Detroit Operating Engineers Boss Sentenced for Extortion

A decade ago, John Hamilton was a powerful labor leader. Now he’s about to experience the power of incarceration. Last Wednesday, March 14, Hamilton, former business manager and general vice president of International Union of Operating Engineers Local 324, was sentenced in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan to two years in prison for conspiring to commit extortion with at least two other Local 324 officials. He also was ordered to pay $250,000 in restitution to the people he shook down. Hamilton had been convicted last August after being indicted on nine counts for extortion, embezzlement and other offenses. The actions follow an investigation by the FBI, the IRS and the U.S. Labor Department’s Office of Inspector General and Employee Benefits Security Administration.

According to federal prosecutors, Hamilton, now 63, for the last few years a resident of Ocala, Fla., had demanded that business agents and members … Read More ➡

Civilian Technicians Secretary in Alaska Charged with Embezzlement

In mid-February, Timothy Smith, former secretary-treasurer for Association of Civilian Technicians Chapter 84, was charged in Anchorage federal court with embezzling more than $80,000 in funds from the union, which represents personnel at Elmendorf-Richardson Joint Air Force Base. The charge follows an investigation by the U.S. Labor Department’s Office of Labor-Management Standards.… Read More ➡

Treasurer of Wisconsin Deputy Sheriffs Union Charged with Theft

Joel Wagner took liberties with his union expense account once too often. On January 16, Wagner, treasurer of the Dane County Sheriff’s Association, was charged in Wisconsin state circuit court with two counts of theft and six counts of misrepresentation in the disappearance of about $10,000 in funds from the Madison-based union. Though Wagner had retired from the sheriff’s office early last year, the association had begun to probe his handling of finances in 2016. Wagner’s lawyer, Chris Van Wagner, says that Wagner is prepared to reimburse the union for “every dime that he had taken.”

According to the complaint, Joel Wagner, now 54, a resident of Sun Prairie, Wisc., engaged in acts of theft between sometime in 2011 and May 2016. By the latter year, after leaving his union post, union leaders had grown suspicious. Wagner’s successor, Greg Leatherberry, along with union president John Cahill, asked Wagner several times … Read More ➡

Seattle-Area Corrections Officer Charged with Embezzlement

Mike Music is a corrections officer. He soon may be an inmate. This past December, Music, a corrections officer with the King County (Wash.) Corrections Guild, was charged in King County Court with embezzling a little over $1,300 from his union, where he had served as treasurer. Yet the alleged sum is a pittance compared to the $150,000 that he and four other former members of the Tukwila (near Seattle)-based guild had been accused in 2016 of stealing. Music pleaded not guilty at his arraignment on January 8. The charge follows an 18-month investigation by Tukwila police.

According to prosecutors, Music, now 49, a resident of Tacoma and a 21-year veteran of the King County Corrections Department, made a series of suspicious transactions during late 2014 through September 2015 and which may have begun earlier than that. That’s because he had help from four other union members who, like him, … Read More ➡

Can Trump Drain the Swamp at the Bureau of Indian Affairs?

If ever a federal agency was ripe for termination, the Bureau of Indian Affairs should qualify for consideration. The bureau has a justly-earned reputation as a patronage machine for tribal leaders and their cronies. The Trump administration has been emphasizing its intent to reform the agency. Tribal sovereignty, the product of several 19th-century treaties, is a fact of life. But there are ways of “draining the swamp” that would not require abrogating any treaties.

The Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA), created in 1824 and housed under the Department of the Interior since 1849, has much to manage with its current $2.5 billion annual budget. There are 567 federally-recognized Indian and Alaska Native tribes representing about two million persons. Many live on reservations comprising 55.7 million acres. Each tribe elects its own sovereign government to oversee such activities as courts, schools, job training, health care, infrastructure and gambling casinos.

