Michael Nelson's blog

No Restitution for 2 Embezzlers

Two former union bosses embezzled more than $74,000 from Oil, Chemical & Atomic Workers Local 1-5476 in Lawndale, Cal. and were incarcerated Sep. 3 after pleading guilty Aug. 24. Former int’l rep. Kevin Geddes and secretary-treasurer Robert Redmerski filed false “lost time” claims for reimbursement. According to the Labor Dep’t, the scheme induced local stewards to file false claims and turn over union reimbursements to Geddes, and Redmerski knowingly approved and paid the false claims. Geddes was sentenced to 3 months in prison, 3 months in a halfway house and 3 years probation and was ordered to obtain substance abuse and psychiatric treatment. Redmerski was sentenced to 6 months in a halfway house and 3 years probation. Fines and restitution of union members’ lost funds were waived in exchange the for guilty pleas, as were conspiracy and extortion charges. [BNA 9/4/98]

Nevada Boss Indicted for $72K Theft

Johnie M. Williams, former secretary-treasurer of the Am. Fed’n of Gov’t Employees Local 1199 was arrested Aug. 27 on charges that he embezzled over $72,000 from AFGE. A federal grand jury in Nev. indicted him on 162 counts of embezzlement from AFGE’s bank accounts and 3 counts of filing false financial reports with the Labor Dep’t. The 1993-96 scheme entailed checks written to cash, Williams and personal creditors. [Las Vegas Rev.-J. 8/29/98]

Md. Boss Pleads Guilty to Cover Up
 John Mosley, former treasurer of AFGE Local 29 in Clinton, Md., pled guilty Aug. 24 to making false statements to the government to cover up his personal use of union funds. He controlled union finances, conducted all business in cash and maintained virtually no records from 1988 to 1996. He took around $40,000 from union coffers for his own use. Mosley faces 5 years in prison and a $250,000 fine. [Wash. Times 8/25/98] 

Two Turn on Boss, Make Deal to Save Themselves

Daniel J. Bielat and William P. Yarma settled embezzlement charges Aug. 27 with a federally appointed investigator, leaving Frank H. Ervolino, Buffalo-area union boss, the sole target of a federal investigation. After helping Ervolino run 3 locals, Bielat and Yarmal made agreements that dropped embezzlement charges against them. The investigator, Kurt W. Muellenberg, was appointed under 1995 settlement of racketeering charges against the Hotel Employees & Restaurant Employees Int’l Union.

Muellenberg will decide by Oct. if he will proceed with charges that the Ervolino family funneled hundreds of thousands of dollars of union funds into their own pockets in 1990-95. Allegedly, Ervolino collected $1.5 million from the unions in salary and pension benefits; his wife collected $529,610 and his daughter $246,018. Sources included unauthorized raises and bonuses, and according to the charges, Ervolino benefited from union-paid insurance policies and entered into deals between the union and businesses run by his family.

Coia Accused of Favoritism in Union Election

General President of the Laborers Int’l Union of North Am., Arthur A. Coia, was accused in a lawsuit filed Aug. 28 in U.S. District Court of helping allies of a corrupt and ousted boss gain an unfair advantage in an upcoming election. Just before LIUNA Local 190 in Albany was to begin filling the vacancy left by ousted business manager Samuel Fresina, a legal battle erupted over allegations that Fresina’s loyalists were attempting to control the outcome. Fresina was forced out last month due to alleged ties to organized crime (see: UCU 1.6 8/24/98).

Carmen Francella, Jr., a candidate for the job, filed the suit seeking the nomination meeting be postponed until late-Sep. The complaint said he was denied membership lists that prevent him from properly campaigning and that he has been personally threatened. The nominations meeting was moved from its longtime location in Albany to LIUNA offices in Glenmont. Francella’s suit alleges that the meeting would violate LIUNA’s constitution and that Coia was wrongfully aiding Fresina’s supporters.

