John Brennan embezzled union funds to enhance his life. The stress of having been found out very likely contributed to his death. On March 19, Brennan, former secretary-treasurer of International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees Local 23, was indicted in U.S. District Court for the District of Rhode Island on 13 counts of stealing more than $74,000 in funds from the Providence union. The charges had followed a joint investigation by the Labor Department's Office of Labor-Management Standards, Office of Inspector General and Employee Benefits Security Administration. Sadly, only a couple weeks later, on April 3, the Providence Journal reported his death, which had occurred on March 29. A spokesman for the U.S. Attorney's Office in Providence confirmed to NLPC that the John Brennan indicated in the obituary was the same person named in the indictment. No cause of death was given.
On October 3, Ira Alper, former treasurer of International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees District 9, pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois to one count of embezzling $76,768 in union funds. He had been charged in August. The district council is based in Madison, Wisconsin, but Alper had committed the theft in Illinois, thus explaining the prosecution occurring in the latter state. The actions follow a probe by the U.S. Labor Department's Office of Labor-Management Standards.
On August 5, Ira Alper, former treasurer of International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees District 9, was charged in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois for embezzling union funds in the amount of $76,768. The charge was filed in Illinois, though IATSE District 9 is based in Madison, Wisconsin. The charge follows a probe by the U.S. Labor Department's Office of Labor-Management Standards.
On February 13, John McNamee Jr., president of the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees Local 829, was sentenced in U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York to 12 months in prison and two years of supervised release for embezzling $150,000 from the New York City union. He was indicted last February and pleaded guilty in October following a probe by the U.S. Labor Department's Office of Labor-Management Standards. McNamee originally had been charged with stealing nearly $250,000 and filing false reports to conceal the thefts. The case is separate from a U.S. Department of Labor civil suit against local pension plan trustees, alleging more than $3 million in illegal transactions and failure to perform due diligence in managing another $11 million in assets.
On October 16, John McNamee Jr., president of International Alliance of Theatrical State Employees Local 829, pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York to embezzling $150,000 from the New York City-based union. He had been indicted in February for making about $240,000 in unauthorized charges on union credit cards and concealing the thefts by filing false financial reports to the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL). The local represents exhibition workers at New York-area sports and entertainment events. This criminal case is separate from an active civil suit filed in March by DOL against trustees of Local 829 benefit plans alleging gross mismanagement in the millions of dollars. The indictment and guilty plea by McNamee in the criminal case follow a probe by DOL's Office of Labor-Management Standards.
For more than seven years, John McNamee, Jr. avoided getting caught. Then reality caught up. On February 15, McNamee, formerly president and secretary-treasurer of Stage and Picture Operators Local 829, an affiliate of the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees (IATSE), was indicted in Manhattan federal court on charges of embezzling nearly a quarter-million dollars from the New York City union and filing false financial reports. The following day, on February 16, he was arrested and arraigned. The union is also on the hot seat in a much more expensive way. On March 14, the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) filed suit against the trustees of the local pension plan, alleging they had conducted more than $3 million worth of illegal transactions since 2006 and had failed to perform due diligence in managing another $11 million in assets.
Paul Wyatt's personal trauma was real. Unfortunately, so were his acts of theft. Wyatt, formerly president and business manager of Stage and Picture Operators Local 220, was sentenced in federal court on September 13 to six months in prison, plus six months of home confinement and three months of probation, for embezzling more than $35,000 from the Sioux Falls-based union. He also will have to make full restitution. Wyatt originally pleaded not guilty this May, but changed his plea to guilty.
If Broadway shows have gotten unusually expensive, one major reason is the dominant presence of International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees (IATSE) Local One. Not too many people are aware of the power of this 3,000-member stagehands' union. But its leaders have managed to exact enormous concessions from arts management along the Great White Way, and at Carnegie Hall, Lincoln Center and elsewhere. For the bosses, at least, it's been a sweet deal. An article in the Winter 2010 issue of City Journal, a quarterly periodical of the Manhattan Institute, summarizes just how sweet - and why the situation isn't likely to change anytime soon.
Paul Wyatt believes he's innocent. But his prospects for acquittal don't look good. On May 12, Wyatt, formerly president and business manager of the Sioux Falls, South Dakota-based Stage and Picture Operators Local 220, pleaded not guilty in federal court after being charged with embezzling about $35,000 from the union, an affiliate of the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees (IATSE). Prosecutors allege the thefts occurred during January 2008-August 2009. Wyatt, 48, a resident of Sioux Falls, was released on bond. If convicted, he faces up to five years in prison.
Teresa Cora Luna isn't going to Disneyland - not as a union official anyway. On October 6, Luna, formerly bookkeeper/office manager of International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees (IATSE) Local 504, was sentenced in federal court to five months in prison for embezzling $67,416 in funds from the union. She also will have to pay full restitution. The union represents about 300 stage production workers at Disneyland in Anaheim, California.