Padma Lakshmi: Teamsters Charged With Extorting 'Top Chef' Staff
Padma Lakshmi: Teamsters Charged With Extorting 'Top Chef' Staff

Padma Lakshmi: Teamsters Charged With Extorting ‘Top Chef’ Staff

Padma Lakshmi, the Indian born host of “Top Chef,” and her crew were on the receiving end of a hellish protest held by a teamsters union while filming in Boston last year, but now they are getting the last laugh.

Five Boston-based members of the Teamsters have been indicted for allegedly threatening a production company filming Bravo’s “Top Chef” in Boston.

The indictment says members of Teamsters Local 25 demanded that union members be hired as drivers. When the producer said they had already hired their employees, the Teamsters warned that they would follow the crew and picket, prompting the Omni Parker House to cancel filming there.

The Teamsters also are accused of yelling profanities and racial and homophobic slurs at host Padma Lakshmi and the crew while they filmed at a Milton restaurant.

“The indictment alleges that a group of rogue Teamsters employed old school thug tactics to get no-work jobs from an out of town production company,” U.S. Attorney Carmen Ortiz said in a statement accompanying the indictment. “In the course of this alleged conspiracy, they managed to chase a legitimate business out of the City of Boston and then harassed the cast and crew when they set up shop in Milton. This kind of conduct reflects poorly on our city and must be addressed for what it is — not union organizing, but criminal extortion.”

Local 25 President Sean O’Brien did not immediately return a call seeking comment. O’Brien previously denied that any Teamsters had harassed crew members, calling the accusations “fiction at best.”

A lawyer for Mark Harrington, one of the accused Teamsters, said his client denies the allegations.

“His only conduct was to exercise his lawful right to protest a company that was not maintaining area standards of wages and benefits,” said attorney Rob Goldstein.

Lawyers for the other men didn’t immediately return calls seeking comment.

The men indicted are: Mark Harrington, 61, of Andover; John Fidler, 51, of Holbrook; Daniel Redmond, 47, of Medford; and Robert Cafarelli, 45, of Middleton.

Richard Jeffrey, 55, of Woburn, was also indicted originally, but charges against him were dropped late Wednesday.

The men are due to appear in U.S. District Court on Wednesday afternoon.


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