Judge Postpones Presser Trial
Jun. 08, 1988
CLEVELAND (AP) _ A federal judge Tuesday indefinitely postponed the trial of former Teamsters union President Jackie Presser after doctors said Presser may have six months to live.
U.S. District Judge George White ordered the postponement after reviewing letters from four doctors and talking to an Arizona surgeon at the hospital where Presser is a patient. Presser faces racketeering and embezzlement charges. White also ruled that two co-defendants who face payroll padding charges with Presser will stand trial as scheduled July 12.
''Mr. Presser is quite impaired mentally,'' wrote Dr. Leslie Sheeler of the Cleveland Clinic May 26 in a letter presented to White. ''He has virtually no short-term memory.
''The prognosis with this sort of metastatic tumor is in general very poor. The expected survival is something like six months.''
U.S. Attorney William Lynch Tuesday asked White to call Dr. Robert Spetzler, director of the Barrow Neurological Institute in Phoenix, Ariz. Presser has been receiving radiation treatment at the hospital following removal of a cancerous lesion from his brain May 17.
Spetzler said Presser is being treated with radiation for one additional brain lesion and may have two others.
Responding to Lynch's questions by telephone, Spetzler confirmed the other doctor's diagnosis.
But Spetzler also said that Presser has shown some improvement and if he continues to improve, a review in four to six months may indicate he is competent to stand trial.
Presser, Anthony Hughes and Harold Friedman are accused of participating in a $700,000 payroll padding scheme at Teamsters Local 507 in Cleveland, where Presser is secretary-treasurer. Presser, 61, relinquished his post as Teamsters president in May because of his health problems and was replaced by Weldon Mathis, the union's secretary-treasurer.
Friedman is Local 507's president and an International Teamsters vice president. Hughes is the local's secretary.
Presser's attorney, John Climaco, said Presser wanted the trial to continue and wants to testify. Climaco said Presser was innocent and was an FBI informant authorized to hire ''ghost employees,'' who were listed on the union's payroll but performed no work.