Shoddy punctuation helped bust Teamsters

Note to would-be union election riggers: Mind your punctuation.

A prosecution witness in the federal trial of three former Teamsters Local 743 officials accused of stealing an election testified yesterday that he was tipped off to the plan by typos in a union database.

Prosecutors say the typos were part of an effort by the defendants, Richard Lopez, David Rodriguez and Thaddeus Bania,  to alter the database to steer mailed ballots to their allies.

David Buvinger, one of the prosecutors, asked Department of Labor investigator Steve Bubolka to describe how he combed through subpoenaed records to identify more than a hundred addresses changed on a single day. 

Bubolka explained that he sorted more than 12,000 member’s records to find that more than 100 appeared to have moved. The moves all took place on the same day, and many of the members appeared to have moved to a handful of addresses.

Furthermore, according to evidence introduced yesterday, all of the records had been altered in the electronic database with Bania's user name.

And while original records in the database had periods after the suffixes for roads, the altered records did not.

The records appeared to have been changed back by former local president Robert Walston, who has already plead guilty to charges in connection with the election and is expected to testify.

George Becker, Bania’s attorney, questioned the strength of the government’s evidence. He suggested Bania’s account could have been comprised by then-president Walston.

The trial continues today.

Staff Writer Fernando Diaz covers labor and unions for the Daily News. He can be reached at 773.362.5002, ext. 14, or fernando [at] chitowndailynews [dot] org.