7/31/07

Teamster boss lied about criminal association

A top Pennsylvania Teamsters official could lose jobs paying him more than $188,000 a year if he loses in a pending ruling by a Teamsters' panel on charges he lied to the federal board that oversees the union.

Francis J. "Frank" Gillen is president of the 92,000-member Pennsylvania Conference of Teamsters and of Philadelphia-based Teamsters Joint Council 53 and Teamsters Local 500. He is awaiting the decision by a union panel following a hearing on July 11 into the charge by the Independent Review Board, said Richard Murray, a special investigator for the board.

The Teamsters will not make a public comment on any decision until it is referred back to the Independent Review Board for its consideration, said Galen Munroe, a Teamsters International spokesman in Washington, D.C., on Monday. Gillen could not be reached for comment at his offices in Harrisburg or Philadelphia.

The Teamsters union is expected to release the decision soon because the union was given 90 days from the board's April 26 recommendation to issue a ruling, Murray said. The board could agree with the union's recommendation, Murray said, or ask for a new hearing, which could prompt a union appeal.

The review board accused Gillen of lying on Feb. 1, when he said he had not associated with Thomas Ryan, a former Teamster local president in Philadelphia barred in 1996 for misusing union funds and then banned from union activities.

Ryan, however, said in depositions in a lawsuit seeking reinstatement to the union that he had numerous contacts with Gillen since being suspended, Murray said. Gillen also is accused of failing to cooperate with the review board.

The three-member review board, set up by a federal court order in 1996, reviews allegations of union corruption or organized crime influence, then recommends actions.

Union financial reports for 2006 show Gillen was paid $112,293 for his local union office, $38,575 for the joint council position, and $38,036 for the state office, which also covers unions in Delaware, New Jersey and West Virginia. Teamsters International union in Washington did not report any payment for his vice president's job in 2006.

(pittsburghlive.com)

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