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Top Teamsters official indicted

Wednesday, Jul 12, 2017

* Click here to read the indictment. Here’s the US Attorney’s office press release

A high-ranking official in a Chicago-area labor union threatened a local business with economic loss if it didn’t pay him quarterly cash payments of $25,000, according to a federal indictment returned today.

JOHN T. COLI SR. used the threat of economic harm to extort quarterly payments of $25,000 from a local company, according to the indictment. The attempted extortion occurred from approximately October 2016 to April 2017, while Coli served as President of Teamsters Joint Council 25, a labor organization that represents more than 100,000 workers in the Chicago area and northwest Indiana. The organization has approximately 26 local union affiliates, including Teamsters Local Union 727, where Coli also served as Secretary-Treasurer during the time period referenced in the indictment.

The indictment was returned today in U.S. District Court in Chicago. It charges Coli, 57, of Chicago, with one count of attempted extortion and five counts of demanding and accepting a prohibited payment as a union official. The indictment seeks forfeiture from Coli of at least $100,000.

Arraignment in federal court in Chicago will be held at a future time to be set by the Court.
The indictment was announced by Joel R. Levin, Acting United States Attorney for the Northern District of Illinois; Michael J. Anderson, Special Agent-in-Charge of the Chicago office of the Federal Bureau of Investigation; and James Vanderberg, Special Agent-in-Charge of the U.S. Department of Labor’s Office of Inspector General in Chicago.

According to the charges, Coli accepted a $25,000 cash payment on July 7, 2016; two cash payments totaling $25,000 on Oct. 4, 2016, and Nov. 29, 2016; and $25,000 cash payments on Dec. 22, 2016, and April 4, 2017. The indictment does not identify the individual who made the payments nor the company Coli allegedly extorted.

Coli previously served as International Vice President of the Central Region of the International Brotherhood of Teamsters, the indictment states.

The public is reminded that an indictment is not evidence of guilt. The defendant is presumed innocent and entitled to a fair trial at which the government has the burden of proving guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.

Attempted extortion is punishable by a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison. Each count of demanding and accepting a prohibited payment is punishable by up to five years in prison. If convicted, the Court must impose a reasonable sentence under federal statutes and the advisory U.S. Sentencing Guidelines.

The government is represented by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Amarjeet S. Bhachu and Abigail Peluso.

- Posted by Rich Miller        

  1. - Gruntled University Employee - Wednesday, Jul 12, 17 @ 1:59 pm:

    Geez, how’s a guy supposed to get ahead these days if he can’t shake down a business or two? /s

  2. - Honeybear - Wednesday, Jul 12, 17 @ 2:02 pm:

    Wait is this the Coli that is on the ILRB?

  3. - Just in case your are wondering... - Wednesday, Jul 12, 17 @ 2:02 pm:

    This would never happen if we had right to work.

  4. - Honeybear - Wednesday, Jul 12, 17 @ 2:04 pm:

    Is this kinda thing the way IDOT Teamsters got 4 million dollars worth of bonus last year from the Rauner administration with Coli serving on the ILRB?

  5. - Frank Sobotka - Wednesday, Jul 12, 17 @ 2:12 pm:

    We used to make things in this country. Now we just stick our hand in the next guy’s pocket.

  6. - allknowingmasterofracoondom - Wednesday, Jul 12, 17 @ 2:12 pm:

    Wow wow wow. What a black eye to the teamsters. One bad egg….

  7. - Reality Check - Wednesday, Jul 12, 17 @ 2:13 pm:

    Both this guy and his brother are Rauner appointees, John T. Coli to the Illinois Labor Advisory Board and his brother Michael G. Coli to the state panel of the Illinois Labor Relations Board.

  8. - Henry Francis - Wednesday, Jul 12, 17 @ 2:13 pm:

    So if you mention extortion again I’ll have your legs broken.

