Buffalo-Area Operating Engineers Ex-President Sentenced for Racketeering

operating-engineers-logoIt took years, but Mark Kirsch finally reaped what he sowed. On August 31, Kirsch, former president and business manager of International Union of Operating Engineers (IUOE) Local 17, was sentenced in U.S. District Court for the Western District of New York to three years in prison and ordered to pay $184,000 in restitution to two contractors for his role in running the Buffalo-area union as a criminal enterprise. For about 10 years, Kirsch and certain union members and business agents vandalized nonunion sites. And they didn’t hesitate to assault or threaten workers at these sites. Kirsch had been convicted by a jury in March 2014, a trial that saw four other Local 17 members acquitted. The case was made possible by a five-year probe by the FBI, the Labor Department and the New York State Police.

Union Corruption Update has described this case more than once. Federal and state … Read More ➡

President of Alabama CWA Local Indicted for Embezzlement

cwa-logoFor more than four years, Michael Lackey used his union as a personal ATM machine. It appears that the machine is now out of order. On November 30, Lackey, former president of Communications Workers of America Local 3901, was indicted on nine counts in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Alabama related to his stealing funds from the Oxford, Ala.-based union in an amount of nearly $70,000 and then concealing the thefts. The indictment follows an investigation by the U.S. Labor Department’s Office of Labor-Management Standards.

According to prosecutors, Lackey, 43, a resident of Bremen, Ga., used his position as president of CWA Local 3901 during February 2010-October 2014 to divert local funds to his own personal use. The money went for “unauthorized or nonexistent travel expenses, using debit cards he obtained on accounts for the local at both Regions and Wells Fargo for personal expenses, and making … Read More ➡

Texas Pharmacist Pleads Guilty to Making $800K+ in Kickbacks

benefit-fraudThe fallout from the Texas health benefit scam continues. On December 14, Brian Haney, part-owner of a Vidor, Texas pharmacy, pleaded guilty in Austin federal court to a two-count information for bribery and tax fraud in connection with his payment of more than $800,000 in kickbacks to Garry Craighead, operator of a chain of physical rehab clinics across the state. The kickbacks were in exchange for referrals by Craighead to participating pharmacies, which inflated prescription prices based on Worker’s Compensation claims. The scam cost the Department of Labor nearly $18 million. The case followed an investigation by the FBI, IRS, U.S. Army, U.S. Postal Service and U.S. Labor Department’s Office of Inspector General. A sentencing date has yet to be set.

Brian Haney, now 37, was part-owner of a pharmacy in the southeast Texas community of Vidor. According to prosecutors, he did more than simply run a business. During November … Read More ➡

Chicago Laborers Contractor Pleads Guilty to Benefit Fraud, Wage Theft

liuna logoRipping off union benefits is big business. In the case of Yashvant Patel, that wasn’t even half the story. On August 11, Patel, a Chicago-based contractor, pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois to mail fraud and financial concealment in connection with defrauding employees out of about $600,000 scheduled benefits and $1.3 million in wages. Many if not most of the shortchanged workers were residing illegally in this country. Patel had sought to escape the terms of a bargaining agreement with affiliates of the Laborers International Union of North America. He was arrested in May 2015 and indicted by a grand jury that August on four counts each of mail fraud and false statements. The actions follow a joint probe by the FBI and the Labor Department’s Office of Inspector General.

Yashvant Patel, now in his early 60s, a resident of St. Charles, Ill., owned … Read More ➡

Utility Workers President in Wyoming Pleads Guilty to Embezzlement

utility-workers-logoGiven the sum that he took, Harold Gilberson should consider himself lucky. On November 29, Gilberson, former president of Utility Workers Union of America Local 127, pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court for the District of Wyoming to embezzling $179,052 in funds from the Casper-based union. The local represents employees at three Wyoming power plants, and associated transmission lines, owned by PacificCorp. The charge and guilty plea follow an investigation by the U.S. Labor Department’s Office of Labor-Management Standards.

Harold Gilberson, now 63, an employee at a power plant near Rock Springs, had served as president of Utility Workers Local 127 during 2002-15. During the last four years of this period, he allegedly charged a large number of personal items to his union credit card and then falsified union expense reports to conceal the thefts. Eventually, a Labor Department probe revealed that the fund shortfall was the result of his … Read More ➡

Auto Workers President in Indiana Pleads Guilty to Fraud

united-auto-workers-logoMichael Bennett wrote lots of checks to himself. And his union unknowingly picked up the tab until it realized what was going on. On November 21, Bennett, former president of United Auto Workers Local 2317, pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Indiana to one count of wire fraud in excess of $100,000 against the Lafayette, Ind.-based union. He had been indicted this August. The actions follow an investigation by the U.S. Labor Department’s Office of Labor-Management Standards.

UAW Local 2317 represents about 700 employees at the Fairfield Manufacturing plant in Lafayette. According to federal prosecutors, Bennett, who headed the union during 2006-15, forged the signature of the local treasurer on about 170 checks to cover nonexistent “travel expenses.” Having forged the checks, he either cashed them or deposited them into his own account. He also rented out the union hall for outside functions, but without … Read More ➡

Washington, D.C. AFGE Secretary Pleads Guilty to Theft

afge logo_0On November 22, Wanda Rosenboro-Correa, former secretary-treasurer of American Federation of Government Employees Local 2798, pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia to one count of theft of funds from the Washington, D.C. union in the amount of $13,803.  She had been indicted in August.  The actions follow an investigation by the U.S. Labor Department’s Office of Labor-Management Standards.… Read More ➡

Upstate New York Electrical Workers Boss Pleads Guilty to Fraud

ibewlogoOn November 17, Brian Scott, former president and business manager of International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local 503, pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York to one count of mail fraud against the Monroe (Orange County), N.Y.-based union. He had been hit with a superseding indictment in August on one count each of embezzlement, mail fraud and false reporting following his arrest in February and an earlier indictment the previous October. Scott, now a resident of Miami Beach, Fla., had been accused of making unauthorized charges from union accounts totaling $66,954 during the period July 2008-February 2012. The actions follow an investigation by the U.S. Labor Department’s Office of Labor-Management Standards.… Read More ➡

Ex-President of Illinois Auto Workers Local Pleads Guilty

united-auto-workers-logoOn November 10, Bob Buford, former president of United Auto Workers Local 2419, pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court for the Central District of Illinois to one count of mail fraud in the amount of more than $128,000 against the Danville, Ill.-based union. He had been indicted this March following a probe by the U.S. Labor Department’s Office of Labor-Management Standards. Local 2419 represents workers at the Danville assembly plant of FreightCar America.… Read More ➡

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