S. Fla. Union Chief Convicted of Racketeering

Broward County union boss Walter Browne and his sister, Patricia Devaney, were convicted on June 2 of running the Natl. Fdtn. of Public & Private Employees (NFPPE) as an organized crime enterprise.  The 3rd time proved to be the charm for fed. prosecutors.  In 1996, Browne pled guilty to a misdemeanor charge of mail tampering to allegedly rig a 1988 union vote, and accepted a brief suspension from the union.  In 1993, Browne was acquitted by a judge of federal mail fraud charges in Ft. Lauderdale.

 

Jury foreman John Sprague said that this time the jurors were convinced by thousands of pages of receipts and financial records that the brother-and-sister team had:  embezzled hundreds of thousands of dollars from the NFPPE and the Marine Engineers Beneficial Assn. and: raked in nearly $500,000 in “consulting fees” from employers in exchange for Browne keeping his union Read More ➡

Senate Cmte. Issues ULLICO Report

Senator Susan Collins (R-Maine) blamed the union chiefs making up the bd. of the union-pension-owned ULLICO company for a insider stock-trading scandal, due to their infrequent meetings and poor attendance.  According to a June 2nd staff report by the U.S. Senate Cmte. on Governmental Affairs, the bd. members’ lack of oversight allowed ex-CEO Robert Georgine to orchestrate a series of deals involving the private company’s stock that enriched him and other employees and bd. members at the expense of the union pension funds supporting the company.  The 98-page majority staff report can be accessed on NLPC’s website at http://www.nlpc.org/pdfs/ULLICO%20Report.pdf.

 

Key findings of the report include the following:

 

Although ULLICO (Union Labor Life Insurance Company) was a corporation directed by leaders of organized labor, Georgine and other mgrs. structured stock transactions largely for the benefit of insiders rather than the union members whose unions and pension funds Read More ➡

Court Replaces Trustees of Defunct Calif. Union Health Plan – U.S. Labor Department Investigation Reveals $7 Million in Unpaid H

 The U.S. Dept. of Labor (DOL) has obtained a consent judgment appointing an independent fiduciary to take over administration of the health plan of a defunct West Hills-based union. The department sued the president of the Intl. Union for Natural Health, Alternative and Complementary Medicine Professions (IUNHCAMP) and three plan trustees for mismanagement that resulted in an estimated $7 million in unpaid health care claims.

 

The judgment, entered in the the U.S. Dist. Ct. for the Cent. Dist. of Calif., settles the Nov. 2003 suit that alleged that union president Steven Gorman and the plan trustees violated the Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA).  The defendants allegedly failed to charge health plan participants adequate premium rates and to implement appropriate medical underwriting guidelines.  The suit also alleged that Gorman’s involvement with the IUNHCAMP health benefits plan violated a Sept. 2000 court order barring him from any Read More ➡

Las Vegas Officials & Intl. Trade Corruption Charges

Two yrs. after the Intl. Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees took over its Las Vegas affiliate, officials in the union’s NYC HQ continue to defend their takeover as necessary to repair a “complete breakdown of the democratic processes of the local.”  Many local members, however, claim that the Intl. fraudulently seized the local union in 2002, and has failed to represent the financial interests of local stage employees.  According to an attny. representing some of those members, the U.S. Dept. of Labor is examining the Intl. takeover of Local 720. A DOL spokeswoman would neither confirm nor deny whether such an investigation is occurring.

 

The dispute is now playing out in dueling lawsuits, both filed in the U.S. Dist. Ct. for Nev.  Last Nov., the 2 trustees appointed by the Intl. to run 720, Robert Trombetta and Dennis Brook, alleged that officials of the Local’s pension Read More ➡

Racketeering Trial of Brother & Sister Proceeds in Fla. Fed. Court

Federal prosecutors presented a picture of a union existing solely to serve its founder and his sister in a trial that began on April 14.  Walter Browne and his sister, Patricia Devaney, are on trial in the U.S. Dist. Ct. for the Sou. Dist. for Fla. on racketeering, fraud and embezzlement charges. 

