A federal judge said he is mulling jail time for one of the Teamsters on trial in the “Top Chef” case after the defendant posted on a Facebook page in support of the union members.
Judge Douglas Woodlock said Daniel Redmond, violated his Aug. 1 order that no witness or defendant speak publicly about the case outside the courtroom when the Teamster posted an article on the Facebook page, “Support the Teamster 4” earlier this week.
“He has to understand there may be a punitive consequence,” Woodlock told Redmond and his lawyers Friday, after the jury was sent home following four hours of testimony. “This is no occasion for public dissemination ... on anything that touches on this case. This is no way to try a case.”
Redmond, 49, along with John Fidler, 53, Robert Cafarelli, 47, and Michael Ross, 62, members of Local 25 are charged with conspiracy to extort and aiding and abetting after prosecutors said they harassed and threatened the production crew of “Top Chef,” a non-union show, for failing to hire Teamsters during filming in June, 2014. Lawyers for the men have said the Teamsters were picketing for better jobs and wages for their members.
One of Redmond’s lawyers, Oscar Cruz Jr., said his client believed the order only extended to talking with reporters, not posting on a Facebook page.
Redmond posted an article that focused heavily on the testimony of an NBC executive who testified that he offered to pay off the Teamsters if they would leave staff on the show alone. The Teamsters refused the offer.
Redmond “understands his mistake and it won’t happen again,” Cruz said of his client.
The Facebook page was taken down by Friday afternoon.
Woodlock issued the order on Tuesday, after he learned that Fidler spoke with an ABC reporter. Anyone who violated the order, Woodlock said at the time, would be found in contempt.
On Friday, Woodlock said he would wait to take any action until after the trial so Redmond could continue to have easy communication with his lawyers. Redmond was released after his 2015 arrest on $50,000 bond.
Prosecutors are expected to wrap up testimony next week. “Top Chef” host Padma Lakshmi, who was allegedly threatened by Fidler in June 2014 when the show was filming in Milton, is expected to testify early in the week, along with Gail Simmons, another celebrity on the program.
On Friday, the jury heard from five witnesses who were at the Steel & Rye restaurant in Milton. All of them described raucous, rude behavior from the Teamsters who they allege cursed and yelled at “Top Chef” staff and threw around racist slurs.
“Top Chef” hired Milton police officers to send a detail to the scene after they learned the Teamsters might picket. Though witnesses reported slashed tires on about a dozen vehicles associated with the show, no one was arrested or ordered to leave.
Peter Fickeisin, who was working at William Raveis Mortgage at the time and left his office near the restaurant to see the commotion, testified that he asked an officer to intervene.
“I said I couldn’t understand how people could act like that and not be asked to leave,” Fickeisin said. “He said he couldn’t do anything.’
Milton police have declined to comment citing the ongoing trial. Defense attorneys have said the officers who were present that day are expected to testify.