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United States. Congress. Senate. Select Committee.

Investigation of improper activities in the labor or management field. Hearings before the Select Committee on Improper Activities in the Labor or Management Field (Volume pt. 54) online

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went to Banner Mercantile; is that correct?

Mr. Belling. They issued a check to Banner Mercantile & Supply.
Actually, it was deposited in the account of Banner Mercantile & Sup-
ply Co., which is a company which was formed by Simon Cohen and
Benjamin Dranc w, which Mr. Cohen can explain.

Senator Goldwater. But that was a company that was owned, at
least in part, by Benjamin Dranow, and at Benjamin Dranow's in-
structions, this money w^as deposited in this company as commissions ?

Mr, Belling. That is correct.

Senator Goldwater. For obtaining this business and other business ?

Mr. Belling. That is correct.

Senator Goldwater. So accordino- to what their records show, he
received some $6,000 in commissions ?

Mr. Belling. That is directly earmarked as commissions. We have
other items as we go along to show that there were other moneys paid
to Dranow also.

Senator Goldwater. But $6,000 is listed in their books as com-
missions ?

Mr. Belling, Yes.

Senator Goldwater. What is the Banner Co. ?

jNIr. Belling. Banner Mercantile is a company formed by Simon
Cohen and Benjamin Drainow. Simon Cohen will be one of our
next witnesses.

Senator Goldw^vter. AMiat did Banner do ^ What were they or-
ganized for?

Mr. Belling. As I understand it, they were to sell various types
of items to the Teamsters, different insignias and things.

The Chairman. Do you want anything further at this time ?

Mr. Kennedy. Not at this time.

The Chairman. Call the next witness.

Mr, Kennedy. Mr, Simon Cohen.

The Chairman, Come forward, Mr. Cohen. Be sworn.

You do solemnly swear the evidence you shall give before this
Senate select committee shall be the truth, the whole truth, and
nothing but the truth, so help you God ?

Mr. Cohen, I do.

TESTIMONY OF SIMON COHEN, ACCOMPANIED BY COUNSEL,
ROBERT REED

The Chairman. State your name, your place of residence, and your
business or occupation, please, sir.

Mr. Cohen. Simon Cohen, born in New York March 10, 1907. 174
Broadway, Orange, N, Y,

The Chairman, \Vliat business are you in, Mr, Cohen?

Mr. Cohen. Manufacturer.

Mr. Reed. Senator McClellan, he is a little bit hard of hearing. We
would appreciate it if you would speak up a little bit.

The Chairman. Very well.

i\Ir. Counsel, identify yourself for the record.

Mr. Reed, Robert Reed, New York City.



IMPROPER ACTIVITIES IN THE LABOR FIELD 19005

Mr. Kennedy. Mr. Cohen, you are president of Town & Travel
Casuals, Inc. ?

Mr. Cohen. Yes.

Mr. Kennedy. Where is that located ?

Mr. Cohen. 525 Seventh Avenue.

Mr. Kennedy. And owner of the Bon Bon Pillows ?

Mr. Cohen. Correct.

Mr. Kennedy. What do the Bon Bon Pillows make ?

Mr. Cohen. Pillows.

Mr. Kennedy. What about Town & Travel Casuals ?

Mr. Cohen. Sportswear.

Mr. Kennedy. You have known Mr. Benjamin Dranow for a num-
ber of years ?

Mr. Cohen. Yes, sir.

Mr. Kennedy. You did business with him while he was operating
the John W. Thomas Department Store in Minneapolis?

Mr. Cohen. I did.

Mr. Kennedy. Did Dranow approach you about manufacturing
some jackets for the Teamsters Union ?

Mr. Cohen. He did.

Mr. Kennedy. When was that, approximately ?

Mr. Cohen. The early pait of 1958.

Mr. Kennedy. And what arrangements did he say that he wished
to make with you ?

]\Ir. Cohen. He said that h.e could get us orders for many thousands
of jackets, and what price could we get it for, and if it was satisfac-
tory, what rate of commission would I pay.

Mr. Kennedy. Would you relate it?

Mr. Cohen. I said, "Yes, we can make it," and I agreed to pay 5
percent commission.

Mr. Kennedy'. Five percent commission ?

