Monday, June 27, 2011

New York City & Extortion

I was researching an article about extortion laws, and I found this quite interesting quote from U.S. v. LOCAL 807 OF INTERNATIONAL BROTHERHOOD OF TEAMSTERS, CHAUFFEURS, STABLEMEN AND HELPERS OF AMERICA et al.118 F.2d 684(2nd Cir. 1941).  The question was whether the federal government could prosecute a labor union for extortion (violence and threats of violence against non-union and even non-local union truck drivers in exchange for payment).  The Supreme Court later decided in U.S. v. Teamsters, 315 U.S. 521 (1942) that no, they could not: Congress, when passing the federal extortion statute, had not intended it to be used against labor unions.  Nonetheless, the appellate court decision has this interesting section:
In conclusion we may add that a consideration of the evil at which Congress was aiming, seems to us to confirm the construction we are putting upon what it said. For a number of years before 1934 — at least 688*688 in the City of New York — the levy of blackmail upon industry, especially upon relatively small shops, had become very serious, and the local authorities either would not, or could not, check it. The courts were powerless, because the witnesses were terrorized and could not be protected if they told what they knew; the public felt themselves at the mercy of organized gangs of bandits and became much wrought up over the situation.
Gee, why in New York City?  Those who read my article about the history of the Sullivan Law can guess: organized crime and labor unions were intimately tied, and the goal of the Sullivan Law was to make sure that only the politically connected, such as the Mafia, would be armed.

No comments: