Michael Rudy Tham

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Michael Rudy Tham (sometimes known as Rudy Michael Tham or Rudy Tham) (1923? – 5 October 1998) was a San Francisco Teamsters Union leader with alleged mafia connections.[1]

Early life[edit]

Not much is known about his early life. He was a native of California, USA, and an accomplished boxer who won an amateur welterweight title in 1941.[1]

During World War Two, Tham sailed the world as a merchant marine, before returning to the Bay area to join the International Brotherhood of Teamsters in 1946.[1]

International Brotherhood of Teamsters[edit]

Tham began life in the Teamsters as an organiser of wholesale grocery sales workers, going on to found the Freight Checkers, Clerical Employees and Helpers Local 856 in San Francisco in 1949.[1][2] Local 856 went on to become, under Tham, the first San Francisco Union since the 1930s to sign contracts in Chinatown, and went on to have thousands of members.[1] Rudy grew up in Five Points New York during his early years.

San Francisco Fire Commission[edit]

In 1966, Mayor John Shelley appointed Tham to the San Francisco Fire Commission.[1] He was reappointed to this position in 1970 by Mayor Joseph Alioto and, again, in 1974.[1]

Allegations of organised crime influence[edit]

Throughout his career, Tham was dogged by allegations of misconduct.[1] Numerous accounts also say that he was associated with James Fratianno, a known Mafia member. Fratianno claimed that he had an interest in a union dental plan being organised by Tham and himself. If successful, Fratianno said, he would collect $10,000 a month from dentists' kickbacks and "phony" medical claims.[3]


In 1972, Tham was charged with conspiring with "convicted labor racketeer Anthony DiLorenzo to extort a $190,000 contract from a national air freight company by calling a Teamsters Union strike."[4] However, the case was dismissed due to the Justice Department's delay in bringing the case to trial.[5]


Tham was indicted in 1979 on federal charges of "embezzling $2,790 in union funds and causing false entries to be made in union records."[6] He was convicted and sentenced for 6 months prison, and fined $50,000.[7] Tham appealed, but lost.[7]


In 1989, Tham was indicted, along with Abe Chalupowitz[2] (also known as Abe Chapman), a self-described "mob assassin of the 1930s" and convicted drug dealer,[8] and Federal District Court Judge, Robert P. Aguilar, on racketeering charges.[9] It was alleged that, on behalf of Mr. Tham, Judge Aguilar attempted to influence another Federal District Court Judge, Judge Stanley A. Weigel, "who was hearing the probation violation case against Mr. Tham" the prior year[9] concerning a 1980 embezzlement conviction.[10]

Tham appealed, but again, lost.[2]

International connections[edit]

Tham was also known to have dealings with overseas criminals. In a 1979 Australian news article, for example, it was found that Tham had dealings with Australian underworld figures such as Murray Riley and businessman, and convicted drug producer, Bela Csidei.[11]

In 1975, Mr. Tham, it is alleged, was helping Australians, including Riley, with negotiating a take-over of the Howard Johnson casino in Las Vegas.[12]

On another occasion, Tham was photographed in San Francisco with Csidei together with Jimmy Fratianno.[13] Prior to this, Tham visited Australia in 1974[14] and, according to the National Times, "contacted New South Wales organised crime figures."[15]

In the case of US v Mangano and Gavarenti (July 1982), Fratianno gave evidence stating that Tham had introduced him to the Australian, Sir Peter Abeles, director of Thomas Nationwide Transport (better known as TNT).[15] In the 1970s TNTs US operations were besieged by a number of "strikes, shootings and bombings."[15] Once Tham intervened, these stopped.[15]

Former Australian Prime Minister Bob Hawke acknowledged that in 1978, through Tham, he met with Sal Amarena, a mafia associate, in what Mr Hawke described as an incidental meeting.[16] Mr Hawke, then President of the Australian Council of Trade Unions, was en route to Vancouver to attend a conference of the Socialist International congress and had a stop-over in San Francisco.[17]


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h Schwartz, Stephen (7 October 1998). "S.F. Labor Leader Rudy Tham, 75". San Francisco Chronicle. Retrieved 2 February 2012.
  2. ^ a b c Leagle. U.S. v. Tham. 948 F2d. 1107 (1991).
  3. ^ Ovid Demaris. "The Last Mafioso - Part 2: Presser Helps Mafia Set Up Dental Program in Warren". Youngstown Vindicator (5 January 1981).
  4. ^ "Accused Of Extortion". The Modesto bee (26 July 1972).
  5. ^ Philip Hager. "Delay by U.S. Leads Judge to Drop Teamster Extortion Case". Los Angeles Times (7 July 1973).
  6. ^ "U.S. Indicts Teamster In $2,790 Funds Fraud" Toledo Blade (27 September 1979).
  7. ^ a b Justia US Law (16 December 1981). 665 F.2d 855: United States of America, Plaintiff-appellee, v. Michael Rudy Tham, Defendant-appellant.
  8. ^ Indicted judge called liar". Lodi News-Sentinel (8 March 1990).
  9. ^ a b Katherine Bishop. "Racketeer Charges Filed in California Against U.S. Judge". New York Times (14 June 1989).
  10. ^ "Indicted judge called liar". Lodi News-Sentinel (8 March 1990).
  11. ^ "Evidence Mafia already has a toehold in Australia". The Sydney Morning Herald (16 September 1979).
  12. ^ Bob Bottom. "The Mafia Connection". The Age (9 September 1985).
  13. ^ Bob Bottom. (1984). Without Fear or Favour (pp. 58-59). Victoria, Australia: Sun Books.
  14. ^ Evidence Mafia already has a toehold in Australia". The Sydney Morning Herald (16 September 1979).
  15. ^ a b c d John Pilger (1992). "A Secret Country" (p. 257). NSW, Australia: Vintage.
  16. ^ Ian Davis. "Hawke: I contacted teamster man". The Age (18 November 1983).
  17. ^ "One Halloween in San Francisco". The Sydney Morning Herald (17 November 1983).