Union Takes Over Chicago-Area Local; Major Issues Remain

The International Association of Iron Workers seemed willing to overlook a lot of things that had gone wrong at Riggers Local 136 in the Chicago suburb of River Grove, Illinois.  Former longtime local boss Fred Schreier had pleaded guilty in federal court to graft.  The Department of Labor this July filed a lawsuit alleging financial irregularities in the pension and welfare accounts of this and other Iron Workers locals.  And the Justice Department had begun a probe into long-suspected mob influence at Local 136.  But when local bosses stopped forwarding dues, it was time for the international union to take over the show. 

 

A few days after Thanksgiving, the Washington, D.C.-based IAIW placed the local under receivership, stripping elected officers – including President Frank DiMarco – of their authority, and removing the local’s seats from various pension boards.  The supervision period, Read More ➡

Body in Car Trunk Was Ricci’s; Funeral Held

Not too many people thought Lawrence Ricci disappeared on his own accord. He’d already testified before a federal courtroom jury in Brooklyn, N.Y.  And when he remained missing even after being acquitted of conspiracy and wire fraud charges related to a union benefit diversion scheme, the likelihood his vanishing was voluntary became even more remote. Now everyone’s worst suspicions have been confirmed: Ricci was killed. And his death – his body was discovered in the trunk of a car – has all the marks of a mob hit. Ricci, 60, a reputed acting capo of the Genovese crime family, had been on trial along with two top officials of the International Longshoremen’s Association, Harold Daggett and Arthur Coffey, both of whom, like Ricci, wound up acquitted. Another union official, Albert Cernadas, pleaded guilty prior to the trial. 

 

The case centered on whether ILA officials steered a union pharmaceutical contract Read More ➡

Former Secretary-Treasurer in California Pleads Guilty

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 ➡

Pittsburgh-Area Bakery & Tobacco Workers Benefit Fund Administrator Arraigned

bakery-tobacco-workers-logoMarilyn 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 ➡

Virginia Beach Ex-Bookkeeper Pleads Guilty to Embezzlement

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 ➡

One Acquitted, Another Sentenced; San Diego’s Crisis Remains

Now that the federal government and the City of San Diego are done, for the time being, battling molehills, they will have more time for scaling mountains.  A recent federal court ruling should make for an easier transition.  On November 10, U.S. District Judge Jeffrey T. Miller took the unusual step of throwing out seven of nine guilty verdicts rendered by a jury this July against Michael Zucchet, a former city councilman, and very briefly, mayor.  “As happy as I am,” said Zucchet, “I’ll never get my name back.  I’ll never get my job back.  I’m financially ruined.  My physical and emotional health – and the health of my family – has been devastated.”  He’s a lucky man compared to ex-councilman colleague Ralph Inzunza.  Judge Miller handed down a 21-month sentence to Inzunza for extortion, fraud and conspiracy in connection with an Read More ➡

Duff Associate in Chicago Pleads Guilty to HERE Mail Fraud

The contracting fiefdom of Chicago’s Duff family all but ended in May with the sentencing of four top members and associates for various fraud, money-laundering and racketeering offenses.  Last month saw additional closure.  On October 20, Terrence Dolan, former operations manager for Windy City Maintenance, pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court to 11 counts of mail fraud.  Windy City, a Duff-owned business, falsely had filed as a woman-owned business in order to land a contract from the City of Chicago.

 

James Duff and William Stratton, respectively, ex-vice president and business agent of Local 3 of the Liquor and Wine Sales Representatives, an affiliate of the Hotel Employees and Restaurant Employees (HERE), had been two key principals in the larger scheme.  Duff, a close friend of Mayor Daley, already had pleaded guilty; Stratton, a black friend and minority-group “front,” later was convicted by a jury along with a Read More ➡

Staten Island Politician Does Odd Deals with ILA; Mayor Doesn’t Mind

howland-hookMore than once they’ve been called “the odd couple” of New York City politics.  But an investigative report published in the October 25 edition of the Village Voice by Tom Robbins suggests the tight alliance between New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg and Staten Island Borough President James Molinaro, politically both Republicans but culturally worlds apart, goes well beyond typical City Hall back-scratching.  In fact, the author alleges, it has the blessing of a supporting cast of shady businessmen and local unions.  And this partnership has allowed certain elements of the Gambino and other crime families to operate with a freer hand than otherwise.

 

Bloomberg, whom Forbes magazine recently listed as worth $5 billion, is obviously too rich to be bought.  He has asserted repeatedly that he doesn’t govern on the basis of patronage.  But given that Staten Island went 4-to-1 for Bloomberg in his initial election in 2001, well…he Read More ➡

ILA Officials, Mobster Found Not Guilty; Questions Remain

In the end, the jury wasn’t convinced. But that hardly means the prosecution wasn’t convincing. On Tuesday, November 8, a federal jury in Brooklyn, N.Y. acquitted all three defendants of conspiracy and fraud charges related to allegations they steered Longshoremen union benefit funds toward a mobbed-up pharmaceutical company. The fortunate ones are: Harold Daggett (in photo), the union’s assistant general organizer; Arthur Coffey, ILA vice president and Miami chieftain; and Lawrence Ricci, a reported Genovese crime family captain. While the verdict was a clear victory for the union, nagging questions remain – like the whereabouts of Ricci.    

 

The leadership of the International Longshoremen’s Association, for now, is out of the woods. Longtime President John Bowers referred to the acquittals as “a wonderful day for the ILA.” By no coincidence, just two days later on November 10, Bowers announced the union would strengthen its Code of Ethics. Among other steps, Read More ➡

Former Local Boss in Wisconsin Sentenced for Embezzlement

Michael Rice had served as president of Local 538 of the United Food and Commercial Workers since the late 80s.  On Tuesday, November 29, he found out how long he’ll have to serve in another capacity:  six months as an inmate in prison, plus an additional three years of supervised release.  Rice, a resident of Madison, had embezzled slightly over $30,000 from the local in the form of bogus expense claims filed between September 2000 and April 2004.  He pleaded guilty in September and since has made restitution.  In sentencing Rice, U.S. District Judge Barbara Crabb took note of the fact the some of his thefts took place during a bitter and unsuccessful strike in 2003.  Local 538 represents a combined roughly 2,200 workers at two meatpacking plants and a dairy plant in southern Wisconsin.  (Associated Press, 11/30).

 

Chicago-Area Read More ➡