Mr. Cohen. That is right.

Mr. Kennedy'. Was that satisfactory with him ?

Mr. Cohen. Yes.

Mr. Kennedy'. How many jackets did he say would be manufac-
tured ?

Mr. Cohen. He spoke about many thousands. He didn't pin any
exact amount.

Mr. Kennedy. Did you understand that you were going to manu-
facture jackets generally for the Teamsters Union ?

Mr. Cohen. That is right.

Mr. Kennedy. Was it your understanding that you would be manu-
facturing hundreds of thousands of these jackets?

Mr. Cohen. No. Many thousands. He didn't say hundreds of thou-
sands. He just said many thousands.

Mr. Kennedy. What was vour understanding, that there Avould be
5,000, 10,000, 50,000, 100,000 f

Mr. Cohen. He never stipulated the exact amount, but it was my
thinking it would be anywhere in the neighborhood of from 5,000 to
25,000.

Mr. Kennedy. And you were going to pay him a 5-percent com-
mission ; is that right ?

Mr. Cohen. That is correct.



19006 IMPROPER ACTIVITIES IN THE LABOR FIELD

Mr. ICennedt. How much was it decided that you would be paid

Mr. Cohen. Well, I told him that we had to get $13.75 for these
jackets. He thought he could get that price. Subsequently he told
me he couldn't get any more than $12.75. I told him in that case we
couldn't afford to pay him any commission and he said, "All right."

Mr. Kennedy. When did all of this occur ?

Mr. GoHEN. I didn't hear the question.

Mr. Kennedy. When did all of this occur?

Mr. Cohen. In the early part of 1958.

Mr. Ejinnedy. You were to pay him 5 percent of the $13.75, and
then the price went down to $12.75 ; is that right ?

Mr. Cohen. No. We gave him a quote of $13.75. It was our under-
standing we could get $13.75. But when he informed us we were not
going to get $13.75, we were only going to get $12.75, and we told him
in that case we couldn't afford to pay any commission.

Mr. Kennedy. Was there some dissatisfaction on the part of the
Teamsters Union with the jackets after they were manufactured?

Mr. Cohen. Only a few at the very end.

Mr. Kennedy. Was that one of the reasons that they wouldn't pay
the $13.75?

Mr. Cohen. No ; I don't think so.

Mr. Kennedy. Didn't you understand from some of your employ-
ees that they went down there because there was dissatisfaction with
some of the jackets, that the sleeves were too long, the sleeves were
too short, some jackets were too big and some were too small ?

Mr, Cohen. There seem to be a lot of confusing statements, but the
best I know is that when Mr. Dranow informed us that the Teamsters
couldn't afford to pay any more than $12.75, we told him we couldn't
make any.

Mr. Kennedy. Didn't you understand that that arose at a period of
time when they were dissatisfied with the jackets that you were manu-
facturing ?

Mr. Cohen. There was only a small amount of dissatisfaction
about, regarding the knitting at the end of the sleeve, a very nominal
amount.

Mr, Kennedy. Also, Mr. Cohen, wasn't there dissatisfaction with
the sizes that the individuals were receiving, that the sleeves were too
short or the jacket was too big?

Mr. Cohen. Sizes was wrong for the simple reason that they
weren't giving us proper sizes. They were giving us measurements
instead of sizes, and that is where the production department got
confused. When we had that cleared away, we had it straightened
out.

Mr. Kennedy. I am not saying who was ri^ht, between you and
the Teamsters, but that was a problem. You did have to send repre-
sentatives down to visit with the Teamsters in Detroit in connection
with that?

Mr. Cohen. That is right.

Mr. Kennedy. Didn't they, at that visit, say they would no longer
pay the $13.75 ?

Mr. Cohen. No, they never discussed the price up there. They
only discussed the sizes.



IMPROPER ACTIVITIES IN THE LABOR FIELD 19007

Mr. Kennedy. Didn't the lady from your office go up there to dis-
cuss the price?

Mr. Cohen. No. She went up there to clear up the account.

Mr. Kennedy. What was the price

Mr. Cohen. And to straighten up the size situation.

Mr. Kennedy. "^Ylien you say to clear up the account, that cer-
tainly implies the money you were owed.

