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Five Boston Teamsters Indicted for ‘Top Chef’ Threats

Five Boston-based members of the Teamsters have been indicted for allegedly threatening a production company filming Bravo’s “Top Chef” in Boston.

“The indictment alleges that a group of rogue Teamsters employed old school thug tactics to get no-work jobs from an out of town production company,” said U.S. attorney Carmen M. Ortiz. “In the course of this alleged conspiracy, they managed to chase a legitimate business out of the City of Boston and then harassed the cast and crew when they set up shop in Milton. This kind of conduct reflects poorly on our city and must be addressed for what it is – not union organizing, but criminal extortion.”

John Fidler, Daniel Redmond, Robert Cafarelli, Richard Jeffrey and Mark Harrington — all members of Local 25 of the Intl. Brotherhood of Teamsters — were indicted for conspiracy to extort, attempted extortion and aiding and abetting.

“The company hired its own employees, including drivers, for the filming of the show and did not need work performed by union members,” the U.S. attorney’s office said in a statement. “Beginning on June 5, 2014, the defendants conspired to force the production company to pay Local 25 members for unnecessary work by threatening physical and economic harm to the company.”

The harassment allegedly included a verbal threat to assault Padma Lakshmi, the show’s host, when she arrived at a Boston restaurant where the show was being filmed. “We’re gonna bash that pretty face in, you f—ing whore!” one of the protesters is reported to have yelled.

If convicted, the Teamsters face prison terms of up to 20 years in prison and fines of up to $250,000.

“While unions have the right to advocate on behalf of their members, they do not have the right to use violence and intimidation,” said Joseph R. Bonavolonta, acting special agent in charge of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Boston Field Division. “The strong-arm tactics the FBI has seen in this case are egregious and our investigation is far from over. Today’s arrests should send a message to those who think they can get away with manipulating the system that they better think twice.”

A rep for Local 25 had no immediate comment.

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