Trial of Teamsters accused of 'Top Chef'
extortion plot to wrap up
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[August 10, 2017]
By Nate Raymond
BOSTON (Reuters) - Closing arguments are
set for Thursday in the trial of four Teamsters union members in Boston
charged with trying in 2014 to extort jobs from a production company
filming "Top Chef" through thug tactics that included threatening host
The arguments in Boston federal court follow testimony by Lakshmi and
crew members on the Bravo network cooking competition show about how
Teamsters threatened them and yelled racial and homophobic slurs at a
Prosecutors claim the Teamsters were trying to secure wages for
unnecessary services as drivers during the filming of "Top Chef," which
had hired non-union workers for those positions while filming throughout
the Boston area.
Lawyers for Daniel Redmond, John Fidler, Robert Cafarelli and Michael
Ross said the Teamsters Local 25 members were engaged in legitimate
picketing as the union tried to negotiate to secure jobs.
They have pleaded not guilty to conspiracy and attempted extortion
Prosecutors said that on June 5, 2014, Redmond approached the show's
crew while it was filming at a hotel, demanded union members be hired as
drivers and told a producer to call Mark Harrington, his union
They said several locations withdrew from participating in the show
after the union threatened to picket them, prompting production company
Magical Elves to film at the Steel & Rye restaurant in the suburb of
Milton that June 10.
Harrington, Redmond, Fidler, Cafarelli and Ross showed up at the
restaurant and members of the group chest-bumped and threatened crew
members and blocked food deliveries, prosecutors said.
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Teamsters Local 25 members Daniel Redmond (L) and Robert Cafarelli
(C) enter the federal court in Boston, Massachusettes, U.S., July
31, 2017. REUTERS/Nate Raymond/File Photo
Witnesses have testified that some Teamsters also swarmed a van
bringing Lakshmi to the set. Prosecutors claim that included Fidler,
who they said stuck his arm into her van and said, "I'll smash your
pretty little face."
"I could feel my heart beat in my chest, like when you're scared as
a child," Lakshmi testified on Monday.
Harrington was sentenced in December to six months in prison after
pleading guilty in the case.
The case has drawn intense attention after prosecutors said a member
of Mayor Martin Walsh's administration - Kenneth Brissette, the
city's head of tourism - withheld permits to push the production
company to hire Teamsters.
Brissette has pleaded not guilty to separate charges he tried to
withhold city permits for a music festival using non-union workers.
Walsh, a Democrat and former union leader, has said he expects his
administration's members to obey the law.
(Reporting by Nate Raymond in Boston; Editing by Andrew Hay)
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