Southern Illinois Teamster President, Secretary Plead Guilty to Thefts

On May 17, Scott and Nancy Alexander, respectively, ex-president and secretary-treasurer of International Brotherhood of Teamsters Local 50, pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Illinois to one count each of embezzlement and wire fraud from the Belleville, Ill. union. During January 2012-June 2016, alleged prosecutors, the husband-wife couple made about $6,500 in unauthorized purchases with a union credit card, manipulated the payroll, collected vacation pay while at work and received excessive auto allowance reimbursements. After receiving tips from within the union about such activity, the Labor Department’s Office of Labor-Management Standards conducted a probe. That in turn led to indictments last June. Teamsters General President James P. Hoffa already had imposed a trusteeship on the local in July 2016.… Read More ➡

IATSE Secretary-Treasurer in Virginia Charged with Theft

On May 11, Christopher Mulhall, former secretary-treasurer of International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees Local 264, was charged in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia in a criminal information with conspiracy to commit wire fraud and embezzlement in the amount of $57,310.03 from the Hampton, Va.-based union. The charge follows an investigation by the U.S. Labor Department’s Office of Labor-Management Standards and Office of Inspector General.… Read More ➡

Congress Probes $200 Million Annual Union Medicaid Scam

To organized labor, they’re called dues payments. To some members of Congress, they’re called acts of theft. The critics may be right. During the past several weeks, the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Government Affairs has been conducting oversight on why Medicaid, a program now consuming well over a half-trillion dollars a year in federal and state taxes, is costing so much. One reason is that unions now skim an estimated $200 million a year from the program, having been granted the authority by more than a dozen states to reclassify home health care workers, including family caregivers, as government employees. This practice undermines statutory intent and a Supreme Court ruling four years ago. Sen. Ron Johnson, R-Wisc., for one, is demanding some answers from the Department of Health and Human Services.

Medicaid is by far the nation’s largest means-tested anti-poverty program. Passed by Congress and signed by President … Read More ➡

Convicted Benefits Manager of Alabama Iron Workers Local Barred from Union Activity

Brandi Stephens thought she was too clever to be caught. It was a poor guess. This past Tuesday, May 15, the U.S. Department of Labor announced it had entered into a consent agreement with Stephens, former administrator for the welfare and pension plan of the Birmingham, Ala.-based Iron Workers Local 92, that barred her from acting in any capacity on behalf of the plan. This past December, in a separate criminal case, she had been sentenced in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Alabama to six months of home confinement and five years of probation, and was ordered to pay $45,896 in restitution. The actions follow a probe by the Labor Department’s Employee Benefits Security Administration.

According to prosecutors, Stephens operated a variety of schemes. She altered her paychecks by increasing the amount due to her; diverted additional payroll and expense account checks by substituting her name for … Read More ➡

Plumbers Benefit Plan Lawyer in Pennsylvania Indicted for Hiding Documents

Benefit managers for United Association of Plumbers and Pipefitters Local 520 may have been corrupt, but Charles W. Johnston wasn’t about to help anyone get to the bottom of it all. On April 12, a U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Pennsylvania indicted Johnson, the Harrisburg union’s legal counsel, for withholding and concealing documents related to allegations of pension plan corruption made by a third party, PATH Administrators, against a previous administrator. The indictment, unsealed on May 7, follows an investigation by the FBI and the U.S. Labor Department’s Office of Inspector General and Employee Benefits Security Administration.

According to prosecutors, Johnston, now 70, a resident of Camp Hill, Pa., during the period August 28, 2014-May 1, 2015, acted in his capacity as counsel for Plumbers Local 520 to thwart a probe that might have revealed whether mismanagement and fraud at the local pension plan had … Read More ➡

Labor Department Seeks to Prevent Managers From Playing Politics With Pension Funds

By law, managers of employer-sponsored pension plans must act in the best interests of investors. Unfortunately, many such fiduciaries are applying an unusually broad definition. That’s why the U.S. Department of Labor has clarified the issue. On April 23, the DOL released a guidance statement intended to discourage benefit managers from applying the principle known as Environmental, Social and Governance to investment decisions. Such a practice might seem worthy, noted the department, but it may place safety and soundness in harm’s way. The action is especially a rebuke to those who see issues advocacy as a top business priority.

Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG), alternately known as Corporate Social Responsibility, is a philosophy holding that a corporation is not only a business enterprise, but also a steward of the public good. A company, in this view, can and should be at once profitable and morally conscious. A company must … Read More ➡

Detroit-Area Operating Engineers Ex-Boss Sentenced

On April 25, Steven Minella, ex-president/business agent of International Union of Operating Engineers Local 324, was ordered by the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan to pay $38,000 in restitution to the Detroit-area union for failure to report a crime committed by someone else (misprision). That someone else was his predecessor, John Hamilton, who embezzled over $70,000 from his re-election campaign war chest in 2012. Hamilton, who pleaded guilty last August to extortion and embezzlement, distributed the money in roughly equal amounts to Minella and David Hart, Minella’s now-convicted chief of staff. Minella had pleaded guilty in September 2015. The actions follow a probe by the FBI, the IRS and the U.S. Labor Department’s Office of Labor-Management Standards, Office of Inspector General and Employee Benefits Security Administration.… Read More ➡

IATSE Treasurer in Alaska Sentenced for Theft

Ann Reddig still might be confused as to why she stole from her union, but she’ll at least have time to think about it. On April 11, the U.S. Attorney’s Office announced that Reddig, former secretary-treasurer of International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees Local 918, had been sentenced in U.S. District Court for the District of Alaska to 14 months in prison and three years of supervised release for embezzling nearly $200,000 in funds from the Anchorage union. She also was ordered to pay restitution in the sum of $139,960.66. Reddig had pleaded guilty in September after being charged last June following a probe by the U.S. Labor Department’s Office of Labor-Management Standards.

According to prosecutors, Reddig, now 63, during January 2010-September 2014 “embezzled, stole and unlawfully and willfully abstracted and converted to her own use, or the use of another” $193,275.52 from the union, which for several years … Read More ➡

Transportation Union Secretary in Illinois Sentenced for Theft, Coverup

On April 20, Wendy Buch, former secretary-treasurer for Transportation Communications Union (TCU) Local Lodge T-574, was sentenced in U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Illinois to five years of probation for embezzling funds from the Shiloh, Ill. union. She also was ordered to pay $11,957.34 in restitution and a $150 special assessment. Buch had pleaded guilty last December to embezzlement and concealment. TCU is affiliated with the International Association of Machinists. The actions follow an investigation by the Labor Department’s Office of Labor-Management Standards.… Read More ➡

Government Employees President in Kansas Pleads Guilty

On April 24, Robert Clearwater, former president of National Association of Government Employees (NAGE) Local 14-8, pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court for the District of Kansas to one count of embezzlement in the amount of $11,681 and six counts of concealing the thefts in financial records of the Topeka-based union. Clearwater had been indicted in February. NAGE is an affiliate of the Service Employees International Union. The actions follow an investigation by the U.S. Labor Department’s Office of Labor-Management Standards.… Read More ➡

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