This … Read More ➡

Builder Sues NYC Unions for $100M+ Hudson Yards Ripoff

Union corruption long has contributed to cost overruns on urban real estate projects, especially in New York City where developers tend to think big. But area labor leaders now are getting some well-deserved comeuppance. On Monday, March 5, Related Companies, the general contractor of the Hudson Yards mega-development on Manhattan’s West Side, sued the Building and Construction Trades Council of Greater New York and its president, Gary LaBarbera, in State Supreme Court for actions that allegedly inflated costs by over $100 million. The defendants, reads the suit, were “condoning, if not actively participating in, various corrupt practices.” Allegations include tortious interference, time sheet fraud and wage fraud, the latter offense highlighted by a scam in which two union members received a wage of over $40 an hour for fetching coffee. Nice work if you can get it.

The Hudson Yards, a mixed-use complex under construction made possible through the … Read More ➡

Secretary of Boilermakers Local in SE Virginia Sentenced

On February 15, Tamika Bullock, former secretary-treasurer of International Brotherhood of Boilermakers Local 684, was sentenced in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia to 14 months in prison for embezzling $24,600 from the Chesapeake-based union. Bullock, now 39, a resident of Portsmouth, had pleaded guilty last November after being indicted in June. Most of the stolen money had come from the union’s “sick and distressed” account. The actions follow a probe by the U.S. Labor Department’s Office of Labor-Management Standards.… Read More ➡

Former Director of LSC-Funded Alabama Program Sentenced

Kelli Hogue Mauro gave legal advice free of charge. Unfortunately, she wound up needing some legal advice of her own. Last September 20, Mauro, former executive director of the Birmingham (Ala.) Volunteer Lawyers Program, was sentenced in U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Tennessee to five years of probation and five years of home confinement for embezzling more than $35,000 from the program, which is partly funded by Legal Services Corporation. She also will have to pay residual restitution in the amount of $10,228.32 and a fine of $10,000. Mauro had pleaded guilty in April after being charged two days earlier that month in an information count. The actions follow an investigation by LSC’s Office of Inspector General.

According to prosecutors, Mauro, now 48, a resident of Birmingham, during January 1, 2012-August 31, 2012 conducted about 100 separate transactions totaling $35,116 that benefited herself and her family. The Read More ➡

IBEW Secretary in Michigan Sentenced for $300K+ Embezzlement

For about three years, Stephanie DeBoer stole from her union. She may be lucky her sentence won’t last much longer than that. On February 20, DeBoer, former office manager and bookkeeper for International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local 876, was sentenced in U.S. District Court for the Western District of Michigan to four years in prison for embezzling $307,563 from the Edmore (Montcalm County), Mich.-based union. She also will have to undergo probation following release and make full restitution. DeBoer had pleaded guilty last November after being indicted in May. The actions follow an investigation by the Labor Department’s Office of Labor-Management Standards.

According to court records, DeBoer, a resident of Cedar Springs, Mich., from sometime in 2012 until September 2015 embezzled funds from the union by writing unauthorized checks to herself and others, making unauthorized payroll deposits, making unauthorized purchases and using union funds to pay off credit card … Read More ➡

Corporations Paying for Employee Protest: Does the Tail Wag the Dog?

There’s nothing unusual about a corporation offering employees paid leave for vacations, illness or personal emergencies. That’s a fact of the modern workplace. But lately employers have begun to provide a far less justifiable benefit: paid leave for social justice activism. Very often, employees themselves, backed by social media mobs, demand that management take stands on gun control, global warming, immigration and other major issues. And these shakedowns can result in the termination of less than compliant executives. It’s another example of why business should not be a vehicle for political advocacy.

The Left always has been resourceful in building cadres. And the workplace has become the new frontier. Not that many companies aren’t already on board with this. At Luxe, a San Francisco-based valet parking smart phone app, founder and CEO Curtis Lee, angered over President Trump’s January 2017 executive order temporarily barring entry into the U.S. … Read More ➡