Mr. Cohen. They hadn't paid for some time and we wanted to
get the accounts paid up.

Mr. Kennedy. They hadn't paid because they were dissatisfied
with the jackets, were they not?

Mr. Cohen. That, again, I don't know. As far as I know, there
was only

Mr. Kennedy. From your own testimony, she went there for two
purposes, to clear up the account and get the sizes straightened out.

Mr. Cohen. That is right.

Mr, Kennedy. Even so, there was a question, then, with the Team-
sters not wanting to pay more than $12.75, and being dissatisfied
with the jackets that you produced.

Mr. Cohen. I wasn't there, but to the best of my knowledge there
was no discussion of price up there. It was only a question of
straightening out the sizing, and getting the account cleared up. There
was no discussion as to price because that was discussed with Mr.
Dranow when he informed me that the Teamsters wouldn't pay any
more than $12.75.

Mr. Kennedy. Did you understand how he was able to make the
award of the contract to you ?

Mr. Cohen. I have no idea.

Mr. Kennedy. Who was it in the Teamsters Union that he was
taking his instructions from ?

Mr. Cohen. I have no idea.

Mr. Kennedy. Do you know how he was able to get this contract
himself ?

Mr. Cohen. I do not.

Mr. Kennedy. You never paid him the commission ?

Mr. Cohen. No, sir.

Mr. Kennedy. Did you have any financial dealings with him your-
self during that period of time ?

Mr. Cohen. Yes, sir.

Mr. Kennedy. What were those ?»

Mr. Cohen. I purchased stock in Jolui W. Thomas in Minneapolis.

Mr. Kennedy. How much did you pay for that ?

Mr. Cohen. The contract price was for $50,000.

Mr. Kennedy. That was in November of 1957 ? November of 1958 ?

Mr. Cohen. That is right.

Mr. Kennedy. $50,000?

Mr. Cohen. That is right.

Mr. Kennedy. And you sold that stock, I believe, in JanuaiT of
1959?

Mr. Cohen. That is right.

Mr. Kennedy. How much did you obtain for it?

Mr. Cohen. $1.



36751— 59— pt. 54 15



19008 IMPROPER ACTIVITIES IN THE LABOR FIELD

Mr. Kennedy. So you purchased it from Benjamin Dranow for
$50,000 in November of 1958 and sold it for $1 in Januaiy of 1959?

Mr. Cohen. No, I think the dates are wrong. I purchased it earlier
than 1958.

( The w itness conferred with his counsel. )

Mr. Reed. I believe they have a copy of the option.

Mr. Cohen. In June the option was granted. In November it was
exercised.

The Chairman. You actually, then, made the purchase in No-
vember ?

Mr. Reed. That is when it was exercised, the option was exercised.

The Chairman. You had an option from June to November?

Mr. Cohen. It was complete ; yes.

The Chairman. In November you paid the $50,000 ?.

Mr. Cohen. No, I didn't pa«y it in November. I had made pay-
ments to him previously whicli were loans. When I found that these
loans were not to be repaid I applied these loans against the stock
purchase and told him to apply tliat money so that we could bal-
ance out that stock purchase.

The Chairman. Then during the period of the option, you had been
making payments by making loans to him that were not to be repaid;
is that correct ?

Mr. Cohen. I am sorry ; I didn't get the question.

The Chairman. Well, you had an option that was entered into
sometime in June ; is that right ?

Mr. Cohen. That is correct.

The Chairman. During that period of time, from June until some-
time in November, you made payments on the stock by making loans,
to him which were not to be repaid ; is that correct ?

(The witness conferred with his counsel.)

Mr. Cohen. No ; that is not correct.

The Chairman. Well, let's find out. You had an option ?

Mr. Cohen. Yes.

The Chairman. From the day you got the option, what did you
do thereafter ?

Mr. Cohen. The option made specific payments necessary over a
given period of time. During the interim he made loans. When I
saw that these loans were not being repaid, I requested that these loans
be applied against the purchase price in November.

The Chairman. In November, what balance did you owe on the
purchase price?

Mr. Cohen. He owed me. He got about $6,000 more than he was
supposed to get.

The Chairman. So actually you were out $5G,000 instead of $50,000 ?

Mr. Cohen. That is correct.

