On April 11, Bonnie Nixon, former secretary-treasurer of International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers Local Lodge W443, pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Mississippi to embezzling $15,981.66 in funds from the Laurel-based union. She had been indicted in December. The actions follow an investigation by the U.S. Labor Department's Office of Labor-Management Standards.
On April 10, Jeffrey Beresford, business manager and financial secretary for United Association of Plumbers and Pipefitters Local 83, pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of West Virginia to falsifying records of the Wheeling local. The guilty plea follows an investigation by the Labor Department's Office of Labor-Management Standards.
On April 10, Joseph Grygorcewicz, former secretary-treasurer of United Transportation Union Local 1566, was sentenced in U.S. District Court for the Western District of New York to three years of probation and ordered to make full restitution for embezzling nearly $40,000 from the Tonawanda, N.Y.-based union during late 2009-early 2011. He also was ordered to undergo counseling for compulsive gambling. Grygorcewicz, a resident of Amherst, N.Y., had pleaded guilty last November. The union represents railroad workers in the Buffalo area. The actions follow a probe by the Labor Department's Office of Labor-Management Standards.
Considering the kind of people who belong, police unions typically aren't where theft happens. But Donald Liburd apparently wasn't typical. On March 15, Liburd, now 48, formerly the president of the St. Thomas-St. John, U.S. Virgin Islands Police Benevolent Association (PBA) and a detective on the local police force, was arrested for stealing more than $65,000 from the union during the three years he headed it. He had been removed from his position in the summer of 2011 by fellow union members. Following his arrest, Liburd was released on a $25,000 bond.
Among the criticisms leveled at the new Senate immigration bill is the secretive manner in which it was written. And given the details, it's hardly any wonder that the eight senators overseeing the proceedings - the "Gang of Eight" - refused to hold hearings or debate until after the bill's release. Tucked away in the measure are two sections that would route a combined $150 million or more to "public or private, non-profit organizations" that are "community, faith-based or other immigrant-serving." Recipient groups could use funds to aid potentially tens of millions of illegal immigrants and family members to obtain lawful permanent resident status and eventual citizenship.
On April 9, Grace Rathke, former office manager for Laborers International Union of North America Local 32, was sentenced in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois to 17 months in prison and three years of probation for embezzling more than $190,000 in funds from the Rockford-based union during November 2004-March 2009. She also was ordered to pay restitution in an amount exceeding $200,000. Rathke had been indicted in August 2011, and pled guilty this past January. The actions follow an investigation by the U.S. Labor Department's Office of Labor-Management Standards and Office of Inspector General.
On April 9, Richard Ikerd, former secretary-treasurer of American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees Local 2568, was sentenced in the Third Judicial Circuit Court of Wayne County, Michigan to 90 days in jail and five years probation for embezzling funds from the Melvindale, Mich.-based union in an amount between $1,000 and $20,000. He also was ordered to pay $16,065 in restitution plus fees totaling $1,198. Ikerd pled guilty last October after being charged in July. The actions follow a probe by the U.S. Labor Department's Office of Labor-Management Standards.
The coffers of Metal Polishers Local 8A-28A are due for replenishment. Members are hoping they don't have to wait too long. On April 9, Hector Lopez, former president of the Long Island City (Queens), N.Y.-based union, pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of New York to conspiracy to commit mail fraud, wire fraud and tax evasion, related mainly to his fleecing of a union benefit plan. He also will have to make restitution in excess of $1.1 million. Lopez had been arrested and indicted last September on 15 counts of fraud, embezzlement, tax evasion and other offenses following a joint investigation by the U.S. Department of Labor and the Internal Revenue Service.
Joseph Lombardo isn't a pro basketball player. But a number of people who play the game for a living aren't very pleased with his approach to managing their union's finances. Neither is the Justice Department. On Thursday, April 25, federal prosecutors in Manhattan announced the indictment and arrest of Lombardo for attempting to defraud the National Basketball Players Association (NBPA) of more than $3 million. Lombardo allegedly used his position as managing director of a Cleveland-area investment bank in 2011 to forge the signature of the deceased union general counsel as part of a service contract renewal, and then, with another firm employee, gave false testimony before a grand jury. The actions come in the wake of a unanimous vote by the NBPA board of player representatives in February to oust Executive Director Billy Hunter (in photo) following the release of an full-length audit.
On April 9, Patricia Race, former president of United Auto Workers Local 959, was sentenced in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Ohio to six months probation and ordered to pay a $250 fine for filing false financial data on behalf of the Fremont, Ohio-based union. She had been charged in November. No information is available as to the date of a finding or plea of guilt. The actions follow a probe by the U.S. Labor Department's Office of Labor-Management Standards.