Jury convicts Roofers Union leaders

Nov. 23, 1987
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PHILADELPHIA -- A federal jury Monday convicted Roofers Union leader Stephen Traitz Jr., his two sons and 10 other union members of bribing 50 city judges and other officials and of extorting money from roofing contractors.

The jury of six men and six women deliberated nearly six days while sequestered before finding Traitz, 50, and other members of Roofers Union Local 30-30B of most of the racketeering, extortion, conspiracy and bribery charges against them.

The verdicts came as state Attorney General LeRoy Zimmerman announced a state grand jury presentment recommending more racketeering charges against Roofers Union officials, including Traitz, his two sons and some others who were convicted Monday.

Sentencing on the federal charges was set for Jan. 8. Traitz faces up to 150 years in prison.

Of the total 187 individual counts against the union members, the jury found them guilty of 170 crimes.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Ronald Noble said the crimes included 'all but a handful' of the charges of bribery, extortion, mail fraud, embezzlement, racketeering, conspiracy and receiving kickbacks.

When asked for a comment on the verdict, Traitz motioned toward the jury box and said: 'What can I say? They said it all.'

Traitz was comforted by union members and supporters as he left the federal courthouse. There was a scuffle outside the courthouse as union members tried to keep reporters and photographers away from Traitz.

'I don't think he's in shock,' said Ronald Kidd, Traitz's lawyer. 'I think he's extremely depressed. I think he feels extremely sorry for his children.'

Kidd said he would attempt to have the convictions reversed.

U.S. Attorney Edward S.G. Dennis said secretly taped conversations between union leaders and others that pointed to illegalities made the difference in the case.

'The tapes obviously are the core in the case so far as the evidence is concerned,' Dennis said. 'The defendants were very explicit in terms of their motives on the tape.'

Much of the trial testimony centered on cash gifts the union gave to judges, police officers and other public officials during Christmas 1985. Prosecutors said the union members also extorted money from roofing contractors.

Traitz, his sons Stephen III and Joseph and the other defendants maintained the cash gifts were Christmas presents. Traitz also said anything that he did that was potentially illegal was done for the benefit of the union.

The state grand jury probe recommended 15 Roofers Union officials, including Traitz, be charged with operating a corrupt organization and other offenses over an 18-year period.

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