The Chairman. From June to November, a period of 4 months
from the time the option had been made, he had gotten out of you
some $56,000?

Mr. Cohen. That is correct, except that some of the loans were made
prior to June.

The Chairman. Some were made prior to that ?

Mr. Cohen. That is right.

The Chairman. How much?



IMPROPER ACTIVITIES IN THE LABOR FIELD 19009

Mr. Reed. They have all the checks.

:Mr. Cohen. Mr. Kennedy has all the checks and all the records.

The Chairman. We have those. Anyway, he had gotten in debt
to you and you bought the stock ?

Mr. Cohen. That is right.

The Chairman. In November, you closed out. You got the stock
and you had overpaid, according to the account, overpaid $6,000?

Mr. Cohen. That is true.

The Chairman. And you took the stock at that time, in November.
When did you dispose of it ?

Mr. Cohen. I haven't got the exact date.

]\Ir. Kennedy. January of 195

Mr. Reed. Mr. Kennedy has it.

Mr. Kennedy. January 29, 1959.

The Chairman. So you actually had this stock. It was delivered to
you in November.

Mr. Cohen. The stock was never delivered to me.

The Chairman. It was never delivered to you ?

Mr. Cohen. No, it was held in escrow by the Teamsters Union as
collateral on the mortgage.

Tlie Chairman. So it never actually came into your possession ?

Mr. Cohen. No, sir.

The Chairman. And you sold your equity in it in January of 1959
for $1 ?

Mr. Cohen. That is correct.

The Chairman. Then you lost $55,999 in transaction.

Mr. Cohen. That is correct.

The Chairman, you were losing it pretty fast.

Mr. Cohen. That is right.

The Chairman. All right. Proceed.

Mr. Kennedy. Wliy would you spend $50,000 in November with
Mr. Dranow, and sell it for $1 in January ?

Mr. Cohen. Well, to begin with, I didn't spend it in November. I
agreed to go into this deal in the early part of 1958, and I took an
option.

Mr. Kennedy. You didn't exercise option until November 6.

Mr. Cohen. That is right.

Mr. Kennedy. You weren't indebted to him until November 6.

Mr. Cohen. But he was indebted to me.

Mr. Kennedy. On November 6 of 1958 ?

Mr. Cohen. That is correct, and I probably would not have taken
up the option if he wouldn't have owed me the money by that time.

Mr. Kennedy. Then we will go back a little bit.

AVhy were you loaning him so much money during this period of
time ?

Mr. Cohen. To begin with, I have known him for about 25-some-odd
years, and his family for more than 30 years. I have never known
him to not pay his obligations, and at tinies many years ago when I
did make loans to him, he always repaid it in good faith. I did not
think that we wouldn't repay this either, and in fact for all I know
he might have intended to repay this, too, but when I made many
demands on him for this money and he did not make any effort to
i-epay it, and in fact I was'nt able to find him for a good period of



19010 IMPROPER ACTIVITIES IN THE LABOR FIELD

time, I felt the best thing to do was to complete the transaction and
get through with it.

Mr. Kennedy. Did you make any loans prior to the time that you
got the contract on the jackets ?

Mr. Cohen. I believe that I did.

Mr. Kennedy. Did you make any loans prior to the time that you
first discussed the jacket deal with him ?

Mr. Cohen. I believe that I did. The records will indicate it
themselves.

Mr. Kennedy. The first loan apj^ears to be on December 17, 1957,
which was at this time.

Mr. Cohen. I made loans to Mr. Dranow up to 20 years ago.

Mr. Kennedy. Between 20 years ago, and

Mr. Cohen. And 5 years ago, and 10 years ago.

Mr. Kennedy. Between 5 years ago and December 17, 1957, had you
made any loans ? Did you make any loans in 1957 up to December 17 ?

Mr. Cohen. During the year 1957 I don't think so, but my records
will indicate exactly what I gave him.

Mr. Kennedy. Doesn't the record show this is the first loan for
$3,000?

Mr. Cohen. The first loan at that time.

Mr. Kennedy. Excuse me.

The Chairman. Here is a photostatic copy of a check dated De-
cember 17, 1957, made to Benjamin Dranow in the amount of $3,000,
apparently signed by Town & Travel Casuals, Inc.