  9. - Foster brooks - Wednesday, Jul 12, 17 @ 2:14 pm:

    I guess we wont get free insurance next contract

  10. - Oswego Willy - Wednesday, Jul 12, 17 @ 2:14 pm:

    This is an old school shakedown, and so old school it seems that connecting the dots seemed elementary.

    Is it really worth all “this” for the cost of a luxury car?

  11. - Alternative Logic - Wednesday, Jul 12, 17 @ 2:18 pm:

    His poor father, Eco James Coli, must be turning in his grave:

  12. - Curl of the Burl - Wednesday, Jul 12, 17 @ 2:19 pm:

    Frank - nice “Wire” reference. :)

  13. - CrazyHorse - Wednesday, Jul 12, 17 @ 2:20 pm:

    Was going to compare him to E. Coli but it looks like E. Coli is much easier to deal with.

  14. - Saluki - Wednesday, Jul 12, 17 @ 2:20 pm:

    $25,000 was usually Rod’s asking price also. What’s so magical about that number? Is there no inflation in the shakedown racket?

  15. - City Zen - Wednesday, Jul 12, 17 @ 2:21 pm:

    According to the DOL, there are 3 Coli’s in Teamsters Local 727. Junior is the President/Business Manager. Did he know what pops was up to?

    In addition to getting a hefty paycheck from Local 727, it looks like John Coli is also employed as INTL VP/TRADE DIV DIR at Teamsters HQ in DC. His overall union earnings are well north of $300K.

  16. - wordslinger - Wednesday, Jul 12, 17 @ 2:25 pm:

    So, I guess Rauner won’t be trotting out Coli anymore when he wants to do his “I don’t hate unions” bit.

    Shakedown artist, bustout artist, it’s common that artists with similar styles should become friends.

  17. - Curl of the Burl - Wednesday, Jul 12, 17 @ 2:30 pm:

    Saluki - good question.

    “I demand $27,250.”

    “Why not $25,000?”

    “You know…inflation…”

  18. - Honeybear - Wednesday, Jul 12, 17 @ 2:35 pm:

    Good one Curl
    Teamster COLA

  19. - pskila - Wednesday, Jul 12, 17 @ 2:37 pm:

    yikes…the fix was always in…needs to tidy bowl to clean this toilet in Springfield…smh..

  20. - Bogey Golfer - Wednesday, Jul 12, 17 @ 2:43 pm:

    The Trib reported that in 2003 he was named by then-Gov Blago to the Tollway Board, but somehow his $100K donation looks a little suspicious.

  21. - VanillaMan - Wednesday, Jul 12, 17 @ 2:46 pm:

    Did he by the luxury car that came with the “used computer parts” from GTCR?

  22. - Ahem! - Wednesday, Jul 12, 17 @ 2:49 pm:

    Mister Coli seemed to be an equal opportunity political contributor. He seemed to be willing to donate to both Democrats and Republicans. He also sent checks to Pat Quinn and Nancy Kazak.

  23. - Moody's Blues - Wednesday, Jul 12, 17 @ 2:52 pm:

    Oh, my. “Active in politics,” you say. Cribbing from current Tribune story:

    The Coli family has been active in politics for years and is well-known as big-time political boosters, including of Mayor Rahm Emanuel. Coli served on Emanuel’s inauguration committee in 2011 after the Teamsters donated $25,000 to his first mayoral campaign, the Chicago Tribune previously reported.

    The family has also been dogged by controversy. In 2003, then-Gov. Rod Blagojevich appointed Coli to the tollway board. Coli quickly withdrew his name, however, amid questions about $100,000 in Teamster campaign contributions to Blagojevich and a potential conflict with union workers at the tollway.

    But within a few months, Blagojevich quietly named Coli to two other state boards with less direct impact on Teamsters affairs, the Tribune reported. Coli received a $15,000-a-year part-time job with the Illinois Department of Employment Security in December 2003 and was named in early 2004 to the Illinois State Board of Investment.

