In 1988, despite powerful Congressional opposition, U.S. Attorney Rudy Giuliani brought a massive civil racketeering (RICO) suit against the leaders of the behemoth International Brotherhood of Teamsters (IBT) and more than two dozen Cosa Nostra (LCN) leaders. Intending to land a fatal blow to the mafia, Giuliani asserted that the union and organized-crime defendants had formed a devil's pact. He charged the IBT leaders with allowing their organized-crime cronies to use the union as a profit center in exchange for the mobsters' political support and a share of the spoils of corruption. On the eve of what would have been one of the most explosive trials in organized- crime and labor history, the Department of Justice and the Teamsters settled. Three court-appointed officers were tasked with purging LCN influence from the IBT by investigating organized crime infiltration, bringing disciplinary charges, and supervising a new and unprecedented nationwide election process for international officers. When the insurgent Ron Carey won the 1991 presidential election, the government's reform strategy was heralded as an extraordinary success. But, like a Greek tragedy, the court officers expelled Carey from the union in 1997 on account of a campaign-finance money-laundering scheme that implicated, among many others, the National Democratic Party and the AFL-CIO. Since Carey's downfall, the Teamsters have been politically dominated by James P. Hoffa, son of the notorious Jimmy Hoffa. Breaking the Devil's Pact traces the fascinating history of U.S. v. IBT, beginning with Giuliani's controversial lawsuit and continuing with in-depth analysis of the ups and downs of an unprecedented remedial effort involving the Department of Justice, the federal courts, the court-appointed officers (including former FBI and CIA director William Webster and former U.S. attorney general Benjamin Civiletti), and the IBT itself. Now more than 22 years old and spanning over 5 election cycles, U.S. v. IBT is the most important labor case in the last half century, one of the most significant organized crime cases of all time, and one of the most ambitious judicial organizational reform efforts in U.S. history. Breaking the Devil's Pact is a penetrating examination of the potential and limits of court-supervised organizational reform in the context of systemic corruption and racketeering.
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James B. Jacobs, legal scholar and sociologist, is Warren E. Burger Professor of Law and Director, Center for Research in Crime and Justice, NYU School of Law. Among his books are Mobsters, Unions & Fed: The Mafia and the American Labor Movement, Gotham Unbound: How New York City Was Liberated from the Grip of Organized Crime, Busting the Mob: United States v. Cosa Nostra, and Corruption and Racketeering in the New York City Construction Industry, all published by NYU Press.
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