Nebraska Local Treasurer Charged with Embezzlement

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 ➡

Gambino Mobster Sentenced in NYC Union Construction Scam

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 ➡

Dockworkers Boss in N.J. Pleads Guilty to Conspiracy

Albert Cernadas began working on the New Jersey docks more than 50 years ago. And he almost made it to the top of the International Longshoremen’s Association. As executive vice president of the New York-based union as well as longtime president of Local 1235 across the river in Newark, he was heir apparent to ILA President John Bowers. But after the Justice Department slapped him and several associates with criminal racketeering charges, there was nowhere to go but down.


On September 12, Cernadas, 70, pleaded guilty to reduced conspiracy charges involving fraud while serving on the board of a benefit program known as ILA-Management, or MILA. He signed a consent agreement that forced him to cut all union ties; in return he was exempted from paying fines or doing serious prison time. In a separate agreement, Cernadas settled a civil racketeering suit that had been filed in Brooklyn, Read More ➡

California Teachers Association Possibly Involved in Massive Dues Scheme

Teachers unions aren’t exactly shrinking violets when it comes to politics.  And nothing fuels political campaigns more than member dues.  In California, at least, there’s a blurred line between campaigning and embezzlement – at least according to a prominent conservative legal group.  On September 14, the Landmark Legal Foundation formally requested the California Public Employment Relations Board to investigate whether the California Teachers Association (CTA) is illegally financing a multimillion dollar effort to defeat several ballot initiatives in a statewide November 8 special election. 


So what’s the story here?  Well, the CTA recently imposed a $60 annual special assessment over three years – i.e., $180 per person – on all union members and non-union employees required by state law to pay agency fees to the union for collective bargaining.  Union officials claim the money will be routed toward debt retirement.  But the Kansas City, Mo.-based Landmark Legal Foundation says Read More ➡

D.C. Union, Feds Begin Recovering Stolen Funds

Until about three years ago the Washington Teachers Union (WTU) had been run by what amounted to a theft and money-laundering ring.  Now the local’s new leadership has a message: It wants its money back – as soon as possible.  With help from federal prosecutors, it’s begun the recovery process.  Early this month the union filed a claim to the $31,178 seized by the government from a Charles Schwab account registered in the names of Gwendolyn Hemphill and her husband, Charles Hemphill.  Mrs. Hemphill, formerly the local’s office manager, along with ex-treasurer James O. Baxter II, was convicted on August 31 on 23 counts of conspiracy, embezzlement and other offenses.  It’s true that $31,178 is only a drop in the bucket in comparison to the $4.6 million or more that the local leadership ripped off.  But prosecutors and the current local leadership would call Read More ➡

National President, Three Others Hit with RICO Suit

America’s maritime officers are seafarers, working the decks, engine rooms and other sections of U.S.-flagged commercial and military vessels.  They sail the world’s oceans, the Great Lakes and inland waters.  But federal prosecutors right now are concerned about certain things the people who run their 4,000-member union may have done on land.  On September 14, officials from the Justice and Labor Departments announced the unsealing of a 13-count indictment against Michael McKay, 58, national president of the American Maritime Officers (AMO), his brother, Robert McKay, 55, AMO’s national secretary-treasurer, and two other men.  Charges include embezzlement, mail fraud, graft, obstruction of justice, witness tampering and falsification of records.


The government charged that the McKays, along with union employees Phillip Ciccarelli, 64, and James Lynch, 55, embezzled funds from union benefit plans to pay for personal expenses such as fine china, cigars, hockey games and Read More ➡

Tennessee Business Agent Sentenced for Embezzlement

On August 9, George Hines, ex-business agent for Local 5 of the Sheet Metal Workers, was sentenced in U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Tennessee, to 13 months in prison for embezzling union training funds.  He also was ordered to make restitution in the amount of $95,798.45.  The conviction follows an investigation by the Department of Labor’s Office of Labor-Management Standards.  (OLMS, 9/14).   


Ex-Local Treasurer in Minnesota Sentenced for Theft

On August 25, Dana Lockwood, ex-treasurer for Local 49 of the International Association of Heat & Frost Insulators and Asbestos Workers, was sentenced in U.S. District Court, District of Minnesota, for embezzling more than $64,000 in local funds.  He will have to serve five months in prison, undergo five months home confinement thereafter, and make full restitution.  Lockwood, a resident of Hermantown, Minn., near Duluth, had pleaded Read More ➡

Two Convicted, One Acquitted in D.C. Embezzlement Scheme

aft-logoRoughly 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 ➡

Feds Probe Massive Royalties Theft; Court Issues Injunction

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 ➡

Ex-Meatpackers Local Chief in Wisconsin Charged with Theft

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 ➡