In an eight-page letter to Gannett chairman, president and chief executive officer John J. Curley, Teamsters general president Ron Carey demanded investigations by the Gannett board and an independent auditor into the chain's reaction to the 1994 announcement that Vega had paid $98,334 to settle Securities and Exchange Commission charges relating to his role in illegal insider stock trading of an upstate New York bank.
Responding to a Gannett attorney's statement that the company's response to Vega's "alleged conduct was swift, decisive and not in the least tolerant," Carey said the fact that Vega "remains trusted with managing one of Gannett's largest investments, the (DNA)" shows that "the sanctions Gannett has imposed fall limply at the base of the alleged monumental conspiracy."
Carey also faulted Gannett for its investigation into the activities of Thomas J. Farrell, the former USA Today vice president and general manager who the SEC charged with masterminding the insider stock trading. Gannett fired Farrell in January.
"I respectfully believe that the questions . . . deserve direct attention of the board and the recreation of an independent audit committee," Carey wrote. "A look at just a few of the publicly available records raises questions of whether these Gannett executives squandered Gannett shareholder assets for the purpose of indulging personal leisures, as well as abused the shareholders of a Rochester financial institution."
Gannett Co. spokeswoman Sheila Gibbons said the company is referring all questions related to the Detroit Newspaper Agency to that agency.
Susie Ellwood, DNA's vice president for market development, said the agency is standing by Vega's contention that "it's a personal matter and it has no bearing on his position with the agency."
Vega himself responded to an earlier letter by Carey, raising many of the same issues, by saying, "I find it interesting that a union, under the oversight of the federal government for its criminally corrupt history, is attempting to cast stones."
By: Mark Fitzgerald THE TEAMSTERS UNION ? with about 1,000 of its members on strike at Detroit's two dailies ? is continuing to seek the ouster of Gannett Co. executive Frank Vega as the head of the agency that runs Gannett's Detroit News and Knight-Ridder Inc.'s Detroit Free Press.