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BLET president arrested on bribe charge

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Edward W. Rodzwicz, president of the Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers and Trainmen, was arrested at his Ohio home on a federal complaint charging him with bribery. Rodzwicz is accused of soliciting and accepting $20,000 in bribes from a St. Louis lawyer, who in exchange would remain on a list of attorneys approved to handle injury cases for union members, according to prosecutors. A press release issued by the U.S. Justice Department's U.S. attorney's office for the Eastern District of Missouri in St. Louis says, "According to the affidavit filed with the criminal complaint, the BLET maintains a list of designated legal counsel, who are recommended to their membership to handle injury cases under the Federal Employers Liability Act. Designation as a DLC generates very lucrative business for designated attorneys. "The national president of the BLET has final authority over the designation of FELA attorneys.  "In February 2009, an internal compliance committee recommended that a particular DLC attorney for the BLET should lose his designation, due to alleged violations of DLC Rules of Conduct. "On March 10, 2009, Rodzwicz approached that attorney in Little Rock, Ark., and solicited a payment from that attorney in exchange for allowing him to retain his DLC designation. The DLC attorney contacted the Department of Labor, Office of Inspector General. "In subsequent meetings at the attorney's office in St. Louis, and at Harrah's Casino, Las Vegas, Rodzwicz solicited and agreed to accept a cash payment of $10,000 from the attorney, plus the promise of an additional cash payment of $10,000 after Rodzwicz allowed him to retain his designation. "Rodzwicz accepted a cash payment from the attorney on April 28, 2009, in Las Vegas, and he sent a letter allowing the attorney to retain his designation on May 1, 2009. "He accepted a second cash payment of $10,000 from the attorney on Sept. 16, 2009, in Kansas City, Mo." If convicted, Rodzwicz, 63, faces up to 15 years in prison and possible fines up to $500,000. Rodzwicz became president of the BLET, a division of the International Brotherhood of Teamsters in March 2008. The railroad union has 55,000 members nationwide.

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