or Cleveland or anywhere else," Stevens said.