Plumbers Office Manager in Arkansas Pleads Guilty to $400K+ Ripoff

For more than a decade, Jeni May Hughes managed to avoid detection. Her main concern now is whether she will be able to repay the towering sum of money that she stole. Last Wednesday, on May 10, Hughes, former office manager for United Association of Plumbers and Pipefitters Local 155, pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Arkansas to embezzling more than $400,000 from the Little Rock-based union. She had been charged in a one-count information on April 10 following an investigation by the Labor Department’s Office of Labor Management Standards. She faces up to five years in prison and a $10,000 fine.

According to federal prosecutors, Hughes, a resident of Jacksonville (Pulaski County), Ark., during January 2005-March 2016 diverted union funds to her own personal use. At the time of the charge, the missing amount was unspecified. Her plea deal, however, indicated the figure to … Read More ➡

Iowa Dairy Workers President Pleads Guilty to Embezzlement

On May 8, Curtis Lang, former president of United Dairy Workers of Le Mars, pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court for the District of Northern Iowa, to one count of embezzling funds from the Le Mars (near Sioux City) union in the amount of $45,040. Lang had been indicted in March following a probe by the U.S. Labor Department’s Office of Labor-Management Standards.… Read More ➡

Police Union President in Rhode Island Pleads Guilty

Christopher Hayes had a variety of ways to enrich himself illegally. But they all led to a conviction. On May 1, Hayes, former president of Fraternal Order of Police Lodge 8, pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court for the District of Rhode Island to wire fraud in connection with his theft of $71,523 in funds from the Newport union. The former Newport police sergeant had been charged in March following a joint probe by the U.S. Labor Department and the Rhode Island State Police. Prosecutors had alleged that Hayes during August 2009-December 2014 had diverted funds to his own use with his union debit card and checking account, and with cash withdrawals and online credit card payments. Sentencing is set for July 21.… Read More ➡

Illinois BLET Secretary-Treasurer Charged with Embezzlement

On May 2, Thomas Miller, former secretary-treasurer of Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers and Trainmen Division 815, was charged in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois with embezzling $10,686 in funds from the Joliet-based union. The charge follows an investigation by the U.S. Labor Department’s Office of Labor-Management Standards.… Read More ➡

Puerto Rico Declares Bankruptcy; Sticks U.S. Mainland with the Bill

It is now official: Puerto Rico is broke. Last Wednesday, on May 3, the island territorial government, unable to meet its commitments on more than $70 billion in bonds and nearly $50 billion in employee pensions, declared bankruptcy. As far as municipal bond defaults go, it is the largest in U.S. history. Mismanagement and corruption have had more than a little to do with this meltdown. Congress paved the way for receivership last June when it passed legislation granting Puerto Rico protection from certain bond creditors. As the island slides toward oblivion and its residents leave in droves, the emergency control board created by the law has begun to oversee budget restructuring. The long-run challenge ought to be weaning the island from its federal fiscal lifeline and ultimately from the United States itself.

National Legal and Policy Center has covered this unfolding fiscal disaster three times, most recently last Read More ➡

Washington State SMART President Pleads Guilty

On April 7, Pascale McAtee, former president of International Association of Sheet Metal, Air, Rail and Transportation Workers (SMART) Local 161, Transportation Division, pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court for the Western District of Washington to one count of embezzling more than $82,000 in funds from the Everett (Snohomish County), Wash.-based union. He had been indicted last December. Sentencing is scheduled for July. The actions follow a probe by the U.S. Labor Department’s Office of Labor-Management Standards.… Read More ➡

Plumbers Office Manager in Arkansas Charged with Theft

On April 10, Jeni May Hughes, former office manager for United Association of Plumbers and Pipefitters Local 155, was charged in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Arkansas in a one-count information with embezzling funds from the Little Rock union in an unspecified sum. The charge follows an investigation by the U.S. Labor Department’s Office of Labor-Management Standards.… Read More ➡

Trump Aide Omarosa Manigault’s Speech to Sharpton Crowd: A Misadventure

It wasn’t quite the equivalent of entering the lion’s den. But Omarosa Manigault, a black official in the Trump administration, might not want to reenter. On April 27, Manigault (in photo), communications director for the White House Office of Public Liaison, gave a luncheon talk at the annual confab of Al Sharpton’s nonprofit, National Action Network (NAN). Putting on a game face in defending the initiatives of her boss, Donald Trump, she assured the gathering that she would “fight for you in the White House.” The crowd, unimpressed, groaned or gave muted applause throughout. And a subsequent speaker was outright hostile. That Manigault is a member of the Los Angeles NAN chapter did not win her points. The experience should serve notice to “conservatives” that even an informal partnership with the Reverend Al is a losing proposition.

April is a special month on the social calendar of Al Sharpton and … Read More ➡

Federal Judge Blocks Seattle Law Allowing Teamsters to Pressure Uber & Lyft

The Teamster campaign to unionize Uber and Lyft in Seattle hasn’t gone well lately. But with City Hall in its corner, the union may achieve its goal of a labor monopoly anyway. On April 4, U.S. District Judge Robert Lasnik issued a temporary injunction barring the City of Seattle from enforcing a law authorizing a Teamster local to extract driver contact information. “Although there is no trade secret protections or confidentiality attached to this basic identifying information,” he wrote, “the Court finds that forcing the driver coordinators to disclose their most active and productive drivers is likely to cause competitive injury that cannot be repaired once the lists are released.” The action buys some extra time for a thorough review of the ordinance, the product of an unprecedented collusion of local government and labor officials.

Union Corruption Update has addressed this controversy before. Back in December 2015 the Seattle … Read More ➡

Pittsburgh Boilermakers Business Manager Charged with $1.5M Ripoff

Timing is everything. Two days ago, April 24, Ray C. Ventrone, former business manager of International Brotherhood of Boilermakers Local 154, was charged in U.S. District Court for the Western District of Pennsylvania in an information with one count of embezzlement of nearly $1.5 million in funds from the Pittsburgh union and five counts of income tax evasion. He plans to plead guilty. Back in April 2015, various news sources had revealed that Ventrone and possibly other local officers were under investigation for spending irregularities. The charges, the result of a joint FBI, IRS and Labor Department probe, follows revelations earlier this month that IBB officials at Kansas City, Kan. headquarters are continuing to spend recklessly despite similar evidence published five years earlier.

Boilermakers Local 154 represents about 2,000 welders, pipefitters and other construction workers in the Pittsburgh area. Like its parent union, as Union Corruption Update has described, dues-paying … Read More ➡