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United States v. Lanni

August 14, 1972

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, APPELLEE
v.
LOUIS LANNI, SR. ET AL., APPELLANTS.



Author: Rosen

Before GIBBONS, ROSEN and HUNTER III, Circuit Judges.

ROSEN, J.: Growing concern with corruption between management and labor representatives prompted Congress to enact Section 302 of the Taft-Hartley Act, 29 U.S.C. § 141 (1947). Initially, as passed by the House of Representatives, the bill "made it an unfair labor practice to give favors to 'any person in a position of trust in a labor organization * * * H.R. 3020, 80th Cong., 1st Sess., § 8(a)(2). The scope of this bill was enlarged when it reached the Senate to include, in the words of Senator Taft, a 'case where the union representative is shaking down the employer * * *' 93 Cong. Rec. 4746." The resulting bill "outlaw ed all payments, with stated exceptions, between employer and representative." imposing criminal liability on both the employee representatives and those members of management who indulged in the forbidden transactions. United States v. Ryan, 350 U.S. 299, 305-6, 100 L. Ed. 335, 76 S. Ct. 400 (1956).*fn1

The Taft-Hartley Bill did not succeed in stamping out the corruption problem, however. Many of those dishonest enough to betray the employees' interests prior to the legislation were devious enough to avoid the reach of the Taft-Hartley Act. "Widespread public concern" with "racketeering, crime, and corruption"*fn2 continued; and the Eighty-Sixth Congress responded by enacting the Labor Management Act of 1959. By so doing, Congress hoped to "close loopholes" which "both employer representatives and union officials had turned to advantage at the expense of employees."*fn3 The bill was intended to make certain that employer representatives, like other trustees, would not profit from their positions of trust:

For centuries the law has forbidden any person in a position of trust to hold interests or enter into transactions in which self-interest may conflict with complete loyalty to those whom they serve. Such a person may not deal with himself, or acquire adverse interests, or make any personal profit as a result of his position. The same principle has long been applied to trustees, to agents, and to bank directors. It is equally applicable to union officers and employees. The ethical practices code of the American Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrial Organizations states -

It is too plain for extended discussion that a basic ethical principle in the conduct of union affairs is that no responsible trade union official should have a personal financial interest which conflicts with the full performance of his fiduciary duties as a workers' representative.

After the McClellan committee hearings no one can dispute the simple fact that although the vast majority of union officials are honest and conscientious men, a small number have ignored this basic standard of conduct. No one would deny that the conduct is wrong. The wrongs should not be ignored by the Federal Government. The national labor policy is founded upon collective bargaining through strong and vigorous unions. Playing both sides of the street, using union office for personal financial advantage, undercover deals, and other conflicts of interest corrupt, and thereby undermine and weaken the labor movement. The Congress should check the abuses in order to foster the national labor policy. The Government which vests in labor unions the power to act as exclusive bargaining representative must make sure that the power is used for the benefit of workers and not for personal profit.*fn4

The part of that Act which is of particular concern to us in this case is Section 302(a)(1) and (4) and (b), 29 U.S.C. 186(a)(1) and (4) and 186(b). Subsection (a) proscribes payments by employers "to any representative of any of his employees * * *" or to "any officer * * * of a labor organization * * * with intent to influence him in respect to any of his actions, decisions, or duties as a representative." Subsection (b) imposes a parallel prohibition on those who might receive such funds, and makes it "unlawful for any person to * * * receive or accept * * * any payment, loan or delivery of any money or other thing of value prohibited by section (a)."*fn5 Since (b) incorporates (a)'s prohibitions, it forbids any employee representative to accept money from any employer or to accept any payment made with the intent to influence his behavior as a representative.

The 1959 amendments:

remove any doubt that all forms of bribery which might escape the provision of the then existing law would be prohibited under pain of criminal penalties. * * * The intent of these amendments to sections 302(a) and (b) is to forbid any payment or bribe by an employer of anyone who acts in the interest of an employer whether technically an agent or not and to forbid the receipt of any such bribe by any person, whether an individual, an officer or employee of a labor organization or a committee representing employees. Payment to and receipt of such payments by any union officer or employee having the intent of influencing such officer or employee in respect to any of his actions, decisions, or duties as a representative of employees or as such union officer or employee would also be made a criminal offense.*fn6

With these basic principles in mind, we can proceed to the case at hand. The appellant Louis Lanni, Sr., was convicted under amended § 302(b), 29 U.S.C. § 186(b), for receiving and accepting $16,300. from D'Agata National Trucking Company (D'Agata Trucking) while he was Secretary-Treasurer of Teamsters' Local No. 830 and while that local represented D'Agata Trucking's employees. Both Lanni and appellant Mary Maiale were convicted of a separate count of conspiring to obtain and receive the money.*fn7 18 U.S.C. 371. Lanni was sentenced to eight months imprisonment and put on probation for the year following his release. He was also fined $5000. Maiale was fined $2500, and sentenced to one year probation.

On this appeal three issues are presented for review: (1) did the court below err in construing 29 U.S.C. § 186(b); (2) is that statute unconstitutionally vague, and (3) did the court err in refusing defendants' requested instructions on willfulness.

The facts leading to the appellants' convictions are admirably set forth in the thorough opinion of Judge Becker.*fn8 The appellants, who did not testify, do not challenge his findings and we see no reason to reiterate them in detail. Instead, we limit ourselves to recounting only the most critical facts and to setting forth the legitimate inferences which the jury could reasonably have drawn from them. United States v. Hamilton, 457 F.2d 95, 99 (3d Cir. 1972), United States v. Moraites, 456 F.2d 435 (3d Cir. 1972).

The evidence established that Mary Maiale reveived $16,300. from D'Agata Trucking, ostensibly for her work as a bookkeeper.*fn9 Maiale was, however, a full time bookkeeper for the Health and Welfare Fund of Lanni's Local 830 and "never performed any bookkeeping * * * or any other services" for D'Agata Trucking.*fn10 At the time she was receiving these payments, Lanni had full knowledge that she was not performing any services in exchange for her "salary." This is not surprising as Maiale was Lanni's "girlfriend,"*fn11 and shared a Miami Beach condominium apartment with him. The down payment check on that apartment was drawn on the account where Maiale deposited her "salary" checks. Nonetheless, Lanni openly referred to the apartment as "my place."*fn12

The appellants "had other business dealings and * * * in them Maiale was a 'straw man' for Lanni."*fn13 When Lanni and two partners established a truck leasing company, Lanni chose to place his interest in Maiale's name. Similarly, when Lanni contemplated entering the realty field, his plan called for Maiale's holding his interest, but in name only. Together, these transactions gave ...


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