Will you please examine it and state if you recognize this photo-
static copy ?

(A document was handed to the witness.)

Mr. Cohen. I do.

The Chairman. It may be made exhibit No. 20.

(Document referred to was marked "Exhibit No. 20" for reference
and will be found in the appendix on p. 19130.)

The Chairman. Is that the first loan that you made to Dranow ?

Mr. Cohen. That is right.

The Chairman. That is the winter of 1957 ?

Mr. Cohen. That is right.

The Chairman. Is that first one involved in this transaction of
$56,000?

Mr. Cohen. It had nothing to do with the transaction. At that
time I had no intention of buying Thomas Store stock, and I hadn't
spoken about it.

The Chairman. At that time it was not involved and you simply
made a loan ?

Mr. Cohen. That is correct.

The Chairman. In the meantime, that was not paid back, however,
until after it was finally liquidated by the transfer of the stock
transactions ?

Mr. Cohen. Yes, sir.

Mr. Kennedy. About this period of time

Mr. Cohen. Correction there, Mr. Reed tells me that this check was
reff id, r.nd Mr. Dranow gave his own check in repayment of that
$3,000.

Mr. Reed. I think there were moneys coming in in repayment of
that.



IMPROPER ACTIVITIES IN THE LABOR FIELD 19011

The Chairman. This one was repaid and it didn't become a part of
the stock transaction.

Mr. Cohen. No.

Mr. Reed. We turned over to Mr. Bellino those checks which were
part of the transaction.

The Chairman. We liave them.

Mr. Kennedy. Certainly the discussions about the jackets came up
about this period of time, did they not ?

Mr. Cohen. No ; they did not.

Mr. Kennedy. When did they come up ?

Mr. Cohen. Sometime in February or January of 1958.

Mr. Kennedy. This was December 17, 1957.

Mr. Cohen. Apparently, yes,

Mr. Kennedy. You had not had any discussions with him about the
jackets at that time ?

Mr. Cohen. None at all.

Mr. Kennedy. You loaned him then on December 20, another $3,500
and on February 27, $2,500 ?

Mr. Cohen. The records are there, and whatever the records indi-
cate, that is all correct.

Mr. Kennedy. What was the reason for loaning him all of this
money, some $56,000, during the latter part of 1957 and all of 1958 ?

Mr. Cohen. Well, when I decided to go into his option deal on
Thomas, I knew that I would owe him $50,000, and that would have
to be paid to him, so I didn't worry about that money, because I knew
if I didn't get this money back I could apply it against the purchase
price.

Mr. Kennedy. But a considerable part of this was loaned to him
prior to June of 1958.

Mr. Cohen. Prior to when ?

Mr. Kennedy. To June of 1958.

Mr. Cohen. Yes; but I was discussing it, and I was out in the
Thomas store sometime the early part of March, and we talked
about it.

Mr. Kennedy. But you didn't exercise your option until November.
I don't understand why you, as a businessman, would loan all of this
money, some $56,000, to Mr. Dranow, and would exercise the option
in November of 1958 for $50,000, and then sell it 2 months later for
$1 dollar. It seems there is something peculiar about it. Doesn't it
seem peculiar to you ?

Mr. Cohen. It is not at all peculiar, because in the years of my
being in business for 30 years, I have had occasion to lend many
thousands of dollars to business people from time to time, and fortu-
nately most of it has been returned. There has been no problem there
whatsoever.

Some people we do business with, they need a little assistance, and
we help them, and sometimes they help us.

The Chairman. Here is the thing about it : By November you are
bound to have known that this stock wasn't any good, didn't you?

Mr. Cohen. What is that question ?

The Chairman. By November you knew that that stock you had
an option on, wasn't any good, didn't you ?

Mr. Cohen. No ; I can't say. I am sorry, the stock was good.



19012 IMPROPER ACTIVITIES IN THE LABOR FIELD

The Chairman. Wlien did you find out it wasn't good?

Mr. Cohen. I said the stock was good, and I didn't say it was no
good. It was no good to me but it was a very good purchase at that
price. It still is ; that is, at $50,000.

The Chairman. If it is a good purchase at $50,000, why did you
sell it for $1.

