Michael Nelson's blog

Problems Continue at DC 37: $15 Million Stolen from Credit Union ATMs

Some 4,000 govt and health workers took advantage of electronic breakdowns after Sept. 11 to loot ATMs operated by the credit union used by members of District Council 37 of the Amer. Fed. of State, Cnty. & Municipal Employees Union (AFSCME), acc. to an indictment announced on Aug. 6 by NYC Dist. Attny. Robert Morgenthau.

Ex-Garment Union Bookkeeper in NE Penn. Confesses to Embezzlement

Seven years after the Intl. Ladies Garment Wrkrs. Union was merged into the Union of Needletrades, Industrial & Textile Employees, federal courts are still dealing with the leftover corruption. On July 23, a frmr bookkeeper for the garment union pled guilty  in the U.S. Dist. Ct. in Scranton to embezzling more than $28,000 from the union's now-defunct district council.

Diane Lewis used her position to steal funds from the N.E. Penn. Dist. Cncl. of the Ladies Garment Union from July 1995 to August 1997.  During that time, that union and the Amalgamated Clothing & Textile Workers Union (ACTWU) were merging to form UNITE. Lewis faces a maximum penalty of five years in prison, and a $250,000 fine. [U.S.A.O. M.D. Pa, 7/23/02]

9th Circ. Ct. of Appeals Blocks Unions Fee Demands for Undisclosed Politicking

The Natl. Right to Work Fdtn. announced on Aug. 2 that the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit ruled that local affiliates of the California Teacher Association (CTA) must provide teachers with an independent verification of how they spend employees' forced union dues.

With the help of attorneys with the National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation, the case was brought by San Jose teacher Kim Sheffield, and seven other California teachers, against the CTA and eight of its locals in March 2000. The Court of Appeals yesterday affirmed the U.S. District Court ruling that the locals cannot collect agency fees until they provide an independent verification of how their agency fees were calculated. Without an outside accountant's verification, non-members cannot determine whether they are being forced to pay for union activities unrelated to collective bargaining, such as the union's political agenda.

Ex Secy.-Treas. Indicted for Embezzling 3/4th of OH Local's Funds

Martin Mone, ex-Secy.-Treasurer of United Auto Wrkrs. (UAW) Local 1052 in Bedford, Ohio, was indicted July 24 on one count of union embezzlement and one count of falsifying union records. U.S. Attny. Emily Sweeney announced the indictment, which came in the U.S. Dist. Ct. in Cleveland.

According to the indictment, Mone embezzled $6,264 from the union in 2000 by issuing checks to himself, and falsifying the purpose of the checks on their memo lines. According to the union's LM-4 financial disclosure form filed with the U.S. Dept. of Labor, Mone also destroyed the Local's financial records. That form lists the union's total receipts in 2000 as $8,429. Mone's alleged embezzlement amounted to nearly 75% of 1052's funds that year. In 2001, Local 1052 was merged into UAW Local 70, also in Bedford. The embezzlement charge carries a maximum penalty of five years in prison and a $250,000 fine, while the falsification charge carries a amaximum of on year in jail and a $100,000 fine. [U.S.A.O. N.Dist. OH, 7/24/02:  DOL 8/8/02]

Ex-Bus. Agent Indicted in Pittsburgh for Embezzling Strike Funds

A federal grand jury  indicted a Butler man on August 7 for stealing more than $150,000 from his union from 1993 through 1998. John L. Dorrier Jr., former business agent for Operating Engineers Local Union 66, in Monroeville, is also accused of hiding his thefts from the IRS.

Beginning in January 1993, acc. to the indictment, Dorrier used his responsibility of reimbursing picketers by preparing expense vouchers for individuals who had done no picketing, then insisted on collecting the checks personally rather than having them mailed. Dorrier then allegedly forged the payees' signatures on the endorsement lines, and either cashed or deposited them into his account. To hide these payments from the IRS, Dorrier allegedly kept records of his fictitious picketers, and limited the amount "paid" to under $600 to avoid triggering the filing of 1099 tax forms. He also paid cash to relatives and friends that went unreported to the IRS. When some of the "picketers" began receiving 1099 tax forms, Dorrier paid them not to report the problem to the IRS.

