Illinois Boss Admits $470,000 Theft, Racketeering

Frank B. Zeuberis, ex-boss of Laborers’ Int’l Union of N. Am. Local 5 in Chicago Hts., Ill., pled guilty June 18 to a federal racketeering charge and admitted that he embezzled $470,106 in union funds. The ex-president and business manager admitted that he gave himself, his wife and James A. DiForti unauthorized and fraudulent salary increases, bonuses, and paid vacations. DiForti was a reputed mob lieutenant who Zeuberis appointed as Local 5’s secretary-treasurer. Zeuberis also admitted that he solicited $5,000 to appoint a union member as a business agent. The wife was not charged, and DiForti died in June 2000. Zeuberis faces up to 42 months in prison when he is sentenced Oct. 18. Zeuberis was indicted on 28 counts in Nov. 2000. [Chi. Trib. 6/19/01, BNA 6/21/01]

AFL-CIO
New Hampshire Embezzler Sentenced to One Year
U.S.  Dist. Judge Joseph DiClerico sentence “longtime labor activist” and ex-N.H. AFL-CIO secretary-treasurer Daniel Courchesne May 8 to 12 months in federal prison for embezzling union funds, possibly to cover gambling debts. Reportedly, Courchesne stole approximately $127,000, but no precise total was given at the sentencing hearing. Courchesne, who pled guilty to one count of wire fraud in Nov. 2000, put some cash back into union accounts thereby allegedly netting $53,150.

Asst. U.S. Atty. William Morse said Courchesne got a stiff sentence because he took funds as an elected official who held a private financial trust. The wire fraud charge carries an 8 to 14 month sentence, but because of his capacity as a union official, sentencing guidelines provide for 12 to 18 months. After prison, Courchesne will be on supervised release for three years. DiClerico did not fine Courchesne but ordered him to pay restitution.

DiClerico also ordered the boss to undergo counseling for gambling and pay for the treatment himself. Bankruptcy records show that Courchesne owed money on 24 credit cards. He listed $404,842 in total liabilities and $194,603 in assets. His annual household income was about $62,000. He and his wife filed for bankruptcy protection on Dec. 18.

The funds diverted to Courchesne’s personal accounts included dues and fees from labor organizations and subsidies from the national AFL-CIO. He deposited funds coming into N.H. AFL-CIO’s office in Concord into a personal account and into an account in the name of DPC Assocs., a firm that he controlled. He claimed the money was for legitimate lobbying expenses. Two signatures were needed to withdraw AFL-CIO funds; he used another boss’ stamp to make withdrawals. Also, he transferred funds to the N.H. Cent. Labor Council in Manchester where he was authorized to withdraw funds on his own.

N.H. AFL-CIO president Mark MacKenzie said he that he was ignorant of Courchesne’s heavy gambling or “any other afflictions.” MacKenzie discovered money was missing when he introduced new auditing regime last year.

David Lang, Prof’l Firefighters of N.H.’s  secretary-treasurer, said he was saddened that a career unionist had taken a wrong turn, for whatever reasons. Dennis Adams, business manager of United Ass’n of Plumbers & Pipefitters Local 131 and ex-president of the N.H. Bldg. Trades Council, said, “This is not right,” and said he hoped Courchesne could pay back the money. Conditions of release require Courchesne to give probation officials access to all financial records. If he receives any lottery winnings, inheritances or other windfalls, he must use the proceeds to pay restitution. [Union Leader (Manchester, N.H.) 5/9/01]