Nathan Saunders is on a mission. He’s a teacher at Washington, D.C.’s Anacostia High School. And his main lesson for the last three years has been that crime doesn’t pay – especially when it’s committed by officials of his own local union, the Washington Teachers Union (WTU). For a good seven years, the WTU had fleeced its members all the while claiming to represent them. In 2002, an independent audit revealed roughly $5 million in local funds were missing. Saunders, now the WTU’s vice president, promptly sued the union and a local financial institution, Independence Federal Savings Bank, where the WTU conducted a large number of unusual transactions. He demanded a recovery of the missing funds, even as the Justice Department was prosecuting the ringleaders. Now he appears on the verge of solace.
U.S. District Judge Emmet G. … Read More ➡
Most people would consider an $82,400 salary, plus the use of a free motor vehicle and housing, sufficient to maintain a decent lifestyle. But Stanley J. Kluss apparently isn’t like most people. As executive director of the Wisconsin Professional Police Association during 1986-2004, he supplemented his aforementioned income and benefit package with roughly $25,000 in unauthorized expenses from the union till. On October 5, the 63-year-old Kluss received the bill: a 37-count federal indictment.
Justice Department officials allege that between October 2000 and February 2004 Kluss defrauded the Madison-based police association in several ways. First, he charged personal items to the tune of $8,879 on its credit cards, disguising them as legitimate expenses by cutting the tops and bottoms off receipts. He also inflated official travel records by nearly 50,000 miles, fraudulently obtaining about $15,000 in reimbursements this way. Finally, he made $1,440 … Read More ➡
On September 21, Joseph Calcagno, formerly business manager/secretary-treasurer for Laborers Local 1162, was sentenced in U.S. District Court, District of Massachusetts, to two years probation for making false entries in the local’s financial records. He also was ordered to make $66,632 in restitution to the union for improper expenses. The local is based in Brockton, south of Boston. The case was investigated by the Labor Department’s Office of Labor-Management Standards. (OLMS, 10/1).
Local President in Connecticut Pleads Guilty to Embezzlement
On September 20, Gary Gourley, formerly president of American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees Local 1522, pleaded guilty to embezzling $63,084 in union funds. Sentencing is set for December 16. (OLMS, 10/1).
Wyoming Local Ex-Treasurer Indicted for Embezzlement
On September 22, Richard Carlson, the former secretary-treasurer of Postal Workers Local 769 in Wyoming… Read More ➡
Local 951 of the United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW) is a deceptively major force in the Michigan economy. The Grand Rapids-based union, representing some 33,000 employees at Meijer Inc. and other retailers, has been on a roll under longtime President Robert Potter. But all along, there was a dark side to success. Potter and his allies dished out payback to dissenters, making their share of enemies. Now it looks as though their good luck streak is about to end.
The U.S. Department of Labor recently announced it had filed a complaint against Local 951 over election irregularities in 2004. The DOL is charging that union leaders, among other things, traded candy bars and pens for election ballots, threatened a challenger candidate, and required some members to cast ballots in front of pro-incumbent officials. The department is seeking a new election. And that may be just the start of the … Read More ➡
Mike Rice’s fall from grace was swift. On September 19, Rice, ex-president of UFCW Local 538 in Madison, pleaded guilty in federal court to embezzling $30,211 from the union. He filed false expense vouchers over several years, even as he led members in a bitter strike against the Tyson Foods plant in Jefferson. The 2,200-member local also represents workers at Oscar Meyer (Madison) and Jones Dairy Farm (Fort Atkinson). His sentence could include up to five years in prison and a fine of up to $250,000. “Over a number of years as president of Local 538, I was paid money to attend meetings that did not happen,” Rice admitted to U.S. District Judge Barbara Crabb in Madison. (Wisconsin State Journal, 9/20).
Wisconsin Local President Indicted for Embezzlement
There must be something in the … Read More ➡
The International Brotherhood of Boilermakers needed some renovation work at its headquarters in Kansas City, Kan. Unfortunately, someone at the union thought that an unauthorized use of member funds – about $920,000 worth – could pay for it. Investigators aren’t yet certain if thefts actually occurred. But at least one person at the union appears to have something to hide. As a result, he’s facing some serious legal problems.
On September 15, a federal grand jury returned a pair of indictments against Christopher Scott Wagner, operations manager for Boilermakers National Funds, which includes at least three separate benefit plans. Wagner, 44, this past March 20 allegedly lied to investigators and obstructed a criminal investigation. This, say prosecutors, suggests that he or someone else at the union during the course of 1999 through 2001 embezzled benefit fund assets to pay for the … Read More ➡
It’s getting to be a regular occurrence over the past several months: A very unpleasant guy from Laborers Local 91, the scourge of the Niagara Falls, N.Y. area, pleads guilty. The latest to join the club is Patrick McKeown, a local board member. McKeown, 58, recently admitted his role in two incidents: 1) the destruction of landfill liner roughly the size of four football fields that had been installed by a non-union company at the Browning Ferris Industries landfill in the Town of Niagara; and 2) the destruction of construction equipment used by a non-union company at the Ordnance Works in Lewiston, N.Y.
Local 91 long had used assaults, threats and property destruction to intimidate non-union workers and their contractors from building in Niagara County. Fourteen of its leaders and members were indicted after a lengthy investigation by federal, state … Read More ➡
It began on June 15 of this year as a rump faction within the AFL-CIO. And now the Change to Win Coalition, on Tuesday, September 27, made it official: It is now a federation in its own right. The group split from the AFL-CIO after several years of growing acrimony. Change to Win (CTW) unions came to believe that the AFL-CIO was pouring enormous amounts of money and energy into political advocacy at the expense of organizing. The result of misguided priorities was a decaying labor movement. “Organizing is our core principle. It is our North Star,” declared Change to Win founding chair, Anna Burger, before a large, cheering convention in St. Louis. Burger, longtime (and still) political director for the 1.8 million-member Service Employees International Union (SEIU), added, “We will put our money where our mouth is, with three-quarters of our resources going to a groundbreaking organizing crusade.” … Read More ➡
Crime paid well for Antoinette Cox-Burress – at least for three and a half years. But now the former treasurer of Amalgamated Transit Union Local 1293, in Lincoln, stands accused of stealing $14,663 from the union. During June 2001-December 2004, Lancaster County prosecutors allege, she embezzled funds from the local account at First Choice Credit Union in Lincoln. Officers served a search warrant at the credit union on September 22, and determined that she had made 42 unauthorized withdrawals. In some cases, Cox-Burress took cash; in others, she transferred funds to another personal account at the union. She posted a $300 bond and was released from county jail on September 29. (Lincoln Journal Star, 10/1).
Teacher in Kansas Gets Probation for Thefts
Wayne Kruse, a former sixth-grade teacher in Lawrence, Kansas, remarked at his sentencing hearing of … Read More ➡
The New York City Metropolitan Transit Authority (MTA) back in the late 90s thought it was getting a steal of a deal on the construction of its new headquarters at 2 Broadway in Lower Manhattan. And in an unintended way, it was. An unholy alliance between a major developer, the Gambino crime family, a host of contractors, and at least three unions led to thefts in excess of $10 million, and contributed toward a total project cost overrun of more than $300 million. A 43-count federal indictment unveiled last September alleged that Gambino influence led to fraud, extortion and kickbacks in at least 10 separate contracts. This August 2 one of the syndicate’s key players, Mario Garafola, learned he would have to do some prison time. But his wrongdoing has to be seen in the context of a far broader conspiracy uncovered by the FBI and the Department of … Read More ➡