KY Election Scandal Update

Teamsters Local 89 and the Kentucky Democratic Party are now seeking to block all indictments by the grand jury investigating the Teamsters' connection to the 1995 election of Gov. Paul Patton (D). Consideration of indictments began Aug. 17. The action is the latest in the investigation and legal battle into whether Patton's campaign circumvented spending caps with the help of the Teamsters and AFL-CIO. Also, the campaign work of Patton labor aide, Danny Ross, for the Teamsters between stints on the state payroll, is being probed. [Louisville Courier-Journal 08/19/98]

Boss Indicted for Embezzling $25K

The now-former business manager/secretary-treasurer of the Int'l. Brotherhood of Boilermakers Local 92 in Bloomington, CA, was indicted Aug. 12 by a federal grand jury for embezzling $25,000 from the union. Labor Department investigators estimate the total embezzlement closer to $52,000. According to the U.S. Attorney's Office, Manuel Lujan allegedly charged personal expenses, including airfare and hotels, on the union's credit cards and made unauthorized withdrawals from its bank account. [City News Service 8/12/98]


Boss Embezzled from UMW
Joseph Volansky was sentenced Aug. 6 in U.S. District Court in Pittsburgh to 3 years probation and ordered to pay a $1,000 fine for embezzling from the United Mine Workers. According to the U.S. Attorney's Office, the UMW District 4 Secretary-Treasurer took an undisclosed amount by falsifying financial records and illegally using union credit cards. He was barred from union office for 13 years. [Pittsburgh Post-Gazette 8/7/98]

Hollywood Boss Indicted

Hollywood's Int'l. Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local 45 allegedly had over $63,000 embezzled from it by business manager James E. Jackson. He was indicted Aug. 14 on 46 counts in U.S. District Court. According to court records, Jackson used IBEW's credit card for unauthorized non-union purposes such as Caribbean cruise tickets, airline and hotel expenditures for family and friends, jewelry and a $3,200 fur coat. IBEW also paid his unauthorized auto allowances, expenses and insurance and paid 4 years of his adult daughter's health insurance. [City News Service 8/14/98]

NY Boss Resigns Over Ethics Violations

Laborers Int'l. Union of North America's NY political action committee chairman Samuel Fresina resigned Aug. 6 after W. Neil Eggleston, LIUNA's in-house appeals officer (and personal attorney for Bill Clinton and Labor Secretary Alexis Herman), upheld findings against Fresina for "ethical violations." Fresina, not directly accused of mob ties, had his PAC give money to Genovese crime family associate Salvatore Lanza. The case revived allegations of Fresina's ties to the Todaro crime family. The disciplinary action, brought by LIUNA's in-house prosecutor Robert D. Luskin, bans Fresina from union office for 5 years and orders him to repay the PAC $50,000. But, recent questions about Luskin's qualifications, motives and possible conflicts-of-interest raise concerns about his objectivity in this case. Fresina also resigned Aug. 13 as business manager of Albany's Local 190. Apparently, no criminal or civil legal action has been taken against him. [Albany Times-Union 8/7/98 & 8/14/98]

Acting-President Sever Reprimanded

Election Officer Michael G. Cherkasky found Teamsters Secretary-Treasurer and acting-President Tom Sever committed "very serious" violations of union rules by retaliating against union officials opposed to Sever's continuation in office. Sever stripped duties from presidential candidate Tom Leedham and two others. Cherkasky ordered Sever and an aide to halt retaliatory actions, but he stopped short of barring Sever from reelection. [Detroit News 8/18/98]

A Fourth, Blitz, Pleads Guilty in Teamsters Scandal

Charles Blitz, a CA businessman and liberal campaign fundraiser, pled guilty Aug. 17 in U.S. District Court to lying to a court-appointed election monitor about the money-laundering schemes that ruined Teamsters President Ron Carey. Blitz is the 4th person to plead guilty. Blitz faces 5 years in prison and a $250,000 fine. He is scheduled to be sentenced Dec. 2. No one involved in the scandals has been sentenced to date. [Detroit News & Newsday 8/18/98]

According to court records, the scheme, that Blitz was a part, illegally raised $110,000 and $75,000 for "Teamsters for a Corruption Free Union" from the liberal Citizen Action and Project Vote, respectively. In return, the Teamsters "donated" $475,000 to Citizen Action and $175,000 to Project Vote. An additional $85,000 to the National Council of Senior Citizens garnered $42,500 for Carey. The total, $227,500, covered Carey's direct mail expenses.

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