Breaking the Devil’s Pact

The Battle to Free the Teamsters from the Mob

320 pages

March, 2013

ISBN: 9781479883875



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James B. Jacobs, legal scholar and sociologist, is Warren E. Burger Professor of Law and Director, Center for Research in Crime and Justice, NYU School of Law. Among his books are Mobsters, Unions & Fed: The Mafia and the American Labor Movement, Gotham Unbound: How New York City Was Liberated from the Grip of Organized Crime, Busting the Mob: United States v. Cosa Nostra, and Corruption and Racketeering in the New York City Construction Industry, all published by NYU Press.

All books by James B. Jacobs

Kerry T. Cooperman is an attorney in the litigation department of Stroock & Stroock & Lavan and a former fellow in the Center for Research in Crime and Justice, NYU School of Law.

All books by Kerry T. Cooperman

In 1988, Manhattan U.S. Attorney Rudy Giuliani brought a massive civil racketeering suit against the leadership of the International Brotherhood of Teamsters (IBT), at the time possibly the most corrupt union in the world. The lawsuit charged that the mafia had operated the IBT as a racketeering enterprise for decades, systematically violating the rights of members and furthering the interests of organized crime. On the eve of trial, the parties settled the case, and twenty years later, the trustees are still on the job. 

Breaking the Devil’s Pact is an in-depth study of the U.S. v. IBT, beginning with Giuliani’s lawsuit and the politics surrounding it, and continuing with an incisive analysis of the controversial nature of the ongoing trusteeship. James B. Jacobs and Kerry T. Cooperman address the larger question of the limits of legal reform in the American labor movement and the appropriate level of government involvement.


  •  “In Breaking the Devil’s Pact, Jacobs and Cooperman persuasively show that the Teamsters could be freed from the tentacles of mob bosses only by an imaginative use of the civil remedies of RICO; as Congress rightly foresaw, criminal prosecutions alone were not enough.”

    —G. Robert Blakey, Notre Dame Law School, principal architect of RICO

  • “This book is a very important addition to the already most impressive series of studies Jacobs published in the last decades on the manifold ways organized crime can get embedded in core institutions, key industries and black markets and on the huge long-term efforts it takes to liberate societies to a certain extent from such a parasitical phenomenon. For European readers the overwhelming lesson is that competent, experienced and dedicated prosecutors, police officers, and judges are an equally strategic precondition for any successful campaign against organized crime as an appropriate legal framework to contain its most damaging societal manifestations."

    —C. J. C. F. Fijnaut, Tilburg University

  • "Breaking the Devil’s Pact tells the compelling story of the government's Herculean effort to break La Cosa Nostra's stranglehold over a notorious union. It will shock and surprise you, proving once again that the truth really is stranger than fiction.”

    —Randy Mastro, Litigation Partner, Gibson Dunn & Crutcher LLP, and former federal prosecutor

  • "Court-ordered reform of a private organization is more easily prescribed than implemented. Breaking the Devil’s Pact is an intriguing account of a continuing, decades-long struggle to rid a powerful union of corrupt influences. It will certainly appeal to specialists in organized crime and labor relations. Moreover, it will be of interest well beyond a North American readership. Regulatory scholars around the world will note the very real limits to what they call ‘enforced self-regulation.’ Democratic theorists will recognize the challenge of voter apathy. Sociologists of organizations will see an extreme example of inertia. Political scientists will be heartened by the apolitical nature of reform efforts over four successive presidential administrations, but disappointed with the slow pace of change. Metaphorically speaking, Breaking the Devil’s Pact is a mansion with many fascinating rooms."

    —Peter Grabosky, FASSA, Professor, Regulatory Institutions Network, Australian National University

  •  “It has long been clear that criminal prosecutions alone cannot remedy systemic organizational corruption. Criminologists, policymakers, prosecutors, and investigators will find much of interest in this well-written and important analysis of the government's use of the civil provisions of the RICO statute to purge organized crime's influence from the Teamsters Union. This invaluable case study demonstrates the advantages and pitfalls in using civil RICO to implement large-scale organizational reform.”

    —Ronald Goldstock, Commissioner, NYS Waterfront Commission, and former Director, NYS Organized Crime Task Force

  • “I salute Jacobs and Cooperman for this scholarly yet gripping study of a long-drawn-out, multi-front effort, both private and governmental, to promote democracy and root out corruption within the Teamsters Union. They not only tell an exciting story about a colorful cast of characters—good and bad and in-between. They also ask all the hard questions: Do rank-and-file members really care about union democracy? Does the most effective reform come from the inside or the outside? And, ultimately, what is the role of a labor organization like the Teamsters in our postindustrial society?”

    —Theodore J. St. Antoine, Degan Professor Emeritus of Law, University of Michigan

  • "This is a stunning book not only for what it says about the dramatic battle against corruption in the nation's most powerful labor union, but as well for what it says about the role of courts in effecting changes in large-scale private organizations in modern America. It is a ‘must read’ for all law and politics scholars.”

    —Malcolm M. Feeley, Claire Sanders Clements Dean's Professor, Boalt Hall School of Law, University of California at Berk

  • "The definitive legal and political account of this piece of [Teamsters] history."

    Library Journal

  • "This book should be of interest to all those interested in racketeering law, organized crime, and the role of the government in addressing entrenched organized crime and corruption in private organizations."

    —Jay Albanese, Criminal Law and Criminal Justice Book Review

  • "[A] meticulous study...richly detailed."

    —A.B. Cochran, CHOICE