Carl Horowitz's blog

Convicted NYC Bus Drivers Union Boss Pleads Guilty to New Offense

School busWarren Annunziata officially ceased to lead United Craft and Industrial Workers Union Local 91 several years ago. His problem these days is not being able to accept that. On November 24, Annunziata pleaded guilty in Brooklyn federal court to violating a federal ban on union participation by union officials and trustees convicted of serious corruption offenses. And Annunziata was corrupt. Back in 2010, he had pleaded guilty to forcibly extracting more than $600,000 in cash payments from bus companies that provide transportation for public school students in New York City and parts of neighboring Westchester County, N.Y. His prison sentence apparently wasn't enough to keep him from collecting handsomely at the expense of dues-paying members.

Boston Teamsters Convicted of Extortion, Racketeering

Teamsters logoInternational Brotherhood of Teamsters Local 82 over several years perfected the art of the shakedown. In response, a federal jury has created a shakeup. On November 19, after a seven-week trial, John Perry and Joseph "Jo Jo" Burhoe, respectively, ex-president and representative of the now-defunct Boston local, were convicted on various counts of racketeering and conspiracy related to extortion at Boston trade shows. They and two other union members, James "Jimmy the Bull" Deamicis and Thomas Flaherty, allegedly forced exhibitors to provide cash and/or union jobs as a prerequisite for having their trucks loaded and unloaded, and their booths set up. The jury could not reach a verdict on Deamicis; it acquitted Flaherty. The defendants had been indicted in September 2012 following a joint investigation by the FBI, the U.S. Department of Labor, and Boston police.

Wisconsin AFGE Local President Pleads No Contest; Sentenced

AFGE logoOn November 5, Christopher Zawikowski, former president of American Federation of Government Employees Local 3495, pleaded no contest in the Adams County, Wisconsin District Court to one count of theft in an amount of less than $2,500 from the Grand Marsh, Wisc.-based union. He then was sentenced to one year of probation and was ordered to pay $1,400 in restitution. Zawikowski had been charged in July 2013. The actions follow an investigation by the U.S. Labor Department's Office of Labor-Management Standards.

Former Bricklayers Treasurer in Ohio Pleads Guilty to Theft

Bricklayers logoOn November 4, Brian Stoneburner, former treasurer for International Union of Bricklayers and Allied Craftworkers Local 44, pleaded guilty in the Perry County, Ohio Court of Common Pleas to one count of grand theft in the amount of $13,235 from the Newark, Ohio union. Stoneburner had been indicted in July. The actions follow an investigation by the U.S. Labor Department's Office of Labor-Management Standards.

SEIU Local Secretary-Treasurer in Ohio Sentenced

Service Employees logoOn October 23, Rena Opre, former secretary-treasurer for Service Employees International Union Local 323, was sentenced in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Ohio to paying a $250 fine and a $25 special assessment for falsifying financial records of the Chicago-based union. Opre, a resident of Toledo, had pleaded guilty in May after being charged in March. The actions follow an investigation by the Labor Department's Office of Labor-Management Standards.

Postal Workers Treasurer in South Dakota Indicted for Embezzlement

APWU logoOn November 4, Susan Haugen, former treasurer of the South Dakota chapter of the American Postal Workers Union (APWU), was charged in U.S. District Court for the District of South Dakota with three counts of embezzling $36,309 in funds from the Huron, S.D.-based union. According to the grand jury indictment, Haugen, now 55, during May 2010-March 2014 made about $25,000 in unauthorized cash withdrawals and spent another $11,000 with the union credit and debit cards, all for personal expenses. The charges follow a probe by the Labor Department's Office of Labor-Management Standards.

BLET Secretary in Chicago Charged with Records Fraud; Pleads Guilty

BLET logoOn November 3, Kimberly Hesla, former secretary-treasurer of the Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers and Trainmen Division 474, pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois to falsifying financial records of the Chicago union. She had been charged a week earlier on October 27. The actions follow an investigation by the U.S. Labor Department's Office of Labor-Management Standards.

Maintenance of Way Secretary in Kansas City, Mo. Pleads Guilty

Maintenance of WayBrotherhood of Maintenance of Way Employees Lodge 800 is almost depleted of its funds.  And that has a lot to do with the employee who not too long ago handled them. On October 29, Jeremy Bolte, formerly lodge secretary-treasurer, was charged in U.S. District Court for the Western District of Missouri with embezzling more than $12,000 from the Kansas City, Mo. union. He then pleaded guilty to 10 counts of embezzlement. The actions follow a probe by the U.S. Labor Department's Office of Labor-Management Standards. The union represents Kansas City-area employees of BNSF Railway.

New Jersey ILA Building Contractor Sentenced for Fraud

Longshoremen at workRaymond Norville was a home renovation contractor. Somehow he took that to mean a right to take client money without necessarily doing renovations. On November 18, Norville, owner of an Essex County, N.J.-based construction firm, RRL Unique Homes Inc., was sentenced in Trenton federal court to 14 months in prison, plus three years of supervised release and full payment of restitution, for defrauding a customer in New York City of nearly $100,000 in connection with a residential remodeling project. As part of a plea agreement in June, prosecutors dismissed charges that Norville defrauded the Newark-based International Longshoremen's Association Local 1233 of at least $100,000. Norville was lucky. Evidence strongly suggests his union thefts totaled around $370,000.

AFGE Local President in Tennessee Charged with Fraud

AFGE logoOn October 15, Shiryll Durham, former president of American Federation of Government Employees Local 1687, was charged in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Tennessee with two counts of mail fraud totaling $2,651 against the Mountain Home (a section of Johnson City), Tenn. union. The indictment follows an investigation by the U.S. Labor Department's Office of Labor-Management Standards.

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