On February 26, Patrick Rommevaux, former business representative for International Union of Elevator Constructors Local 62, was sentenced in Onondaga County Court, N.Y. to five years of probation and ordered to pay a $2,000 fine, for grand larceny in the amount of $16,545 from the Syracuse-based union. He previously made full restitution. Rommevaux had pleaded guilty in December immediately after being indicted. The actions follow a probe by the Labor Department’s Office of Labor-Management Standards.
On February 23, Benjamin Stancil, secretary-treasurer of American Federation of Government Employees Local 451, was charged in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of North Carolina in a four-count information with wire fraud against the Havelock, N.C. (near New Bern) union. The charge follows a probe by the U.S. Labor Department’s Office of Labor-Management Standards.
On February 19, Malkia King and Adrian Lindsay, respectively, former president and vice president of the Benefit Fund Staff Association (BFSA), were charged in U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York with embezzling funds from the New York City-based union in an amount of roughly $25,000. The BFSA, with more than 600 members, is part of the powerful and politically-connected Service Employees International Union Local 1199, which represents health care workers in New York City and elsewhere in the northeast. The charges follow an investigation by the U.S. Labor Department’s Office of Labor-Management Standards.
On February 18, Alton Alexander, former financial secretary of United Steelworkers Local 2-479, pleaded guilty in the 8th District Court of Kalamazoo County, Michigan to one count of misdemeanor embezzlement in an amount of between $200 and $1,000 from the Plainwell, Mich.-based union. He then was sentenced to six months of probation and ordered to pay $2,553 in restitution, $300 in probation costs and a $100 fine. He previously had paid restitution in the amount of $1,653. Alexander had been charged last September. The actions follow a probe by the U.S. Labor Department’s Office of Labor-Management Standards.
In sports, there is a saying: “There’s nothing worse than a tie.” For public-sector unions, however, a tie is now reason to celebrate. Yesterday the U.S. Supreme Court announced it was deadlocked 4-4 over whether public-sector labor unions have the authority to force nonmembers to pay partial dues (“agency fees”) to keep their jobs. The tie, made possible by the February death of Justice Antonin Scalia, removed the likely deciding vote in favor of the plaintiffs, the leader of whom was a California teacher, Rebecca Friedrichs (in photo). During oral arguments in January, a 5-4 win for the plaintiffs appeared certain. The Court did not reschedule the case, and in so doing, left intact a dismissal of the plaintiffs’ claims by a federal appeals court. Mandatory fees remain a fact of life.
Shelly Sutton spent a lot of time stealing from her union. She’s now likely to do some hard time. On February 17, Sutton, former treasurer of American Federation of Government Employees Local 477, pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court for the District of Kansas to one count of bank fraud in the amount of $93,094. The Wichita-based union represents employees at the local VA hospital. She had been indicted last November for stealing $65,000 in union funds. The actions follow an investigation by the U.S. Labor Department’s Office of Labor-Management Standards.
On February 17, Danny Rawls, former member of United Auto Workers Local 2297, was sentenced in U.S. District Court for the Western District of Louisiana to one year of probation and ordered to pay restitution in the amount of $3,208 for concealing acts of theft in financial records of the Shreveport union. He had pleaded guilty in September after being indicted in March 2015. Rawls and Local Vice President Gregory Hill had been charged with embezzlement and forgery totaling more than $12,000. The actions followed a probe by the U.S. Labor Department’s Office of Labor-Management Standards.
When Bruce Dow resigned under pressure as longtime head of the Screen Actors Guild’s pension and health plans in April 2012 amid allegations of extensive self-dealing, a good deal of unfinished business remained. Now the workload has gotten smaller. On November 12, former plan chief information officer Nader Karimi pleaded guilty in Los Angeles federal court to omitting more than $700,000 in income on his tax returns for the years 2005 through 2008. Karimi had changed his “not guilty” plea to “guilty” before U.S. District Judge Fernando Olguin. Sentencing, originally set for March 11, has been reset for April 14. He faces up to three years in prison. The plea follows a probe by the FBI, the IRS, and the Labor Department’s Office of Inspector General and Employee Benefits Security Administration.
Educators have been responsible for some of the more flagrant cases of union corruption in recent years. Patrick Santeramo, for one, doesn’t need any reminders of that. On January 20, Santeramo, former president of the Broward Teachers Union, the Broward County, Florida affiliate of the American Federation of Teachers, was convicted by a state jury on various theft, fraud, money laundering, and campaign finance violations. Only weeks later, on February 12, he pleaded guilty in Fort Lauderdale federal court to one count of mail fraud.
On February 16, Karen McJimpson, former executive vice president of Communications Workers of America Local 4004, pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan to one count of failure to maintain records of the Detroit-based union. She had been charged earlier that day in a superseding information count following an August indictment for embezzlement of about $19,000 in union funds. The actions follow an investigation by the U.S. Labor Department’s Office of Labor-Management Standards.