Mr. Cohen. Because I would have to invest an additional $1 mil-
lion in order to keep the store, and I felt that I didn't care to invest
an additional $1 million.

The Chairman. What did you want to give it away for ?

Mr. Cohen. I would have had to put up another $1 million. In
order to keep the stock I would have to put up another $1 million.

The Chairman. Was that in your option, and do you have it in the
option ?

Mr. Cohen. No, but that was a part of the deal.

The Chairman. You could have kept the stock, couldn't you, after
you bought it?

Mr. Cohen. I could have kept the stock without consummating the
entire deal, which called for about $1 million more.

The Chairman. Let me see a copy of that option.

Mr. Reed. Senator, this was in bankruptcy, in an arraignment pro-
ceeding in the court.

While you are asking him solely about his part of the purchase,
there was money that would have been required to complete a chapter
11 proceeding and there would have been money necessary to refi-
nance the store, which would involve this additional money that he
is now speaking of, and I think it is all referred to or a good part of it
is referred to in his agreement wherein he sold the stock.

The Chairman. Did you know that in November when you bought
the stock, when you exercised your option ?

Mr. Cohen. I did.

The Chairman. You knew all of that then ?

Mr. Cohen. No; at the very outset, I explained to Mr. Kennedy
that it was my intention to buy the real estate property, and lease
the store to an operating company. When I found out that I couldn't
get an operating company who would lease the store and I would
have to continue to operate it myself, and not being in the retail busi-
ness, I felt I would just lose additional money, so I decided to take
my first loss and get out.

The Chairman. Take a loss of $50,000 ?

Mr. Cohen. That is correct.

Mr. Kennedy. Mr. Benjamin Dranow is either the best salesman
or you are the most inept businessman. Here is January of 1958,
going back to that, on January 8, 1958, there is a check from the
Teamsters to Bon Bon Pillow Co., $5,000 from local 299. That is
your company, is it not ?

Mr. Cohen. Yes, sir.

Mr. Kennedy. And the check from the Teamsters Union for $5,000
to the Bon Bon Pillow Co., and then on the same day, January 8,
1958, a check to Benjamin Dranow for $3,500, from the Bon Bon
Pillow Co.

Mr. Cohen. Yes, sir.

Mr! Kennedy. What was that ?



IMPROPER ACTIVITIES IN THE LABOR FIELD 19013

Mr. Cohen. A loan.

Mr. Kennedy. Just a loan ?

Mr. Cohen. That is right.

Mr. Kennedy. Now, with the rest of the loans that you made during
this period of time, were they made directly to Mr. Benjamin Dranow ?

Mr. Cohen. Some to Dranow and some given to Banner Mercantile.

Mr. Kennedy. And did any of the money go to any third party who
in turn gave it to Mr. Benjamin Dranow ?

Mr. Cohen. Not that I know of.

Mr. Kennedy. Did you make any checks out to your son-in-law?

Mr. Cohen. '\Anien I wasn't in town, I might have told my son-in-
law to give him his check and I reimbursed him.

Mr. Kennedy. Why did the money go to Banner Mercantile &
Supply Co.?

Mr. Cohen. Well, Mr. Dranow thought that if he went into a
regular manufacturing business, and purchased various materials,
rather than buy things on a commisison basis, he would have a better
arrangement than he had up to then.

Mr. Kennedy. How much money did you give to them ?

Mr. Cohen. I opened up a company that would do this manufac-
turing and it would be very profitable.

Mr. Kennedy. What was that called ?

Mr. Cohen. Banner Mercantile.

Mr. Kennedy. What were they going to manufacture ?

Mr. Cohen. Various sundry items.

Mr. Kennedy. Like what ?

Mr. Cohen. Well, he told me they were going to try to manufacture
shirts and pants.

Mr. Kennedy. For whom ?

Mr. Cohen. Various items like cuff links and various things that
he felt he could sell.

Mr. Kennedy. For whom were they going to manufacture them?

Mr. Cohen. Who was he going to sell them to, you mean ?

Mr. Kennedy. Yes.

Mr. Cohen. I have a very good idea that he had intentions to sell
it to the Teamsters.

Mr. Kennedy. How much did you invest in that company ?

Mr. Cohen. Approximately $25,000.



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