Teamsters chief pleads guilty to conspiracy charges in deal with prosecutors By Denise Lavoie, Associated Press, 4/25/03 BOSTON -- Local Teamsters head George Cashman pleaded guilty Friday to conspiracy charges in a deal struck with prosecutors on the eve of his embezzlement trial. Cashman, president of Local 25, pleaded guilty to two charges of conspiracy in two separate schemes -- one in which he and others were accused of extorting $100,000 from a health care company and another in which timesheets were falsified to allow 19 truck drivers to illegally collect more than $72,000 in health care benefits. As part of the plea, Cashman admitted accepting $20,000 of the $100,000 extorted from Cardinal Health. William Carnes, the local's vice president, also pleaded guilty Friday to four counts of fraud in the timesheets case. Surrounded by about a dozen supporters from the Teamsters, Cashman, 54, spoke briefly with reporters after the hearing. He said he was grateful for his 36 years with the Teamsters and the opportunity improve the lives of many through better work benefits. "I believe that I've made a difference," he said. Because of their convictions, both Cashman and Carnes will lose their Teamsters jobs. U.S. District Judge Douglas Woodlock set a sentencing date of Aug. 7. Under federal sentencing guidelines, Cashman faces a possible prison term of between 30 and 37 months, while Carnes faces six to 12 months, said Assistant U.S. Attorney Fred Wyshak. Under the plea agreement, prosecutors have agreed to ask for a sentence in the middle of the guideline range. One of the drivers who collected benefits was John "Mick" Murray, an admitted associate of fugitive gangster James "Whitey" Bulger. Jury selection had been scheduled to begin Monday. Both men faced multiple charges of conspiracy, embezzlement and bribery. Cashman's defense was dealt a blow last week when one of his associates, Thomas DiSilva, cut a deal with prosecutors and agreed to testify against Cashman. DiSilva, a trucking company owner, pleaded guilty to two charges in the scheme to embezzle from the union's benefit plan by fabricating work hours. He also said that he and Cashman had extorted $100,000 from Cardinal Health and that Cashman kept some of the money. Both were indicted in that case last month. Cashman, a former truck driver with close ties to former Govs. William Weld and Paul Cellucci, has been the union head since 1992. He also held a seat on the Massachusetts Port Authority board until May, when he was pressured to resign after he was indicted. The indictment was brought by a Worcester grand jury probing allegations that members of Local 25 extorted Hollywood filmmakers, including producers of "The Perfect Storm" and "The Cider House Rules" during filming in New England. Film directors complained that the union -- which represents about 9,000 members in trucking, warehousing and other businesses in the Boston area -- forced them to hire unnecessary workers and rent equipment from its members. Local 25 handles all negotiations with studios and independent filmmakers who want to shoot movies in Massachusetts, Maine, New Hampshire and Vermont. The grand jury probe is continuing.