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.
On December 17, Bernard Nolter, former secretary-treasurer of United Steelworkers Local 635, was sentenced in U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Pennsylvania to one year of probation for falsifying union records to conceal embezzlement of union funds. He already had made restitution in the sum of $7,262. Nolter pleaded guilty in August. The actions follow an investigation by the U.S. Labor Department's Office of Labor-Management Standards.
On December 12, David Kellner, former president of Transport Workers Union Local 2020, was sentenced in U.S. District Court for the Western District of New York to six months of home detention with electronic monitoring and two years of probation for making a false statement to conceal his embezzlement from the Grand Island, N.Y. (near Niagara Falls) union. He also was ordered to pay restitution in the amount of $12,226, a fine of $2,000 and a special assessment of $25. Kellner had pleaded guilty in September. The guilty plea and sentencing follow a probe by the U.S. Labor Department's Office of Labor-Management Standards.
Union Corruption Update several times during the past year has noted the fast-rising profile of 'worker centers.' Anyone doubting that these nonprofit groups in certain ways operate as unions all but in name should read a new monograph published by the Workforce Freedom Initiative, a project of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. Titled, "The Emerging Role of Worker Centers in Union Organizing: A Strategic Assessment" (see pdf), the report explains why these organizations have become crucial to a Left network dedicated to building an alternative model for labor and political organizing. It also identifies many of the tax-exempt foundations that provide funds. The author, Jarol Manheim, a political scientist at George Washington University, is the right person to do the job.
When Joseph Lombardo pleaded guilty in Manhattan federal court in November to fraudulently attempting to retain a service contract with the National Basketball Players Association (NBPA), there remained the issue of his employee, Carolyn Kaufman. That loose end was resolved last month. On December 11, Kaufman, a principal with the Independence, Ohio (suburban Cleveland) investment firm of Prim Capital Corporation, was found guilty in U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York of conspiracy to obstruct justice, obstruction of justice and perjury related to an illegal attempt by her boss to renew a multi-million service contract with the association. Lombardo had forged the signature of a deceased players' union general counsel and another union employee.
On November 15, Ronald Karr, former treasurer of International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local 2359, was charged in U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Ohio with embezzling funds in the approximate amount of $158,150 from the Sugar Grove, Ohio union. The charge follows a probe by the U.S. Labor Department's Office of Labor-Management Standards.