On January 9, Don McMahon, former treasurer of Civilian Technicians Association Independent, Tennessee State Council for Air, was indicted in U.S. District Court for the Western District of Tennessee on eight counts of wire fraud against the Memphis-based union totaling $3,543. The indictment follows an investigation by the U.S. Labor Department's Office of Labor-Management Standards.
On January 9, Mark Valerio, former president of International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local 249 and executive board member of IBEW System Council U-7, was sentenced in U.S. District Court for the Western District of New York to one year of probation and 500 hours of community service for making false entries in union financial records to cover up embezzlement. The local is based in Geneva, N.Y. and the council is based in Johnson City, N.Y. Valerio also was ordered to pay restitution in the amount of $39,049 and a $500 fine. He had pleaded guilty in September. The actions follow a probe by the U.S. Labor Department's Office of Labor-Management Standards.
On January 8, Natasha Bever, former secretary-treasurer of Communications Workers of America Local 4202, was sentenced in U.S. District Court for the Central District of Illinois to one year and one day in prison and three years of supervised release for embezzling funds from the Rantoul, Ill. (near Champaign-Urbana) union. She also was ordered to pay the remaining $55,759 in restitution plus a $100 special assessment. Bever had been indicted in January 2013 on one count of embezzlement in the amount of $117,378, and pleaded guilty in June to stealing $149,404. The actions follow a probe by the U.S. Labor Department's Office of Labor-Management Standards.
On January 7, Michael Pontician, former financial secretary for United Steelworkers Local 480, was sentenced in U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Pennsylvania to two years of probation for falsifying union financial records in an effort to conceal his embezzlement of funds from the Pottsville (Schuylkill County), Pa.-based union. He also was ordered pay restitution in the amount of $2,626. Pontician had pleaded guilty in August. The guilty plea and sentencing follow an investigation by the U.S. Labor Department's of Labor-Management Standards.
It's a common news story these days: A bus on the highway crashes, resulting in multiple deaths and injuries. And the official cause is "driver fatigue." Sen. Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., backed by the Amalgamated Transit Union (ATU) and the AFL-CIO, has a bill, the Driver Fatigue Prevention Act (S.487), to reduce such tragedies by extending the Fair Labor Standards Act's overtime pay provisions to intercity bus drivers. For over 50 years the Department of Transportation has precluded overtime laws from applying to such travel. The ATU in recent weeks has stepped up pressure for passage of the bill, unveiled last March.
On December 19, Mark Gilbert, former financial secretary of United Steelworkers Local 805, was sentenced in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Kentucky to 60 days in prison to be followed by three years of supervised release for embezzlement of $8,467.10 in funds from the Florence, Ky.-based union. He also was ordered to pay full restitution and a $100 special assessment. Gilbert had been indicted last June, and pleaded guilty in August. The actions follow an investigation by the U.S. Labor Department's Office of Labor-Management Standards.
Hector Lopez is paying a high price for using his union as a private slush fund. And it's doubtful that too many members are feeling too badly. On November 21, Lopez, former president of Metal Polishers Local 8A-28A, an affiliate of the International Union of Painters and Allied Trades (IUPAT), was sentenced in Brooklyn, N.Y. federal court to four years in prison for masterminding mail and wire fraud schemes and for filing false tax returns. He also was ordered by U.S. District Judge Allyne Ross to pay $800,371 in restitution to the Queens union and forfeit another $371,517 to the government. Lopez, who was arrested and indicted in September 2012 following a joint U.S. Department of Labor-Internal Revenue Service probe, had pleaded guilty last April.
On December 18, Simiel Campbell, former president of Transport Workers Union Local 2014, was indicted in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois on one count of embezzling $19,433 in funds from the Chicago union. The indictment follows an investigation by the U.S. Labor Department's Office of Labor-Management Standards.
It was a busy three days for Office and Professional Employees International Union (OPEIU) Local 12. On December 17, Laurie Hoffman, former bookkeeper for the local, was charged in U.S. District Court for the District of Minnesota with embezzling funds from the Roseville (Minneapolis-St. Paul area) union, and with aiding and abetting illegal activity. The following day, December 18, she pleaded guilty to theft in the amount of $8,909. On that latter day, Elizabeth Branca, former Local 12 business manager, was charged with embezzling $16,546 in union funds and with aiding and abetting. She pleaded guilty on December 19. The charges and guilty pleas in both cases follow a probe by the U.S. Labor Department's Office of Labor-Management Standards.
James Hedges III had personal expenses. Unfortunately, he relied on his union to pay for them. Earlier this month, Hedges, former treasurer for United Transportation Union Local 201, was charged in U.S. District Court for the District of Colorado with embezzling $17,500 in funds over a four-year period from the Pueblo-based union. In addition, he was charged with filing false annual financial reports with the U.S. Department of Labor. Local 201 represents about 40 employees of BNSF Railway Company in La Junta and Trinidad, Colo., which, like Pueblo, are located in the southeast part of the state.