Labor Department Files Suit to Void D.C. Local Election

The lowlifes who ran the Washington Teachers Union as their personal piggy bank for seven years are gone from the scene, but the effects of their reign of embezzlement and money-laundering are still around.  The 4,500-member union, an affiliate of the American Federation of Teachers, is facing a Labor Department civil suit over apparent irregularities in local elections held during December 2004-January 2005.  The DOL filed the complaint in federal court on February 15, arguing that “violations…may have affected the outcome of the defendant’s elections.”  If successful, the earlier results would be voided, and a new election would have to be held. The suit was prompted by complaints to the department by four union members, one of whom had run unsuccessfully for president.             


The local leadership insists the election was fully in accordance with established procedures for union elections.  “We believe that Read More ➡

Power Struggle Brewing in Boston Local

Power, a part of nature, abhors a vacuum. And ever since George Cashman, the corrupt boss of International Brotherhood of Teamsters Local 25 in Boston was sent packing to federal prison nearly two and a half years ago, it’s been less than clear as to who will fill that vacuum. One will have a better idea come June, when the 8,300-member local will send a delegation to the Teamsters’ national convention in Las Vegas. On one side is incumbent President Ritchie Reardon, the secretary-treasurer who took over the presidency after Cashman’s departure. On the other side is his challenger, Sean O’Brien. Both are supporters of General President James P. Hoffa, himself up for re-election late this year. But the similarities pretty much end there. 


O’Brien, whose Teamsters father, William O’Brien, had been a close ally of Cashman, is campaigning on the slogan, “Results, not excuses!” He’s positioning himself as an Read More ➡

Hawaii’s Rutledges Plead Guilty to Fraud, Sentenced

For well over 50 years the Rutledge name was synonymous with organized labor in Hawaii.  Employees of Waikiki Beach hotels, and drivers making deliveries to the hotels, answered to a fiefdom that Arthur Rutledge had begun in the late 1930s and ran with an iron fist.  In 1951 Rutledge founded a nonprofit entity, Unity House, to provide benefits to Local 5 of the Hotel Employees and Restaurant Employees and Local 996 of the International Brotherhood of Teamsters.  Currently, some 20,000 workers and retirees belong to Unity House.  Art Rutledge died in 1997, but his son, Anthony Rutledge, and grandson Aaron Rutledge, carried on the patriarch’s torch – and with a similar blind spot for the law.  Their reign is now over, though the price they’ve paid is considerably less than what prosecutors had sought.    


On February 6, Tony Rutledge pled guilty in U.S. District Court for the District of Hawaii Read More ➡

Local Labor Boss-Ex L.A. City Councilman to Plead Guilty

On the West Coast as well, things have gotten tough for a prominent labor official holding down a second job as a politician. Until recently, Martin Ludlow was the toast of Los Angeles progressive politics. But right now the former Los Angeles City Councilman and union leader looks more like toast. On Monday, March 6, Ludlow, head of the Los Angeles County Federation of Labor, agreed to plead guilty to felony conspiracy to secretly divert more than $36,000 in union funds to his 2003 council campaign. Three days earlier federal and local prosecutors, along with the City Ethics Commission, announced they had worked out a deal. In addition to paying restitution, Ludlow would accept a four-year ban on holding public office and a 13-year ban on leading a union. He may be able to avoid prison time provided he cooperates with the investigation of former Service Employees International Union Local Read More ➡

FBI Raids Offices of Queens, N.Y. Politician-Labor Boss

Life in a dual role of politician and union boss has its temptations.  People come asking for favors, especially when it comes to contracts.  The power broker’s social connections and knowledge of the rules make it all too easy to say “yes” to friends, while making extra money on the side.  But being in the sweet seat can lead to situations where the risks outweigh the rewards.  Brian M. McLaughlin, president of the New York City Central Labor Council (CLC) and New York State Assemblyman from Queens, has learned the hard way.  On Thursday, March 2, FBI agents conducted a dawn raid on each of McLaughlin’s union and Assembly district offices, carting out boxes of computers, books and records.  It’s part of an ongoing investigation into massive bid-rigging of City electrical contracts.  In the process, the raid made his political ally, New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, appear less than Read More ➡

Ex-Business Manager in Kansas Charged with Embezzlement

On January 24, Vince L. Matthews was charged in U.S. District Court for the District of Kansas with one count of embezzling $93,298.28 from Sheet Metal Workers Local 29.  The information count follows an investigation by the Labor Department’s Office of Labor-Management Standards.  (OLMS, 2/16/06).   


Indiana Secretary-Treasurer Pleads Guilty to Embezzling Funds

On January 24, William Van Sickle, former secretary-treasurer for American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees Local 725, pleaded guilty to embezzlement of union funds totaling $62,229.40.  The guilty plea follows an investigation by the Labor Department.  (OLMS, 2/16/06).


Former Treasurer for Buffalo Local Sentenced for Embezzlement

On January 31, Albert Moore, former secretary-treasurer for Local 1-6992 of the Paper, Allied-Industrial, Chemical and Energy Workers, was sentenced in U.S. District Court for the Western District of New York to six months home confinement, three years probation and 400 hours of Read More ➡

Crony of Duff Family Sentenced for Chicago HERE Contract Fraud

The final door in the eternal federal case against Chicago’s once-mighty Duff family has closed.  On January 27, Terrence Dolan, former operations manager for a Chicago-based company, Windy City Maintenance, was sentenced in federal court to 21 months of imprisonment followed by three years supervised release, ordered to pay $20,000 in restitution to the City of Chicago, and fined another $1,100 for his part in falsely indicating the firm as female-owned in winning a lucrative city contract back.  Dolan was the last of six defendants to be sentenced in a joint probe of a Chicago Hotel Employees and Restaurant Employees (HERE) local by the FBI, the IRS, the Department of Labor and the City of Chicago.  He had pleaded guilty in October to 11 counts of mail fraud.

James Duff, his brothers and their mother, Patricia Duff, ran Chicago’s Liquor & Wine Sales Representatives union.  James Duff also owned Windy Read More ➡

Ex-Official of Southern California Local Sentenced for Thefts

Like many embezzlers, William H. Good, Jr., former secretary-treasurer for Local Lodge 821 of the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers, had a gambling problem.  Now he’s getting some help, courtesy of federal court.  Good, 57, a resident of Lucerne Valley, pleaded guilty in October to two felony counts of embezzlement totaling $3,500.  But that sum was a mere fraction of his total theft of $192,469 over a nearly six-year period ending in August 2004.  Good had written 229 fraudulent checks drawn on the Ontario, Calif.-based local’s bank account.  To cash most of them, he forged the signatures of other local executive board members.  In 1999, with his scam underway, he convinced the board to send union bank statements to his home address.   


The U.S. District Court for the Central District of California on January 23 sentenced Good to 18 months Read More ➡

Former D.C. Teachers Union Official Claims Mental Illness

aft-logoThere’s nothing new about a criminal defendant playing the crazy card in order to avoid a conviction or a sentence.  Some, like the late Genovese crime family godfather, Vincent “the Chin” Gigante, go all out and pretend to be cracked in public.  That trick worked for a few decades.  Others, more conventionally, claim they were crazy at the time the alleged offenses took place.  Gwendolyn Hemphill fits into the second category.  Unfortunately for her, she’s not terribly convincing – at least according to federal prosecutors.


Hemphill, 64, for years served as office manager for the Washington Teachers Union, a local affiliate of the American Federation of Teachers.  Last August she and ex-union treasurer James O. Baxter II each were convicted on nearly two dozen charges in relation to their role in a theft and money-laundering scheme that cost the union up to $5 million during 1995-2002.  Their fate virtually was Read More ➡

Two Local Officials in New Jersey Arrested for Embezzlement

Gary Weightman and John McGovern got a Valentine’s Day present from the government.  But it wasn’t the gift of love.  The pair, respectively, had been president and secretary-treasurer of American Postal Workers Union (APWU) Local 190 in Clifton, N.J., while holding down full-time postal jobs.  On Tuesday, February 14 federal prosecutors in Newark unsealed an indictment against them, as they were being arrested.  Weightman and McGovern allegedly embezzled more than $400,000 from the union during 2000-2002, with the money going for everyday expenses.  Both men were released on $100,000 bond.


Weightman’s lawyer, Stephen F. Pellino, says his client is innocent.  “There may have been some sloppiness in the way books were kept…but he didn’t steal any money,” he remarked.  But Weightman, 53, and McGovern, 50, certainly have acted like they’ve got something to hide.  The two have been charged with obstructing Read More ➡