U.S. v. Sciarra, Nos. 88-5119

CourtUnited States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (3rd Circuit)
Writing for the CourtBefore HUTCHINSON, SCIRICA, and ROSENN; ROSENN
Citation851 F.2d 621
Parties128 L.R.R.M. (BNA) 2878, 57 USLW 2038, 109 Lab.Cas. P 10,584, 12 Fed.R.Serv.3d 249 UNITED STATES of America v. Michael SCIARRA and Joseph Sheridan, Petitioners, Honorable Harold A. Ackerman, Nominal Respondent. UNITED STATES of America v. LOCAL 560 OF the INTERNATIONAL BROTHERHOOD OF TEAMSTERS, CHAUFFEURS, WAREHOUSEMEN, AND HELPERS OF AMERICA, Salvatore Provenzano, President; Joseph Sheridan, Vice President; Josephine Provenzano Septembre, Secretary-Treasurer; J. W. Dildine, Recording Secretary; Thomas Reynolds, Sr., Trustee; Michael Sciarra, Trustee; Stanley Jaronko, Trustee; Trucking Employees of North Jersey Welfare Fund, Inc.; Salvatore Provenzano, Employee Trustee; Thomas Reynolds, Sr., Employee Trustee; Local 560 Officers and Employees Severance Pay Plan; Salvatore Provenzano, Trustee and Administrator; Josephine B. Septembre, Trustee and Administrator; Anthony Provenzano, Individually; Nunzio Provenzano, Individually; Stephen Andretta, Individually; Thomas Andretta, Individually; Gabriel Briguglio, Individually. Appeal of Michael SCIARRA and Joseph Sheridan, Appellants.
Decision Date25 July 1988
Docket Number88-5120,Nos. 88-5119

Page 621

851 F.2d 621
128 L.R.R.M. (BNA) 2878, 57 USLW 2038,
109 Lab.Cas. P 10,584,
12 Fed.R.Serv.3d 249
UNITED STATES of America
v.
Michael SCIARRA and Joseph Sheridan, Petitioners,
Honorable Harold A. Ackerman, Nominal Respondent.
UNITED STATES of America
v.
LOCAL 560 OF the INTERNATIONAL BROTHERHOOD OF TEAMSTERS,
CHAUFFEURS, WAREHOUSEMEN, AND HELPERS OF AMERICA, Salvatore
Provenzano, President; Joseph Sheridan, Vice President;
Josephine Provenzano Septembre, Secretary-Treasurer; J. W.
Dildine, Recording Secretary; Thomas Reynolds, Sr.,
Trustee; Michael Sciarra, Trustee; Stanley Jaronko,
Trustee; Trucking Employees of North Jersey Welfare Fund,
Inc.; Salvatore Provenzano, Employee Trustee; Thomas
Reynolds, Sr., Employee Trustee; Local 560 Officers and
Employees Severance Pay Plan; Salvatore Provenzano, Trustee
and Administrator; Josephine B. Septembre, Trustee and
Administrator; Anthony Provenzano, Individually; Nunzio
Provenzano, Individually; Stephen Andretta, Individually;
Thomas Andretta, Individually; Gabriel Briguglio, Individually.
Appeal of Michael SCIARRA and Joseph Sheridan, Appellants.
Nos. 88-5119, 88-5120.
United States Court of Appeals,
Third Circuit.
Argued April 15, 1988.
Decided June 27, 1988.
Rehearing and Rehearing In Banc Denied July 25, 1988.

Page 622

Harvey Weissbard (argued), Weissbard & Wiewiorka, Alan L. Zegas (argued), West Orange, N.J., for petitioners.

Samuel A. Alito, Jr., U.S. Atty., Jerome L. Merin (argued), Asst. U.S. Atty., Robert C. Stewart, Sp. Atty. in Charge, U.S. Dept. of Justice, Newark, N.J., for respondent.

Sidney Reitman, Bennet D. Zurofsky (argued), Reitman, Parsonnet, Maisel & Duggan, Newark, N.J., for Local 560, et al.

Before HUTCHINSON, SCIRICA, and ROSENN, Circuit Judges.

OPINION OF THE COURT

ROSENN, Circuit Judge.

This complex appeal presents several novel questions arising out of a federal district court's continuing efforts to purge Local 560 of the International Brotherhood of Teamsters of a twenty-five year history of corruption and indignity. On December 17, 1987, the United States sought an order from Judge Harold A. Ackerman of the United States District Court for the District of New Jersey compelling the petitioners, Michael Sciarra and Joseph Sheridan, to give testimony by oral examination.

Page 623

The petitioners thereafter filed a cross-motion demanding Judge Ackerman's recusal pursuant to 28 U.S.C. Sec. 455. By order dated February 8, 1988, the district court granted the Government's application, and denied petitioners' cross-motion. Sheridan and Sciarra now appeal. We affirm the district court's order compelling the petitioners to submit to oral depositions. We additionally vacate the district court's denial of petitioners' cross-motion and dismiss their appeal without prejudice.

I.

