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Former Teamster guilty of extorting Boston businesses

A former member of a Teamsters local that was based in South Boston was convicted Tuesday of shaking down businesses with other members of the union, federal prosecutors said.

James E. Deamicis, also known as “Jimmy the Bull,” 52, of Quincy, was convicted in US District Court in Boston of extortion and conspiracy to commit extortion, US Attorney Carmen M. Ortiz’s office said in a statement.

Deamicis, who was acquitted of related charges during an earlier trial, is also scheduled to plead guilty to mail fraud in the case on Nov. 30 in the same courtroom and he remains free on bail pending sentencing on March 23, records show.

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Ortiz’s office said Deamicis and other members of Teamsters Local 82 extorted businesses including Pt. Lighting Systems, the Westin Copley Hotel, and House of Blues by threatening “to picket and disrupt business, sometimes just hours before an event, if the entity did not accede to his demand for unwanted, unnecessary and superfluous jobs. [Deamicis] also demanded payment for these unnecessary ‘jobs.’”

But Deamicis’s lawyer, Thomas J. Iovieno, defended his client in a written statement.

“Mr. Deamicis was charged in a thirty count indictment with Racketeering and Extortion arising out of his work as a proud member of Local 82 Teamsters Union,” Iovieno said. “Mr. Deamicis was previously found not guilty of all other counts except three involving the alleged extortion of wages for work performed in the amount of $700.00.”

He said the first jury could not reach a verdict on the three remaining counts, and retrying Deamicis was “a monumental waste of the taxpayers money and resources.”

Iovieno added, “The law is quite clear that a Labor Union may engage in threats to picket in order to obtain jobs and wages for its members. Today’s verdict misapplied established law that has existed for decades.

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“Mr. Deamicis will certainly appeal this verdict on those three counts and is confident that he will be completely and without question fully exonerated.”

According to an indictment, Deamicis and three other union members , dubbed the Perry Crew, targeted businesses including hotels, catering companies, hospitals, and music companies with threats to disrupt their operations by picketing and other means if the outfits did not meet their demands for “imposed, unwanted, unnecessary, and superfluous jobs for themselves, their friends, and family members, some of whom were not union members.”

The crew collected payments from businesses without making contributions to union benefit funds, the indictment said.

Authorities said the Perry Crew assaulted and intimidated union members who were critical of union leadership and stationed a police officer in front of the entrance to a union hall to prevent certain rank-and-file members from voting on a contract proposal with a major employer.

The scheme ran from 2007 to 2011, according to court records.

“A jury unanimously found that Deamicis’ tactics were not legitimate union organizing, but orchestrated extortion,” Ortiz said Tuesday in a statement. “A union card is not a license to commit a crime; the strong-arm tactics belong in the history books, not on the streets of Boston.”

Deamicis faces up to 20 years in prison on each count, though sentences for federal crimes are usually lower than the maximum penalty, prosecutors said.

Two co-defendants, John Perry, 63, former secretary treasurer of Local 82, and Joseph “Jo Jo” Burhoe, 47, were convicted of related charges in November 2014 and received prison terms of 30 months and 70 months, respectively.

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A third defendant, Thomas Flaherty, 51, of Braintree, was acquitted of all charges.

The case bears similarities to a federal indictment pending against another Teamsters affiliate, the Charlestown-based Local 25. Local 82 merged with Local 25 in January 2012.

Five members of Local 25 are facing charges that they extorted a crew filming the TV series “Top Chef” in the Boston area, by allegedly warning the show’s producers they would picket any event at which the crew did not hire union drivers.

The indictment alleges the Teamsters “chest-bumped” the television staff while they were filming at the Steel & Rye restaurant in Milton, threatened violence, yelled profanities and racial and homophobic slurs, blocked vehicles, and slashed the crew’s tires.

Shortly after the indictments were made public, Mayor Martin J. Walsh’s administration hired Brian T. Kelly, a former top prosecutor in Ortiz’s office, to investigate allegations that a city employee called a hotel and restaurant to warn them that, if they hosted film crews that included nonunion workers, Teamsters Local 25 would picket the sites.

Walsh’s office has said previously that he did not know who made the calls or what was said, and that he fully supported “Top Chef” and participated in the show. The identity of the city employee has not been made public.

Kelly has not publicly released any findings of his investigation.


John R. Ellement, Shelley Murphy, and Milton J. Valencia of the Globe staff contributed to this report. Travis Andersen can be reached at travis.andersen@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @TAGlobe.

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