Donald Liburd was a cop and a union president. But that didn't make him immune to becoming a criminal as well. On November 12, Liburd, who had been president of the St. Thomas-St. John Police Benevolent Association (PBA) and a detective on the local police force, pleaded guilty in Virgin Islands Superior Court to embezzling $65,073 in union funds. He then was sentenced to four years in prison, of which three and a half years would be suspended, plus three and a half years of probation upon release. "This is a tragic circumstance when an officer sworn to uphold the law violates the law," said Superior Court Judge Michael Dunston. Liburd had been arrested this past March following a lengthy investigation. He had resigned his duties as PBA president in the summer of 2011.
They're called "neutrality agreements." Their supporters say they promote labor peace during union organizing drives. Yet too often these pacts grant a union a blank check to box in a targeted employer. Fittingly, not all workers are happy about this. On November 13, the U.S. Supreme Court heard arguments over the extent to which federal law allows a union to use a neutrality agreement to extract concessions. The case, UNITE HERE Local 355 v. Mulhall et al., has its origins in a complaint by an employee of a Florida dog track-casino following the employer's agreement with the union in 2004.
On November 5, Angela Webster, former office secretary for United Brotherhood of Carpenters and Joiners Local 943, pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Oklahoma to embezzlement of $13,015 in funds from the Tulsa-based union. She had been indicted in September. The actions follow a probe by the Labor Department's Office of Labor-Management Standards.
On November 1, Federck Petro, former president of American Federation of Government Employees Local 2094, was sentenced in U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York to six months of home confinement and three years of probation for embezzling $112,477 from the Manhattan union, which represents VA hospital employees. He also was ordered to pay full restitution and a $100 special assessment. Petro, who had served as local president during February 2006-July 2008, wrote nearly 200 unauthorized union checks for his own benefit. He had been arrested in December 2011, and pleaded guilty in February of this year following a joint probe by the Labor Department's Office of Labor-Management Standards and the Veterans Affairs Department's Office of Inspector General.
There's nothing wrong with a man spending money to make his lady feel special - as long as it's his own money. Richard Dressel apparently thought little of that principle. Earlier today, a Newark, N.J. federal jury convicted Dressel, the former business manager for International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local 164, on two of eight counts for his participation in various illegal schemes to benefit him, his unindicted girlfriend (and now-wife) Kathleen Libonati, and union president John DeBouter. Last November, Dressel and DeBouter were arrested and indicted for embezzling a combined roughly $350,000 from the Paramus, N.J.-based union and its Joint Apprentice Training Fund. DeBouter was relieved from trial last week after his lawyer collapsed from an aneurysm.
On November 1, James DeVolld, former financial secretary of International Union of Painters and Allied Trades Local 356, pleaded no contest in Zanesville, Ohio Municipal Court to theft in the sum of $2,375 from the Zanesville-based union. He then was sentenced to 10 days in prison, two years of probation, and was ordered to make full restitution. The actions follow an investigation by the U.S. Labor Department's Office of Labor-Management Standards.
On October 28, Michael Zaborski, former secretary-treasurer for United Transportation Union Local 1962, was sentenced in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Ohio to five years probation for embezzling $41,226.54 in funds from the Fremont, Ohio union. He also was ordered to pay outstanding restitution in the amount of $39,829. Zaborski had been indicted in May, and pleaded guilty in June. The actions follow an investigation by the U.S. Labor Department's Office of Labor-Management Standards.
On October 29, Jacob Barkemeyer, former chairman and treasurer of Brotherhood of Railroad Signalmen Local Lodge 172, was indicted in U.S. District Court for the District of New Mexico for embezzling $8,131 in funds from the Las Lunas, N.M.-based union. The indictment follows an investigation by the Labor Department's Office of Labor-Management Standards.
On October 22, Janet Posey and Linda Bland, respectively, president and former vice president of American Federation of Government Employees Local 2384, pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of West Virginia to receiving funds in an amount of less than $1,000 from the Clarksburg, W.Va.-based union and then concealing the thefts in union records. The pair had been indicted in August. The union represents employees of the Clarksburg VA Medical Center. The actions follow a probe by the Labor Department's Office of Labor-Management Standards.
Janel Phillips did a lot of job-related traveling. At least that's what her time sheets said. The reality was different. As a result, she'll have to serve some prison time. On July 2, Phillips, an ombudsman for Legal Aid of West Virginia, a Legal Services Corp.-affiliated nonprofit group, received a 10-month sentence in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of West Virginia for obtaining false reimbursements. The sentence will consist of five months each in the form of prison time and home detention. She also will have to make $85,327.74 in restitution. Phillips pled guilty on March 27.