    In 2005, the Tribune reported the FBI was investigating whether the Coli-led Teamsters siphoned hundreds of thousands of dollars from a union benefit plan that provided dental care to Chicago-area undertakers and valets. That probe had been sparked by an internal union report raising concerns about payments from the plan “to persons and entities…having ties to organized crime figures, been implicated in racketeering schemes, or both.”

    No charges were ever filed, however.

    In 2010, Coli’s union contributed $75,000 to then-Gov. Pat Quinn’s campaign fund just a month before the governor helped rewrite legislation to assist the Teamsters at McCormick Place.

  24. - Ghost - Wednesday, Jul 12, 17 @ 3:03 pm:

    Arent the Teamsters the union Rauner holds out as an example of reaching agreements?

    Huh…. wonder what Rauner paid to reach the agreement….

  25. - Reality Check - Wednesday, Jul 12, 17 @ 3:04 pm:

    Looking forward to the Trib reporting that Coli and his brother are Rauner appointees.

  26. - Anonymous - Wednesday, Jul 12, 17 @ 3:08 pm:

    Colin was a big opponent to the sweetened beverage tax.

  27. - so... - Wednesday, Jul 12, 17 @ 3:13 pm:

    ==Looking forward to the Trib reporting that Coli and his brother are Rauner appointees.==

    Big Rahm allies too. But Rauner’s the focus of all evil for you so let’s stick with that.

  28. - sidebyside - Wednesday, Jul 12, 17 @ 3:18 pm:

    Coli seemed to be very cozy with Rauner and other republican operatives.

  29. - Responsa - Wednesday, Jul 12, 17 @ 3:20 pm:

    So very helpful to the union cause and Teamsters reputation, Mr. Coli. Your union brothers and sisters must be so proud.

  30. - cdog - Wednesday, Jul 12, 17 @ 3:25 pm:

    Interesting move while the DA’s office is transitioning between administrations.

    Could be the tip of the iceberg if the previous administration didn’t want to prosecute these type of cases, and now wants to do a little cleanup operation. (They have increased arrests in some areas over previous admin.)

    Some how, unions have enough cash lying around to make an offer for the SunTimes.

    Weird happenings, today.

  31. - Robert the 1st - Wednesday, Jul 12, 17 @ 3:28 pm:

    It is simply a pietistic gesture of the privileged to not shake down business.

    So I guess those who need to utilize the shakedown are lesser?

    Are only the leasure/privileged class allowed to be union officials?

    Talk about implicit class warfare.

    But that’s what unions are these days

    Privileged and leisurely

  32. - Chicago 20 - Wednesday, Jul 12, 17 @ 3:35 pm:

    Something doesn’t seem right about this.

    Maybe I watched too many movies but if you’re shaking down a company, do you really take a series of checks?
    Then do you really want checks that are way over the $10,000 Federally required reporting level?

    Somehow I always thought it was cash in the envelopes thing.

    Why aren’t they naming the companies involved?

  33. - Keyrock - Wednesday, Jul 12, 17 @ 3:39 pm:

    Cdog- that’s silly talk. Zach Fardon and his interim replacement, Joel Levin, are both longtime prosecutors with no partisan political bent. The AUSA on the case, Bhachu, has been prosecuting organized crime cases for at least a decade.

    This case was very likely indicted when it was ready.

  34. - Slippin' Jimmy - Wednesday, Jul 12, 17 @ 3:44 pm:

    With all the ‘influence’ he’s probably on a state pension.

  35. - Anonymous - Wednesday, Jul 12, 17 @ 3:47 pm:

    “Forget it Jake, it’s Chinatown.”

  36. - The wheel - Wednesday, Jul 12, 17 @ 3:47 pm:

    The republican lobbyist Frank Cortese, was the lobbyist for the teamsters.

  37. - wordslinger - Wednesday, Jul 12, 17 @ 3:51 pm:

    CDog, definitely some weird things going on in your world today.

    How many moons does it have, anyway?

    Watch out for that tip of the iceberg as you float down the stream of consciousness.

  38. - Reality Check - Wednesday, Jul 12, 17 @ 3:51 pm:

    @so…, the Trib story notes Coli’s other political ties. It’s curiously silent on the fact that he and his brother are Rauner appointees. Thus my posts.

