For nearly a half decade Marcia Huizenga thought nobody would figure out how all those extra paychecks managed to get cashed. But in the end somebody did figure it out. Huizenga, 48, formerly bookkeeper for Teamsters Local 822, pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court on November 4 to embezzling more than $47,000 in union funds. A routine audit by the local discovered that from January 1999 to August 2003 she had prepared and cashed 77 extra paychecks for her own personal use. Huizenga did not dispute the charge when confronted with the evidence. Local 822 represents about 2,000 meat cutters, barbers, warehouse workers and other tradesmen in the Virginia Tidewater area. (Associated Press, 11/5).
Niagara Falls Menace Sentenced; He’s in Good Company
The halls of justice have claimed another member of LIUNA Local 91’s criminal old guard that for a good half-dozen years … Read More ➡
Marilyn Constable must be an incurable optimist. The suburban Pittsburgh woman in late September was indicted by a federal grand jury on 15 counts of embezzlement. Ms. Constable, 45, allegedly wrote out a dozen illegal checks totaling more than $7,500 from a death-benefits fund for members of Local 12 of the Bakery, Confectionery, Tobacco Workers and Grain Millers union. She has pleaded not guilty. The union, which represented employees at a now-closed Nabisco plant and elsewhere, since has merged into BC&T Local 19 in Cleveland.
The indictment charged that Constable, as the fund administrator, diverted local funds for rent, cable TV, and other personal expenses. Additionally, she was named last year in an ongoing Labor Department civil complaint seeking restitution. The suit also named as defendants Local 19, two banks and several union and bakery industry officials who acted as trustees. (Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, 10/26).… Read More ➡
On October 21, William Good Jr., ex-financial secretary-treasurer of Local Lodge 821 of the International Association of Machinists, pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court for the Central District of California to two counts of embezzling union funds totaling $192,469. The guilty plea follows an investigation by the Labor Department’s Office of Labor-Management Standards and Office of Inspector General. (OLMS, 11/10).
Ex-Treasurer in Maryland Sentenced, Ordered to Pay Restitution
On October 18, Steven R. Fairfax, formerly secretary-treasurer of Branch 3939 of the National Association of Letter Carriers, was sentenced in U.S. District Court for the District of Maryland to five years of probation and 10 months of home confinement for embezzlement of union funds. He also will have to make restitution to the union in the amount of $53,990.04. He had been indicted this March. The sentencing follows an investigation by the Department … Read More ➡
It usually takes more than a prison sentence to impress a career criminal to go straight, especially for someone in the Mafia. If and when released, it’s a fair bet he’ll continue doing the things that got him sent away in the first place. If the pattern holds, the next few years should see a large batch of familiar faces back in action. An unpublished federal document has revealed the names of dozens of currently imprisoned mobsters due for imminent release. Among their friends on the outside, especially in the New York City area, are crooked labor unions.
In an interagency memo, the U.S. Bureau of Prisons alerted the FBI to roughly 80 mobsters and associates set for release from prison by the start of 2007. The list, compiled this July, ought to serve as a reality check for those believing that the Mob, despite numerous recent setbacks, is on … Read More ➡
Peter Gotti (in photo) may not get the press enjoyed by his late younger brother, Gambino crime boss John Gotti. But as his successor to the family business, even if from a federal prison cell following racketeering and money-laundering convictions, Peter Gotti is every bit as versed in the art of putting the fear of God in a witness. A convicted Gambino family soldier, Primo Cassarino, personally can vouch for that. Another mobster, Genovese family capo Lawrence Ricci, isn’t talking – he recently “disappeared.”