We begin our disposition of the present appeal with an excursion into the history of its controversial antecedents. On March 9, 1982, the Government filed a civil complaint against Local 560 and twelve individual defendants alleging violations of the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO), 18 U.S.C. Secs. 1961 et seq. 1 See United States v. Local 560, International Brotherhood of Teamsters, Chauffeurs, Warehousemen, and Helpers of America, et al., 581 F.Supp. 279 (D.N.J.1984). Among the named individual defendants were the petitioners who, at the time of suit, were members of Local 560's executive board. After a fifty-one day bench trial, the district court held that members of the Provenzano crime family, aided and abetted by Local 560's executive board, acquired an interest in and control of the union through a pattern of racketeering activity in contravention of 18 U.S.C. Sec. 1962(b), (c) and (d).

Relying upon the expansive provisions of 18 U.S.C. Sec. 1964, the district court proceeded to fashion an equitable remedy unprecedented in scope and in imagination. See id. at 337-38. Recognizing the likelihood of future RICO violations, the court enjoined Provenzano group defendants Stephen Andretta and Gabriel Briguglio from any subsequent affiliation with Local 560. 2 It additionally directed the removal of the Local's entire executive board in favor of a trusteeship designed to "foster the conditions under which reasonably free supervised elections can be held...." 3 Id. at 337. Upon the completion of free elections, the trusteeship was to be dissolved. 4 Id. To further effectuate its remedy, the court retained jurisdiction over Local 560 as a nominal defendant. Id. The Local's Welfare Fund and Severance Pay Plan were, however, explicitly dismissed from the action. Finally, the court stayed the implementation of its injunctive relief pending appeal.

On December 12, 1985, we affirmed the district court's opinion in its entirety, United States v. Local 560, 780 F.2d 267 (3d Cir.1985), and subsequently denied petitioners' applications for panel rehearing and for rehearing in banc. 5 Thus, on June 23, 1986, some two years after the issuance of its final judgment, the district court vacated the stay and appointed Joel R. Jacobson trustee. As a result, Sciarra relinquished his position as executive board president, an appointment he had held since October 29, 1984. Sheridan correspondingly resigned the board's vice-presidency.

In the succeeding months, the trustee acted in conformity with the district court's 1984 judgment: Peter DeCarlo was permanently enjoined from entering Local 560's premises, and Teamster Joint Council 73 was compelled to recognize the trusteeship as the functional equivalent of the Local's

Page 624

former executive board. On May 12, 1987, however, the court replaced Jacobson with Edwin Steir. 6

On December 17, 1987, the Government, relying upon 18 U.S.C. Sec. 1964, 28 U.S.C. Sec. 1651, and upon the 1984 judgment, applied to Judge Ackerman for an order directing Sciarra, Sheridan, and former defendant Stanley Jaronko to show cause why they should not be compelled to submit to oral depositions at the Newark, New Jersey offices of the United States Attorney. Specifically, the Government sought information regarding Local 560's operations during the two year stay period, including Sciarra's role in the de-unionization of New England Motor Freight Company, his post-1984 communications with Stephen Andretta and Matthew Ianniello concerning the continued influence of the Provenzano group on Local 560, his employment of the DiBiasi law firm 7 to manage Local 560's Prepaid Legal Services Plan, and his failure to institute safeguards against corrupt union practices during his two year term as president of the executive board. The Government additionally intended to depose Sheridan regarding his participation in Sciarra's appointment as president, and his failure, as vice-president of the executive board, to institute safeguards against abuses by employers and by employee representatives. The Government concluded its application by acknowledging that the petitioners' testimony might indeed form the predicate "for additional relief ... necessary in order to prevent future racketeering violations involving the continued domination ... and exploitation ... of Local 560."

In response to the Government's discovery request, the petitioners filed a cross-motion seeking Judge Ackerman's disqualification pursuant to 28 U.S.C. Sec. 455(a) and (b)(1). Sheridan and Sciarra predicated their motion, in part, upon an affidavit submitted by Joel Jacobson which averred 8 that during the winter of 1986-1987, Judge Ackerman directed the former trustee to terminate two members of Local 560's Pension and Welfare Funds. When Jacobson expressed reluctance, the judge allegedly replied: "Joel, when it comes to members of Local 560, they're guilty until proven innocent." Jacobson added that Judge Ackerman repeated the phrase at a second meeting several days later. Jacobson's affidavit concluded by asserting that his discharge was based upon his "refusal to support [Judge Ackerman's] abandonment of the presumption of innocence for the officers and members of Local 560." 9

Petitioners additionally relied upon statements made by Judge Ackerman to several newspapers. In the October 8, 1987, edition of the "Bergen Record," Jacobson asserted that Judge Ackerman had directed him "to go get something on [Sciarra]." Moreover, an article appearing in the "Wall Street Journal" on February 10, 1987, quoted the judge as stating that:

Elements of the old regime are plotting to regain power. They're there, I know it.... It's like squeezing water out of a wash rag.... There's still a lot of dirty water in that rag....