    Or did you comment without reading?

  39. - Anonymous - Wednesday, Jul 12, 17 @ 3:57 pm:

    This is the same Teamster Union that represents the M/Sgt’s of the State Police. I bet those folks are proud.

  40. - Texas Red - Wednesday, Jul 12, 17 @ 3:58 pm:

    Coli just wanted the unnamed individual who made the payment to ““gave ’til it hurt”

  41. - Guess Again - Wednesday, Jul 12, 17 @ 4:02 pm:

    This is the same Teamster “leader” that sold out his members and signed Rauner’s sell-out contract only to be appointed by Rauner to a board position shortly thereafter. Lock him up.

  42. - Responsa - Wednesday, Jul 12, 17 @ 4:06 pm:

    From Sun Times article:
    “The attempted extortion allegedly took place between October and April, while Coli served as president of Teamsters Joint Council 25 and secretary-treasurer of Teamsters Local Union 727.
    …”Coli previously served as international vice president of the central region of the International Brotherhood of Teamsters.
    ..”He recently announced his retirement from the union in a memo to his fellow members.

    “After more than 46 years of membership and service to my fellow Teamsters, it’s time to begin the next chapter. Above all, that includes spending time with my family, my loving wife of 35 years and my two beautiful grandkids,” Coli wrote in his memo.

    “While I’m so looking forward to quiet nights at home and big family dinners, I will spend my days honored and forever grateful to this union, for its bedrock principles of equality and justice, and for the chance I had for nearly five decades to fight as hard as I could for Teamsters everywhere.”

    Yeah, so this is what readers will focus on. Not that in 2015 he was tapped by Gov. Rauner to join the states’ labor advisory board. Nice try though, guys

  43. - wordslinger - Wednesday, Jul 12, 17 @ 4:09 pm:

    The troncs mention Coli’s dealings with Emanuel, Blago and Quinn, but not his ties to Rauner.

    The troncs used to be hot for those Cellini lease deals, too. Crickets, now that he’s back under Rauner.

  44. - Tommydanger - Wednesday, Jul 12, 17 @ 4:27 pm:

    If Jimmy Hoffa could roll over, he would roll over in his grave.

    What’s the prevailing wage for stupid?

  45. - dlapine - Wednesday, Jul 12, 17 @ 5:01 pm:


    “Governor Bruce Rauner has appointed John T. Coli to the Labor Advisory Board. Coli brings close to four decades of experience in labor relations to the board.”

  46. - City Zen - Wednesday, Jul 12, 17 @ 5:01 pm:

    ==“…while Coli served as president of Teamsters Joint Council 25 and secretary-treasurer of Teamsters Local Union 727. Coli previously served as international vice president of the central region of the International Brotherhood of Teamsters.==

    “Previously served” implies he held one position before the other. Using DOL reports again, John T Coli has received 3 paychecks per year from the Teamsters as far back as 2010, at least.

  47. - Moody's Blues - Wednesday, Jul 12, 17 @ 6:16 pm:

    Wordslinger and other conspiracy theorists:
    I should have quoted the entire Tribune story, which does discuss the Rauner appointment and contract connections:

    “Last summer, Gov. Bruce Rauner appointed Coli to an unpaid seat on the Illinois Labor Advisory Board. The appointment came months after the Teamsters agreed to a new contract with the Rauner administration.”

  48. - walker - Wednesday, Jul 12, 17 @ 6:42 pm:

    This is old school. When is it going to finally die? Why do members put up with it? In a lot of the country these jamokes were tossed out of the Teamsters in the 90’s and 00’s.

  49. - wordslinger - Wednesday, Jul 12, 17 @ 6:57 pm:

    MB, what tronc story are you reading?

    The one on their website was updated at 6:10 p.m., but still no mention of Rauner.