Cassarino, 49, was convicted along with Gotti, and Gambino family captain Anthony “Sonny” Ciccone, back in March 2003 for shaking down action-film star Steven Seagal, among other offenses. Now serving a 135-month sentence for racketeering and money-laundering, Cassarino has decided to play for the Justice Department’s team. His October 18 testimony in a Brooklyn federal court in the trial of two ranking International Longshoremen Association (ILA) … Read More ➡
The going rate is 2 percent – the rate, that is, of buying labor peace in New York City. It’s known colloquially as a ‘mob tax.’ In this scheme, a builder receiving a local or state government contract pays a mob-controlled union to look the other way in order to hire non-union help, and pockets the difference at taxpayers’ expense. Should the contractor cut corners on materials quality or workplace safety standards, well…it’s someone else’s problem. That’s the damning conclusion of a three-part series published in the New York Daily News in late September. Reporter Greg B. Smith spent four months piecing together how an unholy alliance of corrupt contractors, mobsters, unions and (by implication) government officials has raised the cost of providing public amenities, often at substandard quality and with extensive delays.
To many, the mob tax might seem the … Read More ➡
Janice R. Hughes turned out to be someone who couldn’t be trusted – ironic, considering she and her partner had been ripping off a union trust fund for a half-decade. On September 23, the Justice Department announced that Hughes, 68, a resident of Easton, Maryland, had pleaded guilty in federal court to six counts of bank fraud, five counts of mail fraud and two counts of money laundering. Back in March a grand jury had indicted Hughes and Gilbert A. Wolf, 72, for defrauding their former employer, the National Plastering Industry’s Joint Apprenticeship Trust Fund, and a pair of federal agencies, of at least $917,000 during 1995-2000.
Hughes was the office manager of the fund, a non-profit training organization run by the Operative Plasterers and Cement Masons International Association (OP & CMIA). Wolf had served as its executive director. The fund provided pre-apprenticeship career training for low-income youths … Read More ➡
Jeffrey Olson owed serious money to his credit cards and the IRS. Unfortunately, to cover those debts, the 58-year-old high school math teacher in Belfast, Maine embezzled from his teachers’ union local. Olson until recently had served as treasurer of SAD 34 Education Association, an affiliate of the National Education Association. On October 18 he turned himself into local authorities after a months-long investigation. According to Belfast Police Chief Jeffrey Trafton, Olson admitted to tapping union funds for years. “He has cooperated completely and fully with the investigation,” Trafton added. Investigators and auditors determined that Olson had removed about $150,000 in union funds over the previous six years, acknowledging that he managed to repay $91,000. But that still leaves roughly $60,000 to go.
As treasurer, Olson had sole control over teacher union dues deductions. The case emerged after Betty Lu Brown, a secretary at Belfast Area High School, … Read More ➡
Stephen Laffey, mayor of Cranston, Rhode Island, believes in his city. Armed with a combination of street smarts, populism and a Harvard M.B.A., for almost three years he’s been putting this heavily working-class community of about 80,000 on the road to sound fiscal footing. But certain local labor bosses are determined to make his job as difficult as possible.
Laffey, 43, and a Republican, was first elected mayor in this traditionally Democratic stronghold in 2002. Upon his taking office the following January, Cranston’s bond rating was the lowest of any U.S. city; bankruptcy loomed. Reluctantly, Laffey persuaded the city council to raise taxes. In return, he won spending concessions, including cutting costs of labor-intensive activities inflated by the demands of public-employees unions. “We were paying unionized crossing guards the equivalent of $129 per hour,” he recalls. “We had to do … Read More ➡
In South Korea, labor corruption makes headlines. Less visibly, it makes them here, too. On October 20, the entire leadership of that country’s largest and most powerful labor federation, the Korean Confederation of Trade Unions (KCTU), resigned in response to protests among its rank and file over scandals among senior officials. The organization, with roughly 620,000 members belonging to nearly 750 unions, increasingly has been prone to economic militancy and anti-American sentiment in its ranks. “The current leadership did everything it could to reinvigorate the labor movement through various internal reforms,” said KCTU President Lee Su-ho in his resignation speech. “But we have decided to step down because of aggravated infighting between union reforms.”
The federation was rocked by the arrest several weeks ago of its vice-president, Kang Seung-kyu, for allegedly taking $78,000 in bribes from taxi businesses in return for … Read More ➡