Finally, Sheridan and Sciarra based their motion upon a recent nationally televised CBS "60 Minutes" broadcast in which Judge Ackerman made extensive comments regarding the Local 560 litigation. For example, the judge asserted that:

Mikey Sciarra testified that he was praying for the return of Tony Pro Provenzano. Can you imagine? Here's a man who's president of a local union who knows that another individual, Anthony

Page 625

Provenzano, killed a fellow member of the union--had him strangled--was convicted of that charge--stands convicted today of an extortion--yet he's praying that Provenzano should return? What does it say for his character? ... You had a police state in effect here in which democracy in this local union was just--uh--non-existent. They'd like to have an election which is similar to that conducted in the Soviet Union today--one candidate, that's it.

In addition to alleging grounds for recusal based upon the appearance of partiality, 10 the petitioners contended that Judge Ackerman had "personal knowledge of disputed evidentiary facts" in violation of Sec. 455(b)(1), and was related to a potential material witness in violation of Sec. 455(b)(5)(iv). Specifically, Sheridan and Sciarra contended that the judge had extrajudicial knowledge of Local 560's Prepaid Legal Services Plan, and that he was related to Gerald...

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49 practice notes
  • United States v. Washington, No. 16-2795
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (3rd Circuit)
    • August 28, 2017
    ...476 F.2d 733, 739 (3d Cir. 1973) (referring to criminal discovery rulings under Fed. R. Crim. P. 16 ).123 See United States v. Sciarra, 851 F.2d 621, 627–28 (3d Cir. 1988).124 We do not reach the question of the geographical boundaries of the initial evidence the defendant must provide—whet......
  • In re Lieb, Bankruptcy No. 89-51344-C
    • United States
    • United States Bankruptcy Courts. Fifth Circuit. U.S. Bankruptcy Court — Western District of Texas
    • February 1, 1990
    ...n. 16 (11th Cir.1988), cert. denied, ___ U.S. ___, 109 S.Ct. 2066, 104 L.Ed.2d 631 (1989) (citing Phillips); United States v. Sciarra, 851 F.2d 621, 625 n. 12 (3d Cir.1988) ("there is considerable authority for the proposition that the factual accuracy of affidavits submitted pursuant to 28......
  • Keystone Ins. Co. v. Houghton, No. 88-1405
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (3rd Circuit)
    • December 15, 1988
    ...this expansive congressional language to construe liberally RICO provisions as well as RICO as a whole. See United States v. Sciarra, 851 F.2d 621, 633 (3d Cir.1988); United States v. Local 560 of Intern. Broth., 780 F.2d 267, 295 (3d Cir.1985), cert. denied, 476 U.S. 1140, 106 S.Ct. 2247, ......
  • Grayson v. At & T Corp.., Nos. 07–CV–1264
    • United States
    • District of Columbia Court of Appeals of Columbia District
    • January 20, 2011
    ...decide the merits of the dispute or of particular issues.”) (internal quotation marks and citation omitted); United States v. Sciarra, 851 F.2d 621, 633 (3d Cir.1988); Green v. City of Raleigh, 523 F.3d 293, 299 (4th Cir.2008) (“[A] plaintiff's standing to bring a case does not depend upon ......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
49 cases
  • United States v. Washington, No. 16-2795
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (3rd Circuit)
    • August 28, 2017
    ...476 F.2d 733, 739 (3d Cir. 1973) (referring to criminal discovery rulings under Fed. R. Crim. P. 16 ).123 See United States v. Sciarra, 851 F.2d 621, 627–28 (3d Cir. 1988).124 We do not reach the question of the geographical boundaries of the initial evidence the defendant must provide—whet......
  • In re Lieb, Bankruptcy No. 89-51344-C
    • United States
    • United States Bankruptcy Courts. Fifth Circuit. U.S. Bankruptcy Court — Western District of Texas
    • February 1, 1990
    ...n. 16 (11th Cir.1988), cert. denied, ___ U.S. ___, 109 S.Ct. 2066, 104 L.Ed.2d 631 (1989) (citing Phillips); United States v. Sciarra, 851 F.2d 621, 625 n. 12 (3d Cir.1988) ("there is considerable authority for the proposition that the factual accuracy of affidavits submitted pursuant to 28......
  • Keystone Ins. Co. v. Houghton, No. 88-1405
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (3rd Circuit)
    • December 15, 1988
    ...this expansive congressional language to construe liberally RICO provisions as well as RICO as a whole. See United States v. Sciarra, 851 F.2d 621, 633 (3d Cir.1988); United States v. Local 560 of Intern. Broth., 780 F.2d 267, 295 (3d Cir.1985), cert. denied, 476 U.S. 1140, 106 S.Ct. 2247, ......
  • Grayson v. At & T Corp.., Nos. 07–CV–1264
    • United States
    • District of Columbia Court of Appeals of Columbia District
    • January 20, 2011
    ...decide the merits of the dispute or of particular issues.”) (internal quotation marks and citation omitted); United States v. Sciarra, 851 F.2d 621, 633 (3d Cir.1988); Green v. City of Raleigh, 523 F.3d 293, 299 (4th Cir.2008) (“[A] plaintiff's standing to bring a case does not depend upon ......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

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