Mary Hartsock is living proof that longevity with an employer is no guarantee of honesty.The ex-office manager for Laborers International Union of North America Local 1358, based in Elmira, N.Y., pleaded guilty on October 29 in U.S. District Court for the Western District of New York to embezzling $17,958 in funds.Hartsock, 49, a resident of nearby Millport, N.Y., had served in her position from 1980 until January 2007.Federal prosecutors charged that from January 2002 until her dismissal five years later, she converted union receipts to her own use by not depositing or reporting member dues payments.The guilty plea came as the result of an investigation by the Labor Department’s Office of Labor-Management Standards.(Elmira Star-Gazette, 10/30/07; OLMS, 11/1/07).
St. Louis Ex-Financial Secretary Pleads Guilty to Embezzlement
Gary Rodrigues and Robin Rodrigues Sabatini are a persistent father and daughter team.But persistence doesn’t necessarily pay off.And in their case, it probably shouldn’t.Late in August the U.S. Court of Appeals, 9th Circuit, rejected a request by the pair to have a larger panel of 15 judges rehear their appeal of convictions on dozens of charges, including mail fraud, money laundering and embezzlement.They had been accused of defrauding the 12,000-member United Public Workers, where Rodrigues had served as state director. Beginning in 1992, alleged prosecutors, Rodrigues funneled union “consulting” fees into his daughter’s two companies, in return receiving nonexistent work.
Thank God for tipsters.At least that’s what many members of Washington Federation of State Employees (WFSE) Local 491 probably are thinking now.Officials of the local, representing state-funded caregivers and other employees at the RainierSchool in Buckley (PierceCounty), Wash., have asked the state parent organization to look into allegations that one of its members recently stole funds. The probe was triggered by an anonymous phone call to the Tacoma News Tribune.Liz Larsen, director of administration for the WFSE, confirmed that her union is investigating the possibility of embezzlement.The state federation is affiliated with the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees.
Michael Pingatore was clever enough to evade detection – but only for a time.On July 23, the former secretary-treasurer of the Delaware Rural Letter Carriers Association pleaded guilty in federal court to stealing $58,908.38 from his union over a four-year period.Pingatore, 47, during 2002-06 had diverted association funds to a personal checking account by writing unauthorized checks to himself and by starting a credit card on a union bank account without approval.In all, said Assistant U.S. Attorney Robert Kravetz, Pingatore conducted dozens of transactions ranging anywhere from $12 to $6,727.At his hearing, he pleaded guilty to all six charges of embezzlement in exchange for a promise by prosecutors not to bring additional charges related to the thefts.The union represents about 400 letter carriers in the state.(Delaware Online, 7/23/07).
Maryland Local Treasurer Sentenced for Embezzlement
Fathers have a lot to teach their offspring, and unfortunately, that includes the finer points of stealing from a labor union.Escaping detection may be easy for a while, but if and when caught, the culprits aren’t likely to come up with too many convincing alibis.On June 11, a federal appeals court in Hawaii belatedly upheld mail fraud, money-laundering and embezzlement convictions of a powerful state labor chieftain and his daughter.Gary Rodrigues, former state director of the United Public Workers, an affiliate of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, had been sentenced in 2003 to more than five years in prison following his conviction the previous fall.His daughter, Robin Rodrigues Sabatini, received a sentence of three years and 10 months for helping her father defraud the union through her consulting firms.Each had been free while appealing their convictions.
On March 8, Keith H. Cook, former secretary-treasurer for United Transportation Union Local 620, was indicted in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois for embezzling more than $48,000 in union funds and making a false entry in union records.Local 620 represents employees of the Burlington Santa Fe Railway in Cicero, Illinois.(OLMS, 3/30/07).
Michigan Secretary-Treasurer Sentenced for Cover-up of Thefts
On October 10, David Taylor, former financial secretary for Carpenters Local 1402, pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia to one count of making false statements on the union’s reporting form.The statements were part of a scheme to cover up his embezzlement of $72,422 in union funds.The guilty plea follows an investigation by the Labor Department’s Office of Labor-Management Standards.(OLMS, 10/31/06).
Ex-Boss of Connecticut Union Pleads Guilty to Embezzlement
On August 10, Lorraine Payton, former president of the National Federation of Federal Employees, Veterans Administration Council, was indicted in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Louisiana on two counts of making false reports.Payton was accused of underreporting union income.According to the indictment, she reported getting $11,515 from the council in the fiscal year ending June 30, 2000, plus another $6,000 in calendar year 2001.Her actual incomes for the two periods, respectively, were $18,123 and $55,821, with secret payments going for checks, debit card and credit card transactions.The indictment follows an investigation by the Labor Department’s Office of Labor-Management Standards.(OLMS, 8/18/06; other sources).
On March 31, Donald Hutchinson, former financial secretary for Local 763-C of the Chemical Workers, was sentenced in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois to one year of supervision and three years probation for embezzling union funds.He was ordered to pay $103,248 in restitution to the local.The sentencing follows an investigation by the Labor Department’s Office of Labor-Management Standards.(OLMS, 4/29/06).
Kansas Financial Officer Sentenced, Another Pleads Guilty
On January 24, Vince L. Matthews was charged in U.S. District Court for the District of Kansas with one count of embezzling $93,298.28 from Sheet Metal Workers Local 29.The information count follows an investigation by the Labor Department’s Office of Labor-Management Standards.(OLMS, 2/16/06).
Indiana Secretary-Treasurer Pleads Guilty to Embezzling Funds