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Four Teamsters in Boston acquitted of ‘Top Chef’ extortion plot

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Four Teamsters union members in Boston were acquitted on Tuesday of charges they tried to extort jobs from a production company filming “Top Chef” in 2014, using thuggish tactics that included threatening host Padma Lakshmi.

A federal jury found Daniel Redmond, John Fidler, Robert Cafarelli and Michael Ross not guilty of conspiracy and attempted extortion charges over what prosecutors called an effort to secure wages for unwanted services from the non-union company.

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The verdict followed a trial that drew attention thanks to the popular Bravo network cooking competition show and allegations involving the city’s tourism chief at the time, who faces charges in a separate union-related extortion case.

Defense lawyers celebrated the verdict as showing the Teamsters Local 25 members were engaged in legitimate picketing to push for real jobs.

“These gentlemen were executing their right to protest in favor of real jobs for union workers,” said Oscar Cruz, Redmond’s lawyer.

Acting U.S. Attorney William Weinreb expressed disappointment, calling the Teamsters’ conduct “an affront to all of the hard-working and law-abiding members of organized labor.”

Prosecutors had claimed the Teamsters used homophobic and racial slurs and violent threats to try to secure pay for unnecessary services from the “Top Chef” production company during filming around the Boston area.

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Prosecutors said Redmond on June 5, 2014, 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 supervisor.

They said after another hotel worried about picketing withdrew from participating in the show, production company Magical Elves switched to filming that June 10 at the Steel & Rye restaurant in the suburb of Milton.

Prosecutors said after Harrington, Redmond, Fidler, Cafarelli and Ross showed up, Teamsters threatened crew members, slashed tires and swarmed a van bringing Lakshmi to the set.

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Prosecutors said Fidler then told her, “I’ll smash your pretty little face.”

Harrington was sentenced in December to six months in prison after pleading guilty.

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Before the Milton incident, prosecutors said Kenneth Brissette, the city’s tourism head under Mayor Martin Walsh, withheld permits to push for the Teamsters’ hiring.

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 ex-union leader, has said he expects his administration’s members to obey the law.

(Reporting by Nate Raymond in Boston; Editing by David Gregorio and Lisa Shumaker)

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‘I can’t wait for revenge’: White House aide vows payback over Trump impeachment trial

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The White House legislative liaison is seeking revenge as President Donald Trump faces an impeachment trial in the Senate.

According to Bloomberg reporter Daniel Flatley, legislative affairs director Eric Ueland walked past a group of reporters at the Capitol and said, "I can't wait for revenge."

White House liaison Eric Ueland just walked by a pen of reporters and said “I can’t wait for the revenge.”

— Daniel Flatley (@DanielPFlatley) January 23, 2020

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Trump to issue new rule restricting visas for pregnant women in latest attack on most vulnerable

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"If you think this won't be used to blatantly discriminate against immigrants based on gender and age, I have a bridge in Brooklyn to sell you."

In the Trump administration's latest effort to restrict travel to the U.S., the U.S. State Department is planning to issue new guidance to consular officers empowering them to refuse visas to pregnant travelers.

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Fox News legal analyst shames ‘unworthy’ Republicans who have already decided to acquit Trump

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Fox News legal analyst Andrew Napolitano's latest column explains why President Donald Trump's actions are worthy of impeachment -- and he shames any Republican senators who have already made up their minds.

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