Broward County union boss Walter Browne and his sister, Patricia Devaney, were convicted on June 2 of running the Natl. Fdtn. of Public & Private Employees (NFPPE) as an organized crime enterprise. The 3rd time proved to be the charm for fed. prosecutors. In 1996, Browne pled guilty to a misdemeanor charge of mail tampering to allegedly rig a 1988 union vote, and accepted a brief suspension from the union. In 1993, Browne was acquitted by a judge of federal mail fraud charges in Ft. Lauderdale.
Jury foreman John Sprague said that this time the jurors were convinced by thousands of pages of receipts and financial records that the brother-and-sister team had: embezzled hundreds of thousands of dollars from the NFPPE and the Marine Engineers Beneficial Assn. and: raked in nearly $500,000 in “consulting fees” from employers in exchange for Browne keeping his union away from them.
Both Browne and Devaney were found guilty of violating the Racketeering, Influenced & Corrupt Organizations (RICO) Act. Browne was convicted of violating the Taft-Hartley Act by taking the employers’ payments, mail fraud, and failing to maintain expense records. Devaney was found guilty of embezzling $116,000, bank fraud, mail fraud, and failing to maintain expense and payroll records to cover up her poker-playing at the union’s HQ.
Browne will be forced from his union positions under the Landrum-Griffin Act. He and Devaney could be sentenced by U.S. Dist. Judge Jose Martinez (S. FL, G.W. Bush) on Aug. 18 to 40 yrs. each in prison for their RICO violations. [U.S.A.O., S.D., FL, 6/2/04: Ft. Lauderdale Sun-Sentinel, 6/3/04]