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 ➡
Wayne Kruse, president of the Lawrence Education Association from 1999 until early this year, pleaded guilty in Douglas County (Kan.) District Court on September 6 to stealing nearly $100,000 from the union. The former sixth-grade teacher admitted to one count each of theft and forgery totaling more than $97,000. In return for the plea agreement, prosecutors dropped a second forgery charge. Sentencing is set for October 3. The LEA is affiliated with the National Education Association. (Associated Press, 9/6).
NYC Fire Fighters Union Member Arrested in Bribe Attempt
Thomas DeParma, 54, was a retired veteran of the New York City Fire Department and a member of the Firefighters union. His son, Christopher, 28, wanted to follow in his footsteps. There was only was obstacle to passing the generational torch: His son had to pass a urine test. … Read More ➡
James C. Gaile was mayor of Niagara Falls, N.Y. in 1998 when hired hands belonging to Laborers Local 91 assaulted non-union workers at two hotel construction sites in the city. But was he privy to a secret agreement to look the other way? Gaile insists neither he nor any other public official gave approval to the goons’ behavior. But one of those indicted goons, Dominick Dellaccio, 60, who at one time was president and business manager of the local, may tell a different tale when he takes the witness stand next January at a federal racketeering trial.
The long reign of intimidation by Local 91 has been well-documented in these pages. But prosecutors think there’s a chance the union had some hidden help from City Hall. Gaile, 63, admits that he, then-Police Superintendent Anthony Fera, and then-City Administrator Anthony Restaino had a meeting … Read More ➡
It’s not easy going from hero to goat in one’s own union. But Mike Rice can testify first-hand how quickly it can happen. On September 1, he was charged in U.S. District Court, Madison, Wisconsin, with embezzling more than $30,000 from United Food and Commercial Workers Local 538. For more than a decade he’d headed the local, which represents roughly 2,200 workers at Tyson Foods, Oscar Meyer Foods, and Jones Dairy Farm plants. The U.S. Attorney’s Office, based on evidence obtained from a Labor Department investigation, alleged that from about September 2000 to April 2004, Rice, 57, embezzled UFCW funds by filing expense claims for nonexistent meetings.
The news was a bitter pill for rank and file to swallow. He had been president of Local 538 prior to a nearly year-long strike in 2003 against the Tyson plant in Jefferson (located about … Read More ➡
The phrase “You stole my heart,” has cropped up in more than one popular song. But the people who write the songs also have a decidedly non-romantic theft issue: stolen royalty payments. And the feds want to know a few details. Charles Sanders, special counsel for the Songwriters Guild of America (SGA), recently confirmed that his group is cooperating with the FBI, the IRS and the U.S. Postal Service in a federal investigation of a suspected embezzlement scheme engineered by its royalties manager, Marsha Aiken, and several relatives and associates. Investigators estimate the total missing funds at $1.25 million. To understand how bandits within the SGA have pulled off the royal scam, it’s essential to know a few things about the guild itself.
The Nashville-based Songwriters Guild of America, with an office in Weehawken, N.J., across the Hudson River from New York City, represents about 5,000 songwriters … Read More ➡
Roughly three years ago the leadership of the Washington Teachers Union (WTU), an affiliate of the American Federation of Teachers, revealed itself to be a racket of charlatans picking the pockets of dues-paying members. One by one, culminating with local President Barbara Bullock in the fall of 2003, the major players in a complex, long-term scheme to fleece WTU coffers of at least $4.6 million, pleaded guilty in federal court. To the surprise of almost nobody, the union’s two holdouts, Office Manager Gwendolyn Hemphill and Treasurer James O. Baxter II, neither of whom could be called “educators,” failed to convince a court of their innocence.
On August 31, a federal jury found both Hemphill and Baxter guilty on nearly two dozen counts, including conspiracy, embezzlement, money laundering, and wire fraud. A third defendant, a suburban Maryland-based tax accountant, James Goosby, 56, was found not guilty of covering up the thefts. … Read More ➡
On July 18, Bernard Scheller, ex-secretary-treasurer for Communications Workers Local 14448, was sentenced in federal court to six months in a halfway house, to be followed by two years of supervised release and 100 hours of community service, for embezzlement. Scheller in May pleaded guilty to stealing $7,250 in union funds. The plea and sentence resulted from an investigation by the OLMS Cincinnati District Office. (OLMS, 8/6).
Ex-N.H. Business Manager Indicted for Embezzlement
A former business manager for a Laborers International Union of North America local in New Hampshire was indicted on charges of embezzling more than $150,000. The U.S. Attorney’s Office on August 10 announced its prosecution of Thomas Brewster, 54, for stealing from the Portsmouth local during the period May 17, 2003 to December 27, 2004. If convicted, Brewster faces a maximum prison term of five years and a fine of $10,000.… Read More ➡
The soap opera that is latter-day New Jersey politics has a new episode. This time the central characters are a U.S. Senator who wants to be the state’s next governor, a divorcee who represents the state’s largest collective-bargaining unit for state employees, and, from a distance, her ex-husband. Nobody has broken the law – so far as one knows. And it’s a private matter, involving no union funds. But many observers are worried that a major conflict of interest is in the making unless the candidate is more forthright with the facts.
There’s no disputing that the New Jersey’s governor’s race took a bizarre turn on August 5. The New York Times and the Newark Star-Ledger each revealed, through obtained court documents, that Sen. Jon Corzine, D-N.J., over two and a half years ago had written a large check to a girlfriend to help with her divorce settlement. On the … Read More ➡
Labor unions, in theory, are supposed to support higher pay for workers. The idea of a union colluding with an employer to drive down wages doesn’t make sense. Then again, forced card-check agreements have never made sense – at least for workers reluctant to join a union. A case originating in South Carolina on the issue may have major implications for the rights of non-joining employees who may view a particular union as corrupt.
The National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) on Friday, August 5 announced it would prosecute the United Auto Workers for unlawfully blocking a scheduled wage increase, thereby coercing Freightliner, a Portland, Ore.-based maker of trucks and other commercial vehicles, to support the union during an organizing drive at the firm’s Gaffney, S.C. plant. NLRB’s Regional Office 11, in Winston-Salem, N.C., had responded to a complaint brought forth in 2003 by attorneys with … Read More ➡
This summer hasn’t been the best for the International Longshoremen’s Association (ILA). On July 6 the Justice Department slapped the union’s top leadership with a massive civil RICO suit centering on acts of extortion, fraud and other crimes it allegedly tolerated in the Ports of New York-New Jersey and Miami. Now, just two weeks later, on July 19, the department accused leaders of an ILA affiliate in Puerto Rico and several of their associates of ripping off as much as $10 million and underreporting another $1.5 million.
Four officials of UTM Local 1740, along with six businessmen and three companies, were indicted in U.S. District Court on 23 counts of embezzlement, money-laundering and maintaining false records. The union officials were Local 1740 President Jorge L. Aponte-Figueroa; attorney Ada Perez-Alonso, Enrique Sosa-Hernandez and Milagros Pagan-Morales. The businessmen named in the suit were Angel Ramallo-Diaz, Rafael Garcia-Perez, Fernando Sanchez-Bencon, Eduardo Sanchez-Bencon, Francisco … Read More ➡