West Virginia BLET Secretary Indicted for Embezzlement

On March 6, Steven Brumit, former secretary-treasurer of the Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers and Trainmen (BLET), West Virginia Legislative Board, was indicted in Summers County, West Virginia Court on one count of embezzling $6,433.76 from the Teamsters-affiliated union, formerly located in Hinton, W.Va. In the scheme, Brumit wrote 13 unauthorized union checks to himself. The indictment follows an investigation by the Labor Department’s Office of Labor-Management Standards.… Read More ➡

Amtrak Police Union Officer Convicted of Wire Fraud

On March 2, Rocky DeFilippo, former delegate of Fraternal Order of Police Lodge 189, was convicted by a jury in U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York on one count each of wire fraud, conspiracy to engage in wire fraud and making false statements in a letter he had filed with his employer, Amtrak, in hopes of achieving back pay and a salary increase. DeFilippo, who has been involved in a bitter personal injury suit against Amtrak for the past year, had been charged last May. The union is based in Metuchen, N.J. The actions follow a joint probe by the U.S. Labor Department’s Office of Labor-Management Standards and the Amtrak Police Department.… Read More ➡

CWA Local Treasurer in Maryland Sentenced for Theft

On February 21, Fonda White, former secretary-treasurer of Communications Workers of America Local 2390, was sentenced in Prince George’s County Circuit Court to 10 years in prison (suspended), 90 days of home detention and five years of probation for theft of property from the Maugansville (near Hagerstown), Md.-based union in an amount of between $10,000 and $100,000. She also was ordered to pay $46,271.52 in restitution. White had pleaded guilty last November after being indicted in July on four charges. The union represents employees of Alcatel-Lucent (now part of Nokia) in various locations in Maryland, Virginia, West Virginia and Washington, D.C. The actions follow an investigation by the U.S. Labor Department’s Office of Labor-Management Standards.… Read More ➡

Teachers Union Treasurer in Montana Pleads Guilty to Theft

On March 1, Mackenzie Dworshak, former treasurer of Montana Teachers Local 6105, an affiliate of both the National Education Association and the American Federation of Teachers, pleaded guilty in Montana District Court, Lewis And Clark County, to embezzlement of funds from the Helena-based union. Dworshak had been charged last May with stealing $5,461 following a joint probe by the U.S. Labor Department’s Office of Labor-Management Standards and the Helena Police Department.… Read More ➡

Detroit Operating Engineers Boss Sentenced for Extortion

A decade ago, John Hamilton was a powerful labor leader. Now he’s about to experience the power of incarceration. Last Wednesday, March 14, Hamilton, former business manager and general vice president of International Union of Operating Engineers Local 324, was sentenced in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan to two years in prison for conspiring to commit extortion with at least two other Local 324 officials. He also was ordered to pay $250,000 in restitution to the people he shook down. Hamilton had been convicted last August after being indicted on nine counts for extortion, embezzlement and other offenses. The actions follow an investigation by the FBI, the IRS and the U.S. Labor Department’s Office of Inspector General and Employee Benefits Security Administration.

According to federal prosecutors, Hamilton, now 63, for the last few years a resident of Ocala, Fla., had demanded that business agents and members … Read More ➡

Civilian Technicians Secretary in Alaska Charged with Embezzlement

In mid-February, Timothy Smith, former secretary-treasurer for Association of Civilian Technicians Chapter 84, was charged in Anchorage federal court with embezzling more than $80,000 in funds from the union, which represents personnel at Elmendorf-Richardson Joint Air Force Base. The charge follows an investigation by the U.S. Labor Department’s Office of Labor-Management Standards.… Read More ➡

Treasurer of Wisconsin Deputy Sheriffs Union Charged with Theft

Joel Wagner took liberties with his union expense account once too often. On January 16, Wagner, treasurer of the Dane County Sheriff’s Association, was charged in Wisconsin state circuit court with two counts of theft and six counts of misrepresentation in the disappearance of about $10,000 in funds from the Madison-based union. Though Wagner had retired from the sheriff’s office early last year, the association had begun to probe his handling of finances in 2016. Wagner’s lawyer, Chris Van Wagner, says that Wagner is prepared to reimburse the union for “every dime that he had taken.”

According to the complaint, Joel Wagner, now 54, a resident of Sun Prairie, Wisc., engaged in acts of theft between sometime in 2011 and May 2016. By the latter year, after leaving his union post, union leaders had grown suspicious. Wagner’s successor, Greg Leatherberry, along with union president John Cahill, asked Wagner several times … Read More ➡

Seattle-Area Corrections Officer Charged with Embezzlement

Mike Music is a corrections officer. He soon may be an inmate. This past December, Music, a corrections officer with the King County (Wash.) Corrections Guild, was charged in King County Court with embezzling a little over $1,300 from his union, where he had served as treasurer. Yet the alleged sum is a pittance compared to the $150,000 that he and four other former members of the Tukwila (near Seattle)-based guild had been accused in 2016 of stealing. Music pleaded not guilty at his arraignment on January 8. The charge follows an 18-month investigation by Tukwila police.

According to prosecutors, Music, now 49, a resident of Tacoma and a 21-year veteran of the King County Corrections Department, made a series of suspicious transactions during late 2014 through September 2015 and which may have begun earlier than that. That’s because he had help from four other union members who, like him, … Read More ➡

Can Trump Drain the Swamp at the Bureau of Indian Affairs?

If ever a federal agency was ripe for termination, the Bureau of Indian Affairs should qualify for consideration. The bureau has a justly-earned reputation as a patronage machine for tribal leaders and their cronies. The Trump administration has been emphasizing its intent to reform the agency. Tribal sovereignty, the product of several 19th-century treaties, is a fact of life. But there are ways of “draining the swamp” that would not require abrogating any treaties.

The Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA), created in 1824 and housed under the Department of the Interior since 1849, has much to manage with its current $2.5 billion annual budget. There are 567 federally-recognized Indian and Alaska Native tribes representing about two million persons. Many live on reservations comprising 55.7 million acres. Each tribe elects its own sovereign government to oversee such activities as courts, schools, job training, health care, infrastructure and gambling casinos.

This … Read More ➡

Builder Sues NYC Unions for $100M+ Hudson Yards Ripoff

Union corruption long has contributed to cost overruns on urban real estate projects, especially in New York City where developers tend to think big. But area labor leaders now are getting some well-deserved comeuppance. On Monday, March 5, Related Companies, the general contractor of the Hudson Yards mega-development on Manhattan’s West Side, sued the Building and Construction Trades Council of Greater New York and its president, Gary LaBarbera, in State Supreme Court for actions that allegedly inflated costs by over $100 million. The defendants, reads the suit, were “condoning, if not actively participating in, various corrupt practices.” Allegations include tortious interference, time sheet fraud and wage fraud, the latter offense highlighted by a scam in which two union members received a wage of over $40 an hour for fetching coffee. Nice work if you can get it.

The Hudson Yards, a mixed-use complex under construction made possible through the … Read More ➡

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