Thousands of New Yorkers have lost their telephone service in early Aug., as vandals slashed telephone cables in what police are investigating as possible acts of sabotage in support of a strike of the Communications Workers of Am. and the Int'l Bhd. of Elec. Workers. The waves of vandalism come amid negotiations between Verizon Communications and the two unions that represent employees who are on strike in a 13-state region from Maine to Virginia. Verizon is offering a $25,000 reward for information leading to an arrest for vandalism.
There were reports of at least 455 incidents (233 of which were in N.Y.) -- most of which involved property damage such as severed telephone cables, burnt trucks, slashed tires -- or harassment of Verizon managers. "There have also been a couple cases of building keys broken off in the locks, or Super glue in the locks," said John Johnson, a Verizon spokesman in Boston. "One manager received a telephoned death threat."
N.Y. Mayor Rudy Giuliani (R) vowed to arrest the vandals: "I have to remind them that it's a crime, and if we do catch them ...they're going to go to jail."
The U.S. Dep't of Labor's ERISA suit against two trustees of the Nat'l Elec. Benefit Fund charging improper dealings between NEBF and top Clinton-fundraiser Terry McAuliffe is scheduled to have a settlement conference on Sept. 7, according to a June 27 letter from U.S. Magistrate Judge Charles B. Day to the parties. This follows two failed settlement meetings in Jan. and Apr. 1999 before the suit was filed.
Among the May 1999's suit allegations was that NEBF trustee John Grau and ex-trustee Jack F. Moore imprudently lent over $6 million in pension assets. NEBF is operated jointly by the Int'l Bhd. of Elec. Workers, from which Moore retired as secretary in 1997, and the Nat'l Elec. Contractors Ass'n. The alleged scam involved a questionable $6 million loan in 1992 to a McAuliffe firm. The loan was in default from 1992-97, and DOL says NEBF should have known the loan couldn't be repaid in full with interest. DOL seeks the trustees to reimburse the fund for losses, plus interest.
Two telecommunications firms, U.S. Information Systems, Inc., and Odyssey Group, Inc., recently filed a federal suit in Manhattan alleging antitrust violations by Int'l Bhd. of Elec. Workers Local 3 and contractors that employ Local 3 workers. The suit alleges that Local 3 and the contractors are conspiring to take over the market for installation of telecommunications wiring and systems in the N.Y. metropolitan area.
The U.S. Dep't of Labor will ask a court to force Int'l Bhd. of Elec.l Workers Local 1505 in Boston to honor an agreement that it would rerun last year's election of officers. Mark Letizi of DOL's Office of Labor Management Standards said DOL wants a court to order Local 1505 to hold a new election under federal supervision. The local had agreed on Mar. 28 to hold a rerun in June, but in May local bosses backed out of the deal.
"The union has canceled our agreement, which was voluntary and reached prior to any litigation," Letizi said. "So we will seek to overturn the results of the initial election."
U.S. Atty. Janice M. Cole announced that a federal grand jury indicted eleven individuals on Apr. 18-19 with two counts each of mail fraud, in connection with their applications for membership with the Journeyman Inside Wireman classification in the Int'l Bhd. of Electrical Workers Local 495, in Wilmington, N.C. These indictments follow the indictments of ten others on similar charges in Mