U.S. v. Williams

Decision Date12 July 1984
Docket NumberNos. 83-1642,s. 83-1642
Citation737 F.2d 594
Parties15 Fed. R. Evid. Serv. 1296 UNITED STATES of America, Plaintiff-Appellee, v. Roy L. WILLIAMS, Thomas F. O'Malley, Andrew G. Massa, Joseph Lombardo, Defendants-Appellants. to 83-1644, 83-1660, 83-2206 to 83-2208 and 83-2229.
CourtU.S. Court of Appeals — Seventh Circuit

Frank Oliver, Northfield, Ill., Nathan Lewin, Miller, Cassidy, Larroca & Lewin, Washington, D.C., William G. Hundley, Hundley & Cacheris, Washington, D.C., for defendants-appellants.

William C. Bryson, Asst. U.S. Atty., Dan K. Webb, U.S. Atty., Chicago, Ill., for plaintiff-appellee.

Before ESCHBACH, POSNER and COFFEY, Circuit Judges.

ESCHBACH, Circuit Judge.

Roy Williams, Joseph Lombardo, Thomas O'Malley, and Andrew Massa appeal from convictions on all 11 counts of an indictment charging conspiracy to bribe a United States Senator, 18 U.S.C. Sec. 371, interstate travel to promote the bribery, 18 U.S.C. Sec. 1952, and wire fraud, 18 U.S.C. Sec. 1343. Only Lombardo attacks the sufficiency of the evidence. All defendants, however, contend that the district court erred (1) in denying a motion to suppress evidence obtained through electronic surveillance, (2) in ruling on several evidentiary matters, (3) in handling ex parte juror contacts, (4) in instructing the jury, and (5) in denying a request for a new trial. Finding no merit in these contentions, we affirm.


Many aspects of this case are extraordinary. For instance, the trial lasted nearly two months, and the jury charge an hour and a half. Moreover, the parties made over 200 written motions to the district court, which gave each motion individual attention. Amid this complexity, the government's theory of criminal culpability is strikingly clear: the defendants, Allen Dorfman, 1 and William Webbe, an unindicted co-conspirator, devised and pursued a scheme to bribe a United States Senator at the expense of the Teamsters' Central States Pension Fund. 2 Viewing the evidence in the government's favor, see Glasser v. United States, 315 U.S. 60, 80, 62 S.Ct. 457, 469, 86 L.Ed. 680 (1942), we now describe the events that support this charge and the defendants' convictions.

The Teamsters' Central States Pension Fund ("Pension Fund" or "Fund") is an organization created by and funded pursuant to collective bargaining agreements between the Teamsters Union and employers. As the name implies, the Pension Fund pays benefits to retired union members. In 1972, the Pension Fund acquired what is known as the Wonderworld property--a 5.8 acre plot of land in Las Vegas, Nevada. The Pension Fund, however, lost direct control over the management and disposition of this property in 1977, when the Victor Palmieri Company ("Palmieri") was retained to manage the Fund's real estate assets. The Pension Fund's trustees, as part of an effort to retain the Fund's tax-exempt status, relinquished managerial control to Palmieri and retained only the right to monitor Palmieri and to remedy breaches of fiduciary duties.

In 1978, when Palmieri decided to sell the Wonderworld property, nearby homeowners became concerned that a high-rise building would be constructed on the land. The homeowners thus organized and selected as their spokesman Senator Howard Cannon, whose home was across the street from the Wonderworld property. The group decided to purchase the land with a view toward having the property "down-zoned." At a homeowners' meeting, Senator Cannon offered to call Allen Dorfman to discover whether the group could buy the property directly from the Pension Fund. At the time, Allen Dorfman was not formally associated with the Fund; however, his insurance company, which had offices in the same building that housed the Pension Fund, previously insured many of the Fund's assets. Senator Cannon also suggested that his son-in-law, Robert Bjornsen, could serve as the group's agent for the Wonderworld transaction. The homeowners agreed and Bjornsen initiated contacts with Palmieri in late December of 1978.

On January 8, 1979, Palmieri invited sealed bids from parties who had expressed interest in the Wonderworld property. The bid-solicitation letter stated several conditions, including that the minimum bid was $1,400,000. Before Bjornsen submitted a bid on behalf of the homeowners, however, Senator Cannon met in his Las Vegas office with Allen Dorfman, Roy Williams, then an international vice-president of the Teamsters Union, 3 and Edward Wheeler, a lawyer who represented the Teamsters on legislative matters.

At this meeting, which occurred on January 10, 1979, Wheeler voiced the Teamsters' objections to the deregulation of the trucking industry--a nascent proposal in Congress. After he completed his presentation, Wheeler heeded Williams' request and left the Senator's office. Williams, Dorfman, and Senator Cannon continued to meet for another 25 to 45 minutes. The three men discussed the Wonderworld property and the homeowners' effort to purchase the land. Williams and Dorfman, seeking to influence Senator Cannon's actions and decisions on the deregulation legislation, offered the Senator and his group the exclusive right to purchase the Wonderworld property at a price of $1,400,000. Over the next four months, the defendants, Allen Dorfman, and Dorfman's associate William Webbe, worked to keep this promise.

Robert Bjornsen, on behalf of the homeowners, submitted to Palmieri a $1,400,000 bid on January 12, 1979. The bid, however, was rejected for failure to conform to Palmieri's requirement of full payment within one year. Palmieri also rejected a $1,600,000 bid from investor Allen Glick because he failed to submit the requisite personal-finance statement. Receiving no complying bids, Palmieri decided to pursue further negotiations with Bjornsen, the homeowners' agent, and Glick, the high bidder.

Palmieri and Glick appeared to reach an agreement. Glick orally made a new offer for $1,600,000 and agreed to raise the down payment from $400,000 to $800,000. On January 29, 1979, a Palmieri representative accepted this offer and closing documents were mailed to Glick's attorney. Before the purchase agreement was executed, however, Glick withdrew his offer.

A concerted effort by the four defendants led to Glick's withdrawal. Early in the afternoon on January 30, 1979, Joseph Lombardo, whose vocational status is something of a mystery, made a proposal to Allen Dorfman to send people from the Pension Fund to speak with Glick. In particular, Lombardo named as emissaries Thomas O'Malley, then a trustee of the Fund, and Andrew Massa, a former trustee. Roy Williams approved the trip and made an airplane available to O'Malley and Massa.

Later that same day, O'Malley and Massa did fly to California to meet with Glick. During a dinner meeting, O'Malley and Massa frankly described their intentions. They told Glick that a homeowners' group headed by Senator Cannon wanted to buy the Wonderworld property. The two men further informed Glick that there was legislation pending before a Senate committee chaired by Senator Cannon that would harm the trucking industry and that they wanted the legislation defeated. To secure Senator Cannon's appreciation, therefore, O'Malley and Massa asked Glick to withdraw his $1,600,000 offer. Glick readily agreed to withdraw the outstanding offer, but made it known that his partner, Fred Glusman, might wish to continue his own efforts to purchase the property.

The next day Glick withdrew the offer on the Wonderworld property and suggested to Glusman that he refrain from individually pursuing the land. From the conspirators' point of view, therefore, prospects appeared promising on February 9, 1979, when Bjornsen submitted another offer on behalf of the homeowners. The purchase offer was again for $1,400,000 and included a sizeable commission to be paid to Bjornsen's company. Undeterred by Glick's suggestion, however, Glusman made an offer for $1,600,000. Accordingly, the homeowners' offer was rejected and Palmieri proceeded to close the deal with Glusman.

Before the deal was completed, Glusman was again contacted by Glick who told Glusman not to "fight city hall." Evidently not prepared for such a contest, Glusman withdrew his offer on February 15, 1979. Thus by the beginning of March, the slate was clean and Palmieri resumed negotiations with Bjornsen.

By that time, however, it seemed plain that the Wonderworld property would be "down-zoned"; consequently, the homeowners' group lost interest in buying the property and disbanded. Dorfman and Webbe, determined to keep a promise made to Senator Cannon, then helped Bjornsen find a new partner for the desired purchase--Robert L. Smith, who was a Las Vegas contractor and business associate of Dorfman. Bjornsen submitted a series of three bids on behalf of "Robert L. Smith"; each was for $1,400,000 and each was rejected by Palmieri for providing an insufficient down payment. Throughout this final stage of the conspiracy, Dorfman and Williams lamented their inability to fulfill the commitment made to Senator Cannon. Yet as late as May 21, 1979, Dorfman assured the Senator that the deal was still "wide open."

On May 25, 1979, Palmieri accepted American National Development Corporation's offer to purchase the Wonderworld property for $1,600,000. On July 2, 1979, the property was sold to that corporation.

On May 22, 1981, the defendants were charged in all counts of an 11-count indictment. Count I charged the defendants with a conspiracy to bribe a United States Senator, 18 U.S.C. Sec. 371. Count II charged the defendants with causing O'Malley and Massa to travel in interstate commerce to California, with the intent to promote the bribery, 18 U.S.C. Sec. 1952. Counts III to XI charged the defendants with the use of interstate wires for the purpose of executing a scheme to defraud the...

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