Teamsters official to serve 6 months’ home confinement in ‘Top Chef’ case
Former Teamster official Mark Harrington assured a federal judge Thursday that he is already facing a harsh punishment for his role in attempting to extort jobs in 2014 from a production crew filming an episode of the television program “Top Chef.”
“What I love to do I can no longer do,” said Harrington, 62, who said he had made union advocacy his life’s work and now will be barred from holding union positions. “That’s a sentence I will have to live with the rest of my life.”
US District Judge Douglas P. Woodlock, at a hearing Thursday, accepted a plea agreement Harrington had reached several months ago with the US Attorney’s Office and sentenced him to two years’ probation that includes six months of home confinement.
“You have to pay a price for being involved,” the judge told Harrington. He called the sentence “a fair price.”
Harrington was one of five Teamsters members accused of roughing up production crew members taping the TV show at the Steel & Rye restaurant in Milton. The union members were accused of using strong-arm tactics to extort jobs from the television show under the threat of disrupting the filming.
Harrington pleaded guilty in September, in a deal with prosecutors that would require he spend no more than two years on probation and avoid prison. Harrington, the former secretary-treasurer of Local 25, faced more than two years in prison under sentencing guidelines.
Prosecutions against the other defendants are pending. They have pleaded not guilty.
Harrington did not speak to reporters as he left the courtroom. His lawyer, Robert Goldstein, said Harrington is not cooperating with the government, and he does not expect him to testify at the trial of the other union members.
“Mr. Harrington is very thankful the court ultimately accepted the joint recommendation of the parties as a fair and just resolution of this case,” Goldstein said.
The “Top Chef” case became linked to Boston City Hall when prosecutors alleged in an indictment last year that a top official in Mayor Martin J. Walsh’s administration — later revealed to be tourism director Ken Brissette — warned two Boston restaurants that the union would picket if the restaurants agreed to host the show. The Boston restaurants then canceled agreements to host, and the taping was moved to Steel & Rye.
Brissette and another top Walsh aide, Timothy Sullivan, the city’s acting director of intergovernmental relations, were indicted this year for allegedly withholding city permits from Boston Calling until the leaders of the popular music festival agreed to hire union stagehands. Brissette and Sullivan have pleaded not guilty.