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The city's top Teamsters union officialthe son of a Mafia soldierhas come up with a novel excuse for allegations that he shook down his own members for cash and used union staff as personal valets: Epstein-Barr chronic fatigue syndrome made him do it.
Anthony Rumore, president of the 25,000-strong Teamsters Joint Council 16 and leader of a union local whose members drive the region's beer and soda trucks, said he was so exhausted he didn't know what he was doing when he pressured his local's business agents to get his 3,800 members to ante up $100 each to pay his personal legal bills.
According to charges filed last week by an independent union anti-corruption panel against Rumore, the powerful Teamster became so outraged at his members' failure to cough up donations to help Rumore pay an $88,000 legal bill that he held up paychecks for the the union's business agents.
"If my lawyers don't eat, they don't eat," Rumore allegedly said in a meeting last July at union headquarters in Scarsdale. Rumore earns $222,000 from combined salaries, and his wife, Elizabeth, earned $202,500 in 2002 for running the union's retirement fund. But Rumore's cash crunch took place last spring, shortly after he returned from a two-month suspension due to separate charges. In that case, Rumore was found to have improperly had dealings with ex-Teamsters leader Barry Feinstein, who was permanently banned from from the union in 1993. Rumore was represented by an old friend, criminal defense lawyer Thomas Puccio, who later billed Rumore $88,013 for his services. Rumore was prohibited from using the local's funds to pay it.
The solution, he decided, was to have the members bail him out. Rumore allegedly ordered the local's five business agents to hit up each member individually on payday. When contributions were slow in arriving, Rumore upped the ante, ordering all pending arbitrations can-celed. "Cancel them," Rumore allegedly screamed during one meeting. Business agents told investigators that when they protested that this could mean members' dismissals, Rumore shouted: "Leave the fucking cocksuckers in the street."
Rumore didn't recall the incidents. "I tell you the truth, whatever these gentlemen came in here and said, I will not dispute," he told investigators.
Rumore, 59, inherited Local 812 of the Soft Drink and Brewery Workers from his father, Louis, who was listed by the FBI as a member of the Gambino crime family. Louis Rumore was forced out of the union in the early 1990s. Anthony Rumore, who got his B.A. from Fordham in 1966 and an M.B.A. from Pace University in 1971, was never accused of his own mob ties.
If he wasn't mobbed up, however, Rumore enjoyed living royally. According to the charges, which have been referred to the international union, Rumore regularly used his staff to carry out personal tasks. These included building a new roof, deck, and skylight at Rumore's Pennsylvania vacation home; chauffeuring his two daughters to school and shops in Manhattan, as well as to appointments with a "guru" in New Jersey; driving the union leader's family to Baltimore for a wedding and setting up party tents at his father's Queens home.
Former Local 812 official John Russo told investigators that he was at hearings for Coca-Cola workers in November 1997 when Rumore ordered him to pick up his daughter. Russo said that when he warned Rumore that 17 members' jobs were at risk, the union boss barked: "Go get my daughter."
Rumore described such chores as "favors" from "friends." As for his fundraising push last year, he said that in addition to suffering from Epstein-Barr, he was "traumatized" by his suspension and sleep-deprived from his wife's recent hip surgery.