On June 12, Nathan McCallister, former secretary-treasurer of Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers and Trainmen Division 101, pleaded guilty in the Circuit Court of Summers County, West Virginia to one count of embezzlement in an amount of more than $1,000 from the Hinton, W.Va. union. McCallister had been charged in March following an investigation by the U.S. Labor Department’s Office of Labor-Management Standards.
On June 16, Timothy Casperson, former treasurer of National Association of Letter Carriers Branch 249, was indicted in U.S. District Court for the Western District of Michigan for embezzling $9,650 from the Menominee, Mich.-based union and falsifying financial records to conceal the thefts. The indictment follows a probe by the Labor Department’s Office of Labor-Management Standards.
On June 11, Pamela Nessen, former president of American Postal Workers Union (APWU) Local 286, pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Indiana to one count of embezzling funds from the Fort Wayne union in the amount of $58,598. Nessen, who headed the APWU local during November 2009-November 2013, had turned herself into police in January after being indicted by a grand jury last November. She originally had pleaded not guilty. The indictment and guilty plea follow an investigation by the Labor Department’s Office of Labor-Management Standards.
On June 8, Rodney Horne, former secretary-treasurer of United Government Security Officers of America (UGSOA) Local 34, pleaded guilty in the Circuit Court for Prince George’s County, Maryland to one count of theft from the Washington, D.C.-based union. He then received a sentence of five years of imprisonment, all of which was suspended, and 36 months of unsupervised probation, and ordered to pay $6,045 in restitution. The plea and sentence follow a joint investigation by the U.S. Labor Department’s Office of Labor-Management Standards and the Prince George’s County Police Department.
On June 11, Marcia Shull, former financial secretary of United Auto Workers Local 661, was sentenced in the Circuit Court of Hancock County, Indiana to 180 days of house arrest and 550 days of probation for felony forgery from the Greenfield, Ind.-based union. She also will have to pay $168 in fines and costs on top of the $18,250 she already has paid. Shull had pleaded guilty in May after being charged last September following a probe by the U.S. Labor Department’s Office of Labor-Management Standards.
For about six years, Helen Herold-Roden had mastered the art of stealing from her union. But it’s hard to beat the law of averages. Last Thursday, June 18, Herold-Roden, former secretary-treasurer of Communications Workers of America Local 7603, pleaded guilty (pre-indictment) in U.S. District Court for the District of Idaho to one count of embezzling $138,658 in funds from the Meridian, Idaho-based union, which represents employees of area telecom companies such as AT&T and Century Link. The guilty plea follows an investigation by the U.S. Labor Department’s Office of Labor-Management Standards. Sentencing is scheduled for September 8.
Whether one sees New Jersey Governor Chris Christie as confronting or punting, it’s hard to deny he knows a crisis when he sees one. The State Supreme Court sees one as well. On June 9, the Court ruled 5-2 that Christie was within bounds in delaying two years of contributions, nearly $2.5 billion, to the state’s chronically underfunded public-employee pension system. The ruling, a clear blow to the unions who brought forth the suit, for now averts a fiscal calamity. Critics claim that Christie, expected shortly to enter the Republican presidential race, broke a law he signed in 2011, passing the buck to his successors. Supporters counter that the ruling gives the legislature breathing room to fix a condition resulting from years of excessive union contract demands. The latter is a familiar story in other states, too.
On May 21, Michelle Dancy, former office manager with the Residuals Estates and Trust Department of the Screen Actors Guild, was charged in U.S. District Court for the Central District of California with four counts of embezzlement from the Los Angeles-based union totaling at least $54,109 and five counts of false identification in connection with the alleged thefts. The charges follow a joint probe by the U.S. Labor Department’s Office of Labor-Management Standards and Office of Inspector General.
On May 21, Dennis Fuston, former business manager for International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local 545, was sentenced in the Buchanan County (Missouri) Circuit Court to five years of probation, and ordered to pay restitution to the St. Joseph, Mo.-based union in the amount of $23,768 and a $25 assessment. Fuston had pleaded guilty in April to theft after being charged in February. The actions follow an investigation by the U.S. Labor Department’s Office of Labor-Management Standards.
Access to reliable, high-speed Internet is almost given in today’s America. But should it be subsidized? The Federal Communications Commission thinks it should, now more than ever. On May 28, FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler announced a proposal to expand the agency’s Lifeline program to include broadband Internet. Costing about $2 billion annually in recent years, Lifeline defrays the cost of landline or mobile phone service for low-income subscribers. Carriers and consumers share in the cost; Internet service providers soon may join them. Funding has risen so much under Obama that the program often is called 'Obamaphone.' Given the rampant fraud, the main issue would seem less the proper funding level than the program's very existence.