 

Debra Weiler testified that she met Browne when he created the Natl. Fedtn. of Public Employees (NFPE) in 1994, splitting it off from the Marine Engineers Beneficial Assn.  According to Weiler, the NFPE’s secy.-treasurer complained that he was denied access to the union’s financial records.  She also testified that Browne and Devaney had exclusive use of 2 out of 6 union cars.  In Devaney’s case, Weiler said, it was hardly ever used for union business.  Weiler, however, said she had to use her own car to cash union checks for Devaney Read More ➡

Mass. Bus. Agent Sentenced for Embezzlement

A Chicopee man was sentenced on May 5 in federal court for embezzling $81,000 from a union representing employees of Top Flight, a wholly owned subsidiary of Callaway Golf formerly owned by Spalding.  U.S. Attny. Michael J. Sullivan and Mark Letizi, Dist. Director for the U.S. Dept. of Labor’s Ofc. of Labor Mgmt. Standards (OLMS) in New England, announced that Gene Malinowski was sentenced by U.S. Dist. Judge Michael A. Ponsor (Mass., Clinton) to 5 yrs. of probation, including 6 mos. in a community corrections facility and 6 mos. in home confinement.  Malinowski was also ordered to pay over $17,000 in restitution to the union.

 

Malinowski pled guilty on Dec. 19, 2003, to a one count indictment charging him with embezzling $81,000 from the union.  At the earlier plea hearing, the prosecutor told the Court that, had the case proceeded to trial, Read More ➡

New Study Blames Union Corruption on Compulsory Unionism

What a back-porch light is to moths, compulsory unionism is to con artists and Mafia bosses, acc. to a new monograph prepared for the Natl. Institute for Labor Relations Research (NILRR) by veteran journalist Carl Horowitz.  In the monograph, entitled Union Corruption in America: Still a Growth Industry, Horowitz writes that union crooks, although similar in many regards to other crooks, are unique in that “for decades [they] have had an unwitting assist from government.”

 

Under the 1935 Natl. Labor Relations Act, he explains, private-sector unions “reserve the right of exclusive representation in all 50 states.  That is, once a union is reckoned by a national labor agency to have the support of a majority of employees in a federally delineated ‘bargaining unit,’ the union speaks for all covered workers, regardless of their personal desires.  If a group of workers perceive their union to be Read More ➡

S. Florida Union Boss’s Racketeering Trial finally Begins

After 2 1/2 years, the racketeering trial of Walter Browne finally began on April 8.  Walter J. Browne runs the Federation of Public and Private Employees, a 7,000-member union of mostly blue-collar government employees such as school custodians, jailhouse guards and city truck drivers.  According to Asst. U.S. Attny. Lawrence LaVecchio, Browne solicited and took $500,000 from 8 companies during the 1990s in “consulting” fees to avoid unionization.

 

The president of Broward County‘s most powerful government employee union took payoffs from companies who didn’t want to be unionized, federal prosecutors charged in the opening day of the union boss’s racketeering trial.  Browne is also charged with giving his sister, Patricia Devaney, a union-owned car as a gift and charging the union for personal travel and phone calls. He also faces state charges for allegedly running a high-stakes poker game at the union hall.  Devaney Read More ➡

9-11 Lay-Off Fund Ripped Off

Tom Robbins of the Village Voice reports more disturbing details of a possible case of embezzlement from the AFL-CIO’s Long Island affiliate reported in the previous issue of Union Corruption Update.  The suspected theft of $150,000 apparently came from a union job training fund designed to help Long Island workers recover from post-9-11 layoffs.  Even more embarrassing, the suspect is a former office aide who is a close friend of longtime fedtn. president Jack Caffey.

 

Fedtn. Spokesman Mark Grossman said that an audit was under way, and also said there would be no comment by fedtn. officials until the audit is completed.  Last month, Caffey told an emergency meeting of his board that $50,000 was missing from the job training funds, and that a frmr. employee was making restitution payments.  But union sources familiar with the incident told Robbins that this was the second Read More ➡

Silicon Valley Union Accused of Embezzlement & Illegal Politicking

When she headed the South Bay AFL-CIO Labor Council (SBLC), Amy Dean was referred to as the “unofficial mayor” of San Jose, Calif.  She is now in Chicago, but she and her successor, Phaedra Ellis-Lamkins, are accused of fraud and embezzlement by a frmr. employee.  And they have repeatedly failed to disclose the tax forms of a non-profit organization that works closely with the labor council.

 

When Dean first took over as the South Bay council’s political director, she formed a non-profit group called Working Partnerships USA (WPUSA).  At first, SBLC provided free rent and labor to WPUSA.  As the grants came rolling in, that relationship shifted as WPUSA began paying SBLC for rent and administration — $439,000 between 2001 and 2003.  Dean and Ellis-Lamkins have refused to provide any records to confirm their claim that the two organizations operate at arm’s Read More ➡