  50. - Robert the 1st - Wednesday, Jul 12, 17 @ 8:36 pm:

    A corrupt union official gets busted for a shakedown and Wordslinger is tearing up that all the news articles aren’t tying him to Rauner. Would be funny but too predictable.

  51. - wordslinger - Wednesday, Jul 12, 17 @ 8:38 pm:

    LOL, no Bobby 1, just the one article.

    Countin’s not your thing, I understand.

  52. - Robert the 1st - Wednesday, Jul 12, 17 @ 8:44 pm:

    I can count. How many Democrats did you list that Coli endorsed (and why the Tribune mentioned them)? How many times did he endorse Rauner?

  53. - wordslinger - Wednesday, Jul 12, 17 @ 8:46 pm:

    Bobby 1, the troncs listed all the Dems. They didn’t mention Rauner.

    That was the point.

    Hope that helps.

  54. - Robert the 1st - Wednesday, Jul 12, 17 @ 8:52 pm:

    I can only imagine how you and the regulars would rip apart a poster for your “victim” status for being mad the Tribune didn’t tie this union boss to Rauner. “Because Madigan (Rauner)”

  55. - Robert the 1st - Wednesday, Jul 12, 17 @ 8:53 pm:

    If the Ds and Rs were reversed I mean.

  56. - wordslinger - Wednesday, Jul 12, 17 @ 9:08 pm:

    Bobby, don’t strain anything important trying to figure out what you’re trying to say.

    No victim here, just pointing out a curious fact.

  57. - Robert the 1st - Wednesday, Jul 12, 17 @ 10:15 pm:

    Sure… Ron and Sue would be let off by you and the gang for “pointing out a curious fact”

    Hypocrisy, thy name is…

  58. - Da big bad wolf - Thursday, Jul 13, 17 @ 8:45 am:

    ==I can only imagine how you and the regulars would rip apart a poster for your “victim” status for being mad the Tribune didn’t tie this union boss to Rauner”
    A newspaper has one job, report the news. Is that so hard?

  59. - Stumpy's bunker - Thursday, Jul 13, 17 @ 9:01 am:

    Can somebody serve as Deputy Governor of Labor Issues ‘N’ Stuff while on federal probation?

    Asking for a friend… /s

  60. - Da big bad wolf - Thursday, Jul 13, 17 @ 9:23 am:

    =This would never happen if we had right to work.=
    Or term limits.(snark)

  61. - Robert the 1st - Thursday, Jul 13, 17 @ 9:48 am:

    =A newspaper has one job, report the news.=

    Too funny. It did not? WS was just crying that a report about a corrupt, connected, union boss wasn’t turned into a hit piece on Rauner. Are you people really this partisan blind?

  62. - Robert the 1st - Thursday, Jul 13, 17 @ 9:49 am:

    corrupt, connected, *Democrat* union boss

    In case you couldn’t connect the dots.

  63. - Whoops - Thursday, Jul 13, 17 @ 9:49 am:

    This stink would only get better if he flips on anyone and everyone.

  64. - wordslinger - Thursday, Jul 13, 17 @ 10:15 am:

    Geez, Bobby, still at it this morning?

    The commercial on the TV box says after four hours you should consult a doctor.

  65. - Robert the 1st - Thursday, Jul 13, 17 @ 10:42 am:

    Good one. Want to complain some more about the bias media?

  66. - Robert the 1st - Thursday, Jul 13, 17 @ 10:45 am:

    I wouldn’t care or bother to comment but you and I both know how you’d respond to Ron, Sue or anyone on the other side of the spectrum for such an embarrassingly partisan “victim” comment. Own it.

  67. - Da big bad wolf - Friday, Jul 14, 17 @ 7:18 am:

    =a hit piece on Rauner= No one in their right mind would think Rauner knew Coli was shaking businesses down when he was appointed. But by not telling that part of the story the Tribune is not telling a deeper, more interesting story. Coli not only charmed people in authority, but the Teamster rank and file. In return they trusted him and gave him power. Perhaps he told everyone what they wanted to hear?

Sorry, comments for this post are now closed.

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