Duo of Des Moines Officers Confess to $100K plus Theft

Two frmr. officers of Local 177 of the Laborers Intl. Union of N. America confessed in the U.S. Dist. Ct. for Sou. Iowa on July 25 to stealing more than $120,000 from the union's local and job-training funds.

Frmr. Bus. Mgr. Fred T. Risius and ex-vice-pres. Henry A. Jannnenga began their mutual crime spree in Nov. 1999, acc. to the Stipulation of Facts in the Plea Agreement. At month's end, Risius paid a union member $16,500, supposedly for materials he had sold to the Local's apprenticeship program. The member split the cash between himself, Risius and Jannenga.

Ex-Calif. Bay Area Chief Indicted for "Sham Charities"

A former Santa Clara County Sheriffs Lieutenant and ex-union president was indicted August 2 for trading on the union's name to raise funds for sham charities.

According to the indictment by a Santa Clara grand jury, Armand Tiano and 12 alleged co-conspirators engaged in grand theft, tax evasion and money laundering that involved at least $1.4 million. Among the false charities were two created after the 1998 slaying of Millbrae police officer David Chetcuti. Allegedly, Tiano and the others persuaded many people to write checks for the "Officer Chetcuti Fund" and the "Millbrae Officer Family Trust Fund." The widow, Gail Chetcuti, never received any of those funds.

In his heyday, Tiano oversaw the county jails, presided over the Santa Clara Deputy Sheriffs Assn; and twice campaigned for Sheriff. In 1993, Tiano incorporated his own fund-raising group, the Deputy Sheriiffs' Sports Assn, and contracted with two brothers, George and Matthew Kellner, who already owed the union $100,000 in charity fund-raising. The brothers then began paying off Tiano from the ostensible charity to take advantage of "his official position and contacts" acc. to the indictment.

WVa. Official Indicted for Embezzlement

On July 2, 2002, in Wayne County (West Virginia) court, Dwight D. Icenhower, former secretary-treasurer of Transportation Communication Workers Lodge 6455, was indicted on one count of embezzling $3,953.44 in union funds. The charges were brought following an investigation by the OLMS Pittsburgh District Office. [DOL]

OH Treasurer Charged w/ Embezzlement of Union Funds, Employee Benefits
On July 5, 2002, in the United States District Court for the Northern District of Ohio, John Mylek II, former treasurer of Plasters & Cement Masons Local 886, was charged in an information with embezzling $7,551.28 in union funds and $675 in employee benefit plan funds. The charges were brought following an investigation by the OLMS Cleveland District Office, the FBI, and the Department of Labor's Office of the Inspector General. [DOL]

Ore. Police Union Defends Officer Indicted for Domestic Abuse

Police union officials in Portland, Oregon, have rallied behind an officer indicted on July 25 for felony assault of a former girlfriend and falsification of police records.

According to the unidentified woman's affidavit, Michael Pimentel pulled her car over on June 26, 2001, without legal cause and berated her.  He allegedly showed up at her apartment the next day and refused to leave, slamming her finger in a window. The woman also charged that Pimentel seized her biceps, wrists, shoulder and breast, bruising her biceps. When the woman ran to her bedroom and locked the door, Pimentel forced it open and got into bed with her, acc. to the affidavit.  Later in the day, he tried to block her car with his body to prevent her from driving away and then allegedly followed her in his car until she drove to the precinct where Pimentel is assigned.

The alleged false entry and alteration of a police report is said to have happened between Aug. 11 and Sept. 1 of last year. Aug. 11 is also the date on which, according to the indictment, Pimentel allegedly harassed his girlfriend by subjecting her to offensive physical contact.

Frmr. Bookkeeper Stole $18K from Detroit-Area Union

On July 15, 2002, in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan, Lori Delaney, former  bookkeeper for Sheet Metal Workers Local 80 in Southfield, pled guilty to embezzling approximately $18,000 in union funds. The charges had been brought on February 6, 2002, following a joint investigation by the Detroit Office of the U.S. Labor Dept. Office of Labor-Mgmt. Standards and the Department of Labor's Office of the Inspector General. [DOL]

Ex-Official Admits $10K Embezzlement in Fresno, Calif.
Jeremias Lopez pled guilty on July 10 to embezzling about $10,800 from Laborers Intl. Union Local 220. She faces a maximum sentence of one year in prison and a $10,000 fine in the U.S. Dist. Ct. in Fresno. Lopez is also barred from employment or service with a union for 13 years.

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