Fundraiser held for former union boss

March 24, 2009 8:43:56 PM PDT
The former head of the Chicago Crime Commission called an event held on Tuesday night to help a former union boss pay his legal bills questionable.The fundraiser attracted some high profile people including actor Jim Belushi and former Chicago Bear Richard Dent.

Some of the most influential and recognizable figures in Chicago gathered at a restaurant in Old Town to support Bill Hogan.

The one-time head of the Teamsters Local 714 has friends in high places even though he was kicked out of the union six years ago amidst allegations he tried negotiate a sweetheart deal with contractors.

Now he's fighting federal contempt of court charges for having contact with union members.

"I don't get what these guys are doing to Bill. I don't know why they have pinned him to the wall. A man should have a right to speak to his friends and family," said Jim Belushi, Hogan's friend.

Friends say Hogan is having to spend several hundred thousand dollars to defend himself in the case. And that's why they are there; to help raise money for his defense. Many say they came on principal.

"Financially, it has been a burden on him. And he needs some help and support," said Richard Dent, former Chicago Bear.

"It's outrageous that in America, a country that is founded on the principle of freedom of speech, someone would be facing not just fines but imprisonment for exercising that right to free speech," said Christie Hefner, former Playboy CEO.

Hogan admits having brief contact with several lifelong friends in the union. But he vows to fight the charges.

"You want to throw me out of the union, you got rid of me and hassled my family and did a lot of stuff to me, but then leave me alone. Let me talk to my friends," said Bill Hogan, former Teamsters official.

The former head of the Chicago Crime commission Jim Wagner however says he believes all the support for Hogan is misplaced.

"This man was very, very clearly doing things to the detriment of the union. I'm not sure why the Chicago community feels it necessary to assist an individual like that," said Jim Wagner.

Despite the many friends and supporters here for him, Bill Hogan says there are many others who could not be here, including his two sons who are with the union. The case is expected to go to trial later this year.