The Chicago Syndicate: Teamster Sentenced for Attempted Extortion of #TopChef Reality Television Production Company
The Mission Impossible Backpack

Saturday, December 17, 2016

Teamster Sentenced for Attempted Extortion of #TopChef Reality Television Production Company

A member of Teamsters Local 25 was sentenced today in U.S. District Court in Boston in connection with his attempted extortion of a Top Chef reality television production company in June of 2014.

Mark Harrington, 62, of Andover, was sentenced by U.S. District Court Judge Douglas P. Woodlock to two years of probation with six months of home confinement, and ordered to pay a fine of $10,000 and restitution of $24,023. In November 2016, Harrington pleaded guilty to one count of attempted extortion.

In October 2015, Harrington was indicted along with John Fidler, Daniel Redmond, Robert Cafarelli, and Michael Ross for conspiring to extort and attempted extortion of money to be paid as wages for imposed, unwanted, and unnecessary and superfluous services from a reality television production company.

Beginning in spring 2014, a non-union production company began scouting locations to film a reality television show in Boston. A stage location was set up in Woburn, and a number of filming locations were chosen in and around the Boston area. In order to film in the City of Boston, permits must be approved by the City of Boston with the assistance of the Boston Film Bureau. In May 2014, with the necessary permits from the City of Boston, the company commenced filming at various locations in Boston. The company was scheduled to conduct further filming in the City of Boston, including at a hotel, a restaurant, and a college, in June 2014.

The company was not a signatory to any collective bargaining agreement with Local 25, and hired its own employees, including drivers, to produce and participate in the filming of the show.    

On or about June 5, 2014, Redmond allegedly approached the production crew as they were filming at a Boston hotel and demanded that members of Local 25 be hired as drivers. Redmond insisted that one of the producers on set speak with Harrington, the secretary-treasurer of Local 25. Harrington advised the producer that he did not care about the company and that all he cared about was that some of his guys get hired on the show. The producer explained that all of the drivers had been hired and there was no work for Local 25 to perform. Redmond allegedly demanded to know where else the crew would be filming and threatened to shut the production down that night. During several subsequent telephone calls that same day, Harrington and another union official warned the producer that if the company did not make a deal with Local 25, they would start to follow them and picket.

On or about June 9, 2014, a representative from the City of Boston allegedly called a second Boston hotel to inform them that Local 25 was planning to picket the company’s filming at the hotel the following day. In turn, the hotel notified the company that, despite their prior agreement, it would no longer permit the filming because it did not want to be associated with a Local 25 picket. As a result, the company found a new location for filming outside the City of Boston. The City of Boston representative made similar calls to other locations the company planned to film at in June 2014.

In the early morning hours on June 10, 2014, a Local 25 official told a producer that Local 25 was aware that the company was preparing to film at a Milton restaurant, and Local 25 would be sending 50 men to picket. As a result of that conversation, the company hired a police detail for the filming.  At 9:00 a.m. on June 10, 2014, defendants Harrington, Redmond, Fidler, Cafarelli and Ross showed up at the Milton restaurant. Two or three of the Local 25 defendants entered the production area and began walking in lockstep toward the doors of the restaurant where they chest-bumped and allegedly stomach-bumped production crew members in an attempt to forcibly enter the restaurant.

Throughout the morning, the Local 25 defendants allegedly continued to use and threaten to use physical violence against members of the crew and others; yelled profanities and racial and homophobic slurs at the crew and others; blocked vehicles from the entryway to the set and used actual physical violence and threats of physical violence to try and prevent people from entering the set. On one occasion, the Local 25 defendants prevented a food delivery truck from delivering food.  The Local 25 defendants were also observed by the crew standing in close proximity to cars belonging to the crew, nine of which were later found to have had their tires slashed.

The charging statute provides for a sentence of no greater than 20 years in prison, three years of supervised release and a fine of $250,000. Actual sentences for federal crimes are typically less than the maximum penalties. Sentences are imposed by a federal district court judge based upon the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and other statutory factors.

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