Leslie Patricia Bell found out the price of stealing from a union treasury: 18 months in federal prison, three years probation, and $156,423 in restitution. Bell, 39, had pleaded guilty last May to charges she embezzled funds from Local 1184 of the Laborers International Union of North America, which represents construction, groundskeeping and maintenance workers in Riverside and San Bernardino Counties. Bell had been responsible for paying union bills and depositing membership dues at the union’s local office in Riverside. Her thefts began in May 2001 and lasted until her firing in July 2003. Most of Bell’s haul took the form of membership dues paid in cash. She also admitted forging the name of her then-husband, the union president, on two checks totaling $22,028. She used the money to pay off credit card debt and federal taxes, according to her plea bargain. Bell’s ex-husband was not accused of any wrongdoing. (City News Service, 4/10/06).
Man, Two Women Charged with Theft from Cincinnati Local
On March 30, Michael Griffie was charged in Hamilton County (Ohio) Court of Common Pleas with aggravated theft of property or services worth at least $100,000 from Local 212 of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers. He also was charged with tampering with market recovery fund forms and forging such forms for the purpose of defrauding the union. In addition, two women, Charlene Monroe and Rachetta Johnson, were charged with theft of property or services from Local 212 in an amount of at least $5,000. Like Griffie, they also were charged with tampering with and forging market recovery fraud forms to commit fraud. The charges follow an investigation by the Labor Department’s Office of Labor-Management Standards (OLMS), Cincinnati District Office. (OLMS, 4/12/06).
Wisconsin Police Union Director Sentenced for Embezzlement
Crime doesn’t pay, even for people who run police unions. On March 31, Stanley Kluss, former executive director of the Wisconsin Professional Police Association, was sentenced in U.S. District Court to one year and three months in prison, plus three years of supervised release, for embezzlement from the union over a three-year period. The Madison-based WPPA represents about 11,000 officers in 400 municipalities. Kluss, 64, a resident of Crandon in the far northern part of the state, pleaded guilty in January to stealing $95,048 during 2001-04; he’d run the association since 1986. Kluss, prosecutors argued, had charged unauthorized personal expenses on the union’s credit cards; obtained cash advances on these cards; submitted false mileage reimbursement claims; and received unauthorized vacation and pension payments. In addition to serving time, he is required to make restitution. (Wisconsin State Journal, 4/1/06).
Southern California Teacher Arrested for Role in Thefts
The arrest this March of Ava Shaw, former president of the San Gabriel Teachers Association (SGTA), is having a ripple effect. On Tuesday afternoon, April 4, one of Shaw’s fellow teachers, Jennifer Kathryn Boyd, was called out of class at Wilson Elementary School to the principal’s office and subsequently arrested by San Gabriel police. Boyd, 34, is accused of pocketing $2,425 worth of checks during February-September 2002 written to her by Shaw, who was arrested for embezzling $83,000 over a more than three-year period. The SGTA is affiliated with the National Education Association. (Pasadena Star-News, 4/7/06).
Ex-Local Official in Philadelphia Area Pleads Guilty
On March 29, Kevin Kulp, former vice president and benefits administrator for Iron Workers Local 61, pled guilty in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania to embezzling $21,888 from an employee benefit plan. The guilty plea follows a joint investigation by the Labor Department’s OLMS and Employee Benefits Security Administration. (OLMS, 4/12/06).
Louisville Secretary Pleads Guilty to Theft
On March 27, Joseph J. Brady, ex-financial secretary for Steelworkers of America Local 1693, pleaded guilty in the Commonwealth of Kentucky, Jefferson Circuit Court, to one count of theft of unions funds and was ordered to pay $11,000 in restitution. (OLMS, 4/12/06).
Former Treasurer in Pennsylvania Sentenced
On March 22, Rosemary Zwetkof-Ryan, former treasurer for Local 717 of the Jersey Nurses Economic Security Organization, was sentenced in U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Pennsylvania to three years probation and six months home confinement with a work-commute exception. She also was ordered to pay restitution to the local in the amount of $18,359.77. She had pleaded guilty in December to making false entries in union records. The sentencing follows an investigation by the Labor Department. (OLMS, 4/12/06).
Ex-Secretary of Memphis Local Sentenced for Thefts
On March 17, Kathy Jacobsen, formerly secretary-treasurer for International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees Local 69, was sentenced in U.S. District Court for the Western District of Tennessee to one year of probation, including six months of home detention. She had been indicted last August on one count of embezzling $10,000 in union funds and one count of making false entries in union records. (OLMS, 4/12/06).
South Dakota Business Manager Pleads Guilty to Concealment
On March 30, David Pirrung, former financial secretary and business manager of Bricklayers Local 1, pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court for the District of South Dakota to a superseding information count charging him with concealment of union financial records. Pirrung had been indicted in January for embezzling approximately $3,000 in union funds. (OLMS, 4/12/06).
Former Office Manager in Eastern Kentucky Sentenced
On March 28, Phyllis Ann Pack, ex-office manager for the Kentucky District Council of Carpenters, was sentenced in U.S. District Court to one year of probation and ordered to pay a $500 fine and a $100 assessment. She had pleaded guilty last December to one count of embezzling $3,349 in union funds. (OLMS, 4/12/06).
Local Boss in Pennsylvania Charged with False Record-Keeping
On March 8, Brian Druckemiller, former president of Local 1936 of the United Brotherhood of Carpenters and Joiners, was charged with an information count in U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Pennsylvania for making false entries in union records. (OLMS, 4/12/06).