Those who wish to understand how things work in Chicago need only read a single article that ties everything together: Teamsters boss indicted on charges of extorting $100,000 from a local business.
A politically connected Teamsters union boss was indicted Wednesday on federal charges alleging he extorted $100,000 in cash from a local business.
John Coli Sr., considered one the union’s most powerful figures nationally, was charged with threatening work stoppages and other labor unrest unless he was given cash payoffs of $25,000 every three months by the undisclosed business.
The alleged extortion occurred when Coli was president of Teamsters Joint Council 25, a labor organization that represents more than 100,000 workers in the Chicago area and northwest Indiana.
Coli, 57, an early backer of Mayor Rahm Emanuel, was charged with one count of attempted extortion and five counts of demanding and accepting prohibited payment as a union official.
Coli could not be reached for comment, but a statement posted Wednesday on the Teamsters Local 727 website announced he planned to retire at the end of the month after 46 years in the union.
In the statement, Coli said he had decided it was time “to begin a new chapter” and that he wanted to spend more time with his family.
The Coli family has been active in politics for years and is well-known for spreading around union cash to various candidates. Coli and his relatives have also been accused in civil lawsuits in both state and federal court of running the union like a racket — accusations they have vehemently denied.