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Saturday, January 12, 2013

The New York Mob & Iowa Beef - Part II

Photo: Russ MacNeil
This is Part 2, of a two part series. Part 1 was posted last night (I recommend that you read it first). This, a story of Iowa Beef Processors and a criminal shake down perpetrated by the New York Mafia that affected most everyone in this country! 

Thanks to Eric Schlosser, author of Fast Food Nation: The Dark Side of the All American Meal and Jonathon Kwitny, author of Vicious Circles for much of this information:

Eric Schlosser writes: “In the spring of 1970, Holman and three other top IBP executives held secret meetings in New York City with Moe Steinman, a “labor consultant” who had close ties with La Cosa Nostra. Unionized butchers in New York were blocking (actually union dock workers) the sale of IBP’s boxed beef out of solidarity for the striking workers and fear for their own jobs. IBP was eager to ship it’s products to the New York metropolitan area, the nation’s largest market for beef. Moe Steinman offered to help end the butchers’ boycott and in return demanded a five cent “commission” on every ten pounds of beef that IBP sold in New York.”

The “commission” was the cut demanded by the New York mobsters! Since they controlled the union leadership of the east coast meat industry, they found the goose with many golden eggs. The union bosses didn’t give a rat’s **s about butcher’s losing their jobs. They were getting a small cut of the “commission” that the mob boys doled out to them. There were millions upon millions of dollars syphoned off in this criminal operation.

Schlosser continues: “After a lengthy investigation of mob involvement in the New York City meat business, Currier J. Holman and IBP were tried and convicted in 1974 for bribing union leaders and meat wholesalers. Judge Burton Roberts fined IBP $7000 but did not punish Holman with any prison time or fine, noting that bribes were sometimes part of the cost of doing business in New York City. Holman’s links to organized crime, however, extended far beyond the payments that honest New York businessmen were forced to make.”

They actually forced Holman to get rid of four company executives, while installing Steinman’s son-in-law a group vice president of IBP. One of Steiman’s friends was also appointed to the board of IBP. This man was formerly in prison, being convicted of bribery and selling tainted meat.

Jonathan Kwitny writes in his book, Vicious Circles: "Iowa Beef, though founded only in 1961, already in 1970 dominated the meat industry the way few other industries are dominated by anyone. Since then, in partnership with [Moe] Steinman and his family and friends, Iowa Beef has grown more dominant still. It was as if the Mafia had moved into the automobile industry by summoning the executive committee of General Motors, or the computer industry by summoning the heads of IBM, or the oil industry by bringing Exxon to its knees. Moe Steinman and the band of murderers and thugs he represented had effectively kidnapped a giant business. Its leaders were coming to pay him the ransom, a ransom that turned out to be both enormous and enduring."
Kwitny continues,
"As a result of the meeting in the darkened suite at the Stanhope Hotel [in New York City] that day in 1970, Iowa Beef would send millions of dollars to Steinman and his family under an arrangement that continued at least until 1978. After the meeting millions more would go to a life-long pal of Steinman and his Mafia friends, a man who had gone to prison for using slimy, diseased meat in filling millions of dollars in orders [by bribing meat inspectors] and wound up on Iowa Beef's board of directors.
"Consequent to the meeting in the Stanhope Hotel, Iowa Beef would reorganize its entire marketing apparatus to allow Steinman's organization complete control over the company's largest market and influence over its operations coast-to-coast. In 1975, Iowa Beef would bring Moe Steinman's son-in-law and protege to its headquarters near Sioux City to run the company's largest division and throw his voice into vital corporate decisions."

Jonathan Kwitny concludes in his book, Vicious Circles:
"Because of their hold on Iowa Beef, the racketeers' control of other segments of the meat industry would expand and harden. And as a result of all this, the price of meat for the American consumer --- the very thing Currier Holman had done so much to reduce ---  would rise. Meyer Lansky once said that the Syndicate was bigger than U.S. Steel. When Iowa Beef Processors caved in on that April day in 1970, the Syndicate, as far as the meat industry was concerned, became U.S. Steel."

You know what the sad part of this whole story is? The New York mobsters who perpetrated this whole thing came away from this virtually untouched. In 1971, two double agents in the New York District Attorney's office tipped off a contact for Paul Castellano (who, in 1976, would become head of the Gambino crime family of New York) that Moe Steinman was being investigated. The two detectives then sold themselves for $30,000 and began to lay out the investigation for the mob and keep them posted on all developments. This went on for two years as the mob bosses and union leaders stayed one step ahead of the Feds. After eventually being backed into a corner, Moe Steinman appeared to cooperate with the strike force, and provide evidence of further help. What he was really doing was orchestrating his own deal, giving up a few union people who were “disposable”, along with select meat managers and others who were not the primaries in the scandal. He was also able to arrange a plea deal for himself, eventually serving 6 months in prison for all of his crimes. About 10 meat company executives were eventually convicted and mostly sentenced to probation and fines. Iowa Beef received a fine of $7,000 and C.J. Holman continued operating the company as if nothing had ever happened. The power of the American Mob was enormous, especially on the east coast!
Eventual Justice? In December of 1985, Paul Castellano and his driver, Thomas Bilotti were gunned down by four shooters wearing trench coats in front of a New York steakhouse. The mob executions were ordered and watched by John Gotti as he sat in a car across the street.

Other of my related Mob Posts:
"Mr. Fancy Pants" Balistrieri - Tracking Milwaukee's most dangerous mobster
The Beef That Didn't Moo - Wisconsin Ties to the Mob
Tales of the Milwaukee Mob and Two Cigarette Men!
Married to the Daughter of a Milwaukee Mob Boss-Our Pediatrician!
The Milwaukee Queen Bee of Organized Crime
Tale of a Failed Milwaukee Mob Hit!
Lieutenant Uhura (of the Starship "Enterprise") - close encounters with the Chicago and Milwaukee Mob!
Part Two: The Milwaukee Mob and Lieutenant Uhura (Star Trek)
The New York Mob and Iowa Beef - Part 1


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