Keith Beckler, frmr. treasurer of Local 587 of the Intl. Assn. of Fire Fighters, was caught red-handed by the union stealing at least $15,000 for things such as a trip to Disney World with his girlfriend. But rather than contacting law enforcement authorities, Local 587 president Ed Piderman is indignantly insisting on handling it within the union.
"The union is not a public entity and it's not subject to public-records laws. This is 100 percent our money," Piderman told Tristram Korten of Miami New Times on April 10. But as Korten point out, since these public sector union officers are entitled to 6,000 hrs. of pay while conducting union business, taxpayer money is involved. And in justifying his trip to Disney World, Beckler reportedly lied to the city by claiming his leave was for union business. Nor is this the first time the use of taxpayer money for union activity has come up. In 2002, the Dade County Office of the Inspector General concluded that activities conducted on union leave time had cost the county $640,000 in a 21-month period.
On January 16, 2003, a complaint was filed in the U.S. Dist. Ct. for the Dist. of Minnesota against Dist. Lodge 143 of the Intl. Assn. of Machinists (IAM), which represents some 21,800 members predominately employed by Northwest Airlines headquartered in Minneapolis, Minn. The complaint resulted from an investigation by the Minneapolis branch of the U.S. Ofc. Of Labor-Mgmt. Standards into the district lodge's August 13, 2002 election. It revealed that six locals failed to hold an election, eleven locals failed to send out an election notice, and 25 locals sent out an inadequate election notice. The complaint seeks a new election under OLMS supervision. [OLMS 2/5/03]
On Jan. 9, in the U.S. Dist. Ct. for the East. Dist. of Wisconsin, Kim M. Conner, former financial secy.-treasurer of United Auto Workers Local 469, was sentenced to six months imprisonment followed by six months of home confinement and three years of supervised release. Conner was ordered to make full restitution of $54,317.39, pay a special assessment of $125, and perform five days of community service. Conner pled guilty on October 10, 2002 to one count of embezzlement of union funds and one count of filing a false LM-2 report following an investigation by the Milwaukee branch of the U.S. Ofc. of Labor-Mgmt. Standards. [OLMS 1/21/03]
Ex-Montana Treasurer Indicted for Embezzlement On Jan. 8, in the U.S. Dist. Ct. for the Dist. of Montana, Frank Darvis, former treasurer of United Transportation Union Local 891, was indicted on one count of embezzling $29,865 in union funds following an investigation by the Denver branch of the U.S. Ofc. of Labor-Mgmt. Standards. [OLMS 1/21/03]
A N.Y. pension fund consultant received a lighter-than-requested sentence for paying kickbacks to a union pension trustee without performing any services for the two funds involved.
The U.S. Attny. for the Dist. of Mass. had requested a sentence of one year, six months for George W. Philipps, ex-president and owner of Pension Fund Evaluations, Inc. (PFE) in Centerreach, NY. But U.S. Dist. Judge Nancy Gertner (D. Mass., Clinton) sentenced Philipps to two years probation on Oct. 10 for his role in a scheme carried out with William V. Close, then a trustee of the pension funds of Intl. Bhd. of Teamsters Local 710 and Intl. Assn. of Machinists Local 701, both based in Chicago.
Seven years after the Intl. Ladies Garment Wrkrs. Union was merged into the Union of Needletrades, Industrial & Textile Employees, federal courts are still dealing with the leftover corruption. On July 23, a frmr bookkeeper for the garment union pled guilty in the U.S. Dist. Ct. in Scranton to embezzling more than $28,000 from the union's now-defunct district council.
Diane Lewis used her position to steal funds from the N.E. Penn. Dist. Cncl. of the Ladies Garment Union from July 1995 to August 1997. During that time, that union and the Amalgamated Clothing & Textile Workers Union (ACTWU) were merging to form UNITE. Lewis faces a maximum penalty of five years in prison, and a $250,000 fine. [U.S.A.O. M.D. Pa, 7/23/02]
John McKay, United States Attorney for the Western District of Washington, and John Heaney, District Director, United States Department of Labor, Office of Labor-Management Standards in Seattle, announced that on July 12, 2000, David Rux, a former Business Representative of Woodworkers Local Lodge W2 in Aberdeen, Washington, pled guilty to 7 felony counts of Union Embezzlement under U.S.C. 29, 501(c), and 15 counts of Falsification of Union Financial Records under U.S.C., 439(c). Now living in Veguita, NM, Rux will be sentenced on October 15, by U.S. Dist. Judge William Johnson (G.W. Bush) in Albuquerque. For each of the 7 counts of embezzlement, Rux faces a maximum of 5 years in prison, $10,000 in fines, and 3 years of supervised release following imprisonment. He also faces a maximum penalty of 1 year in prison, up to $10,000 in fines, and 1 year of supervised release for each of count of Falsification.
William V. Close, ex-trustee of the pension funds of Int'l Bhd. of Teamsters Local 710 and Auto. and Int'l Ass'n of Machinists Local 701 (a.k.a. Auto. Mechanics Union Local 701), both of which are in Chicago, was sentenced May 30 along with pension fund managers Christopher P. Roach and Richard S. Tringale on federal racketeering conspiracy and pension fund kickback charges arising out of hundreds of thousands of dollars in commission kickbacks.
Deborah Bankston, ex-financial secretary-treasurer of Ass'n of Western Pulp & Paper Workers Local 83 in Stockton, Cal., was sentenced Feb. 20 to five months imprisonment followed by three years of supervised probation for embezzling $64,711.65 in union funds. She was also ordered to make full restitution. Bankston pled guilty to one count of union embezzlement. She was charged on Sept. 26. [DOL 2/20/02]
Washington Staffer Charged with $15,600 Embezzlement Geri E. Abbe, ex-office secretary for Ass'n of Western Pulp & Paper Workers Local 5 in Camas, Wash., was charged Feb. 22 in a one-count information with embezzling $15,690 in union funds. [DOL 2/22/02]
A N.Y. union pension fund consultant admitted Feb 6. that he paid kickbacks to a fund trustee. George W. Philipps, ex-president and owner of Pension Fund Evaluations, Inc., a consulting firm in Centerreach, N.Y., pled guilty before U.S. Dist, Judge Nancy Gertner (D. Mass., Clinton) in Boston to a charge of paying kickbacks to William V. Close, who was then a trustee of the pension funds of Int'l Bhd. of Teamsters Local 710 and Auto. and Int'l Ass'n of Machinists Local 701 (a.k.a., Auto. Mechanics Union Local 701), both of which are in Chicago.
On Dec. 17, in Wayne County (Ind.) Superior Court, Priscilla Crist, ex-president of Auto Workers Local 2374 in Richmond, Ind., was indicted for forgery and theft of $4,092 in union funds. [DOL 12/17/02]
Georgia Boss Charged with False Recordkeeping Joseph Argo, ex-president of Int'l Ass'n of Machinists Lodge 615 in Marietta, Ga., was charged in a one-count information with false financial recordkeeping. [DOL 1/15/02]
Atlanta Boss Charged for Failing to Maintain Financial Records On Jan. 15, Charles Astin, ex-president of Retail, Wholesale & Department Store Union Local 343 in Atlanta, was charged in a one-count information with failure to maintain union financial records. [DOL 1/15/02]
Florida Boss Allegedly Concealed Records On Dec. 17, in U.S. Dist. Court for the S. Dist. of Fla., David Lareau, ex-business manager of Int'l Bhd. of Painters & Allied Trades Local 160, was charged in a one-count information with concealing and withholding union financial records.