On April 20, Charles Nelson, former treasurer for the National Council of Security Police, was indicted in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Washington on one count of embezzling more than $140,000 in funds from the Yakima-based union. The indictment follows an investigation by the U.S. Labor Department’s Office of Labor-Management Standards.
Assane Faye saw it as doing someone a favor. Federal prosecutors saw it as stealing. On May 10, Assane Faye, founder, president and executive director of the United Security and Police Officers of America (USPOA), was convicted by a jury in U.S. District Court for the District of New Jersey on two counts of embezzling more than $350,000 from the Washington, D.C.-based union and seven counts of unemployment insurance fraud. Immediately afterward, Faye was ordered by the court to relinquish his union post and remain under home confinement until sentencing. He had been indicted in March 2015 following a joint probe by the U.S. Labor Department’s Office of Labor-Management Standards and Office of Inspector General.
Come July 1 is D-Day. On that date, Puerto Rico is set to default on nearly $2 billion in general obligation bonds. In response, Congress is trying to wrap up legislation allowing the island to declare Chapter 9 bankruptcy on $18 billion of over $70 billion in outstanding debt. On June 9, the House passed the Puerto Rico Oversight, Management and Economic Stability Act, by 297-127. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., also vows action. A seven-member board will exercise oversight. Supporters insist the bill is a restructuring, not a bailout. Don’t believe them. Not only is it a bailout, it is of a type unavailable to the 50 states. Bondholders will pay. To its credit, the Supreme Court ruled 5-2 last Monday, June 13, that a Puerto Rican law inspiring the House bill violated the U.S. bankruptcy code.
On June 8, Jeffrey Velfing and John Crosby, respectively, former chief steward and former assistant steward of National Postal Mail Handlers Union Local 307, each pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court for the Western District of Michigan to one count of embezzling funds in the amount of $6,758 from the Detroit-based union. The pair had been indicted in April. The charges and guilty pleas follow an investigation by the U.S. Postal Service’s Office of Inspector General and the U.S. Labor Department’s Office of Labor-Management Standards and Office of Inspector General.
On May 3, Marcella Champion, former secretary-treasurer of American Federation of Government Employees Local 1831, pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia to one count of theft in the amount of $4,130 from the Washington, D.C.-based federal security employees union. She had been charged last November. The actions follow a probe by the Labor Department’s Office of Labor-Management Standards.
On May 5, Gregory Hill, former vice president of United Auto Workers Local 2297, was sentenced in U.S. District Court for the Western District of Louisiana to four years of probation, and ordered to pay $12,232 in restitution, for forging checks in an account in the name of the Shreveport union. Hill, along with another Local 2297 member, Danny Rawls, had been indicted in March 2015 on nine counts each. Hill pleaded guilty this January to one count of uttering and forgery in the amount of $581. Rawls already had pleaded guilty last September and was sentenced this February. The actions follow an investigation by the U.S. Labor Department’s Office of Labor-Management Standards.
It wasn’t as if Norman Seabrook needed the money. But in accepting it, he jeopardized the retirement of union members. Last Wednesday, June 8, Seabrook, president of New York City’s Correction Officers Benevolent Association (COBA), was arrested by FBI agents and charged with honest services fraud for receiving $60,000 in cash from an executive of a troubled Manhattan hedge fund, Platinum Partners, in exchange for steering $20 million in union pension money to the fund. Platinum Partners CEO Murray Huberfeld was similarly charged. Seabrook is out on $250,000 bond, but given his ouster by the COBA board, he doesn’t have much to do. U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara (in photo) termed this “a straightforward and explicit bribery scheme.” The actions are part of a wider probe into NYPD corruption.
Raul Mascote is a good example of the expression, “There’s a lot more where that came from.” On April 14, Mascote, former secretary-treasurer of International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers Lodge 2458, pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois to one count of embezzling funds in the amount of $62,263 from the Minooka (near Joliet)-based union. He had been charged last July following a joint investigation by the U.S. Labor Department’s Office of Labor-Management Standards and the U.S. Energy Department’s Office of Inspector General. Prosecutors had alleged Mascote knowingly had converted $510,973 worth of U.S.-government property to his personal use. This latter sum was not reflected in the original charge. However, pursuant to federal guidelines, it will be considered in determining his sentence.
The accusations looked suspicious from the start. And now federal as well as state prosecutors have debunked them. On June 1, U.S. Attorney Andrew Luger announced that he would not pursue civil rights charges against two white Minneapolis police officers in connection with the November shooting death of an unruly black suspect, Jamar Clark. The probe concluded there was insufficient evidence that the cops, Mark Ringgenberg and Dustin Schwarze, had violated Clark’s rights. The oft-repeated claim that Clark was shot while handcuffed and lying on the ground could not be substantiated. The decision follows an earlier one on March 30 by the Hennepin County D.A. not to file criminal charges. Black activists are livid. They would do well to review the details.
For 17 years, Raymond Fujii routed client money to his own pockets. But the deception couldn’t be maintained forever. On May 13, Fujii, formerly executive director for the Painting & Decorating Contractors Association of Hawaii, was sentenced in U.S. District Court for the District of Hawaii to 42 months in prison, to be followed by three years of supervised release, for conducting an elaborate fraud scheme against the association and a related Painters union entity, the Hawaii Painters Trade Promotion & Charity Fund, that totaled nearly $1.5 million. He also had been charged with federal income tax evasion. Fujii had pleaded guilty on January 27, one week after being charged. The actions follow a joint probe by the IRS and the U.S. Labor Department’s Office of Labor-Management Standards.