Given what he and his partner in crime stole, Sergio Acosta may well be getting off lightly. Last Friday, April 6, Acosta, former president and then representative of the Edison, N.J.-based United Auto Workers Local 2326, pleaded guilty in Trenton federal court to a superseding information count for theft, embezzlement and fund conversion related to a scheme to defraud a union-sponsored health care plan and a Blue Cross Blue Shield affiliate out of a combined $6.6 million by recruiting hundreds of ineligible participants. He and Lawrence Ackerman, a New Jersey business executive, had been indicted in January 2017 following an investigation by the U.S. Labor Department’s Office of Labor-Management Standards, Office of Inspector General and Employee Benefits Security Administration.
According to prosecutors, Acosta, formerly a resident of New Jersey and now a resident of Puerto Rico, used his union positions, including that of benefit fund trustee, to coordinate an elaborate … Read More ➡
There’s a rich irony to last Monday’s announcement by Rep. Elizabeth Esty, D-Conn., that she would not seek reelection in the face of revelations that she had averted her eyes from clear evidence of sexual harassment occurring in her own office. For during these past several months, Rep. Esty has been an outspoken supporter of #MeToo, an ad hoc movement that went viral last October in the wake of growing accusations – or revelations, if one will – of harassment against women. While “serves her right” might not be the right response to Esty’s pending departure, it would be difficult to deny she embodies a certain hypocrisy underlying much of political feminism.
The phrase “me too” is a classic expression of group conformity. It’s also the hottest hashtag in America, a war cry of women speaking out against a putative conspiracy of silence on the subject of male-on-female sexual harassment. … Read More ➡
As if President Donald Trump isn’t facing enough challenges to his administration’s legitimacy, now he’s got another one. On March 28, U.S. District Judge Peter Messitte granted standing to a lawsuit by the attorneys general of the District of Columbia and Maryland alleging that the president, by continuing to profit from his Washington, D.C. hotel, is violating the constitutional ban on federal officials receiving gifts from domestic and foreign entities. According to Judge Messitte, his actions are causing “economic harm.” Yet evidence suggests that neither economics nor constitutional principle has much to do with this case.
Public officials in this country from the start have faced the pressure of being “bought and paid for.” Our Framers, recognizing the ever-present temptations of corruption, created safeguards to bar office holders from receiving presents, or “emoluments,” from outside parties. Article I, Section 6, Clause 2 of the Constitution, for example, bars sitting members … Read More ➡
The saga of Leslie Hoffman has been one of cuts, bruises, concussions and brain scans. And those may be the least of her problems right now. Hoffman, a retired movie and TV stuntwoman, for the last several years has been rebuffed by her union in repeated attempts to secure medical reimbursement for head, neck and other injuries she sustained in action sequences. The gatekeepers are officers of the Screen Actors Guild (SAG) health and retirement plan who seem bent on creating an inexhaustible list of pretexts on which to deny benefits in the face of her palpably damaged condition. Recent evidence in Ms. Hoffman’s lawsuit against the union suggests these roadblocks to receiving benefits in part are motivated by retaliation for her outspoken views on behalf of fellow stunt performers while serving as a member of the SAG executive board starting around the mid-Eighties.
Union Corruption Update covered this running … Read More ➡
Charles R. Smith Jr. kept two sets of books. And one of them proved far more trouble than it was worth. Last Tuesday, March 27, Smith, owner of a Sharon, Mass. demolition and asbestos abatement company, was sentenced in Boston federal court to six months of home detention in connection with his defrauding members of a Laborers International Union of North America (LIUNA) local out of nearly $800,000 in scheduled wages and benefits. Smith and his unionized firm, SMI Demolition Inc., also were placed on probation for two years and ordered to pay restitution. The defendants – effectively the same entity – had pleaded guilty this January to two counts of mail fraud following an investigation by the U.S. Labor Department’s Office of Inspector General and Employee Benefits Security Administration.
At bottom, this was a case of what is commonly called ‘double-breasting.’ Under this arrangement, a unionized contractor sets up … Read More ➡
The fallout from the Chrysler-United Auto Workers scandal continues. Just ask Nancy Johnson. Last Wednesday, March 21, Johnson, a former ranking UAW official, was slapped with a superseding indictment in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan for accepting tens of thousands of dollars in cash and other things of value from Chrysler executives for herself and an associate in return for dropping certain demands during collective bargaining sessions in 2015. The action follows an investigation by the FBI, the IRS and the U.S. Labor Department’s Office of Labor-Management Standards and Office of Inspector General.
Nancy Johnson not long ago was a real Detroit wheel. During 2014-16, she held the second most senior position at the UAW and was a member of the union’s negotiating team with Fiat Chrysler Automobiles. Unfortunately, she also could be bought. According to prosecutors, Johnson, now 57, a resident of Macomb, Mich., accepted … Read More ➡
Paul Moe didn’t show up for work that often, but he will be showing up for his incarceration. On Monday, March 26, Moe, a member of the International Longshoremen’s Association and the general foreman for a shipping company at Port of Elizabeth, N.J., was sentenced in Newark federal court to two years in prison and three years of supervised release for collecting a nearly $500,000 annual salary for an ostensibly full-time job performed part-time. He also was ordered to pay $749,000 in restitution. Moe had been convicted by a jury in October on 14 counts of wire fraud following a July indictment. The actions follow a joint probe by the U.S. Labor Department’s Office of Labor-Management Standards, Office of Inspector General and Employee Benefits Security Administration, plus the Waterfront Commission of New York Harbor.
Court records indicate that Moe, now 66, a resident of Atlantic Highlands, N.J., during September 2015-March … Read More ➡
When it comes to ethically compromised congressmen, Chicago seems to produce a bumper crop. Last Thursday, March 22, the House Ethics Committee released separate reports admonishing Reps. Bobby Rush and Luis Gutierrez, both Democrats from Chicago districts, for violating House rules concerning outside financial activities of members. The committee ordered Rush (in photo, on left) and Gutierrez (in photo, on right) to pay respective sums of $13,310 and $9,700 to the U.S. Treasury. The investigations were triggered by a probe by the independent Office of Congressional Ethics. Given the facts, the sanctions appear to be slaps on the wrist. The case of Gutierrez, who is retiring after the current term, is especially disturbing in the context of other conflicts of interest.
Bobby Rush, now in his 13th term, represents the 1st District of Illinois, which covers a large portion of Chicago’s South Side. To many, he is best-known … Read More ➡
On March 9, Kimberly Steinhoff, former secretary-treasurer of United Steelworkers Local 2-87, was sentenced in U.S. District Court for the Western District of Michigan to pay $10,651.52 in restitution, a $2,500 fine and a $25 special assessment for falsifying financial records of the Munising (Upper Peninsula), Mich.-based union. She had pleaded guilty in January after being charged last June with embezzling $12,751 in union funds. The actions follow an investigation by the U.S. Labor Department’s Office of Labor-Management Standards.… Read More ➡
On March 7, Milton Thomas, former shop chairman of United Auto Workers Local 890, was indicted in Cook County Court on one count of theft in an amount of between $10,000 and $100,000 from the Morton Grove, Ill.-based union. Thomas allegedly had made out unauthorized checks to himself and forged disbursement vouchers. The indictment follows a probe by the U.S. Labor Department’s Office of Labor-Management Standards.… Read More ➡