May America Live Long and PROSPER: Reining in Student Debt

The federal government is currently on the hook for over $1.35 trillion in higher education loans, over half of which has accumulated since 2009. A number of Capitol Hill lawmakers have come up with legislation to reduce public exposure in the event of a calamity: the Promoting Real Opportunity, Success and Prosperity through Education Reform Act, or PROSPER. The House Education and the Workforce Committee approved the bill in mid-December in a 23-17 party-line vote; the Senate now is taking up its own measure. The context underscores the unsoundness of the Obama-inspired higher education overhaul of 2010 that has played no small role in bringing about this situation.

Taking on debt to attend college or graduate school is a way of life. According to a quarterly Federal Reserve Board data base, fully 42.6 million U.S. adults by the close of 2017 owed an outstanding $1,366.9 trillion in federal student loan … Read More ➡

Building and Construction Trades Bookkeeper in West Virginia Indicted

On January 23, Joan Matthews, former bookkeeper for the Charleston Building and Construction Trades Council, was indicted in U.S. District Court for the Southern District of West Virginia for embezzling $183,667 in funds from the council, an affiliate of the AFL-CIO Building and Construction Trades Department. The charge follows an investigation by the Labor Department’s Office of Labor-Management Standards.… Read More ➡

Dallas-Ft. Worth Transport Workers Secretary Sentenced for $400K Embezzlement

On January 22, Matt Smith, former secretary-treasurer of Transport Workers Union Local 576, was sentenced in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Texas to 10 months in prison and one year of supervised release for embezzling funds from the Hurst-based union. He also was ordered to pay $300,848 in restitution and a $100 special assessment. Smith had pleaded guilty in October, two days after being indicted that month for embezzling $399,499. The actions follow an investigation by the U.S. Labor Department’s Office of Labor-Management Standards.… Read More ➡

Plumbers Office Manager in Arkansas Sentenced for $400K+ Theft

Jeni May Hughes ripped off hundreds of thousands of dollars over the course of more than a decade. She’s lucky to be facing incarceration for a far shorter stretch. On January 19, Hughes, former office manager for United Association of Plumbers and Pipefitters Local 155, was sentenced in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Arkansas to 30 months in prison and three years of supervised release for embezzling $428,874.47 from the Little Rock union. She also was ordered to make full restitution plus a $100 special assessment. Hughes had pleaded guilty last May after being charged the month before in a one-count information. The actions follow an investigation by the U.S. Labor Department’s Office of Labor-Management Standards.

Now 51, Jeni May Hughes, a resident of Jacksonville (Pulaski County), Ark., served as office manager of the roughly 900-member local for more than 15 years. Her duties included collecting and … Read More ➡

Ohio Glass Workers Secretary Sentenced for Embezzlement

On January 19, Guy Gokey, former financial secretary for Glass, Molders, Pottery, Plastics and Allied Workers Local 59, was sentenced in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Ohio to three years of probation, and ordered to pay $2,753 in restitution, for embezzling funds from the Toledo union. He had pleaded guilty last July to embezzling $14,074 after being charged in August 2016. The actions follow an investigation by the U.S. Labor Department’s Office of Labor-Management Standards.… Read More ➡

Steelworkers Treasurer in Wisconsin Charged with Embezzlement

On January 17, Cheryl Angell, former treasurer of United Steelworkers Local 2-144, was charged in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Wisconsin with one count of embezzling $98,711 from the Combined Locks (Fox Cities region), Wisc. union and four counts of filing false financial reports to conceal her thefts. Angell, a resident of nearby Kaukauna, allegedly stole the money during 2013-17. The charges follow a probe by the U.S. Labor Department’s Office of Labor-Management Standards.… Read More ➡

Texas GMP Local Secretary Sentenced for Embezzlement

On January 12, Norman Baker, former financial secretary of Glass, Molders, Pottery, Plastics and Allied Workers Local 220, was sentenced U.S. District Court for the Western District of Texas to two years of probation for embezzling funds from the Axtell (near Waco)-based union. He also was ordered to pay $4,249 in restitution, a $5,000 fine and a $100 special assessment. Baker had pleaded guilty in October to embezzling $8,310 after being charged in September. The actions follow an investigation by the U.S. Labor Department’s Office of Labor-Management Standards.… Read More ➡

Retail Workers Office Manager in Alabama Sentenced

On January 10, Angela Parrish-Wilson, former office manager for Retail, Wholesale, and Department Store Union (RWDSU) Joint Council 932, was sentenced in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Alabama to one month in prison and five years of supervised release for embezzling funds from the Birmingham-based union. She also was ordered to pay restitution in the amount of $38,057. Parrish-Wilson had pleaded guilty in July to one count each of embezzlement and bank fraud. RWDSU is an affiliate of the United Food and Commercial Workers Union. The guilty plea and sentencing follow an investigation by the U.S. Labor Department’s Office of Labor-Management Standards.… Read More ➡

The EB-5 Employment Visa: Mend It or End It

President Donald Trump’s State of the Union address last Tuesday night offered some sensible recommendations for immigration reform. Unfortunately, he omitted a few things – such as the need to fix the EB-5 visa program. The EB-5, authorized by the Immigration Act of 1990, allows persons from abroad who invest in a U.S. startup business to become lawful permanent residents. All too often, it is an invitation to fraud and self-dealing.

The EB-5 visa, intended to spur business development, offers a green card for immigrant small venture capitalists. The visa holder must invest at least $1 million in a “new commercial enterprise” or at least $500,000 if the enterprise is located in a designated Targeted Employment Area. Upon approval of a petition, the investor and dependent family members may obtain a green card. The investor must show that the investment has created or preserved at least 10 permanent domestic … Read More ➡

Genovese Mobsters Charged with Running Brooklyn UFCW Rackets

The Mafia might not control organized labor as it did decades ago, but don’t tell that to the feds. On January 10, five persons, each a member or an associate of the Genovese crime family, were indicted in Manhattan federal court for racketeering offenses dating back to 2000. Two of the defendants, Frank Cognetta and Vincent D’Acunto Jr., respectively, are secretary-treasurer of the Brooklyn-based Local 1D and Local 2D of the United Food and Commercial Workers. The charges follow a probe by the FBI, NYPD and Labor Department’s Office of Labor-Management Standards and Office of Inspector General. Edwin Stier, a former federal prosecutor, noted: “Nobody should ever assume, given the history of the New York metropolitan area, that we’re going to be rid of organized crime influence completely, no matter what law enforcement does.”

The Genovese mob has a long tradition of milking New York City-area labor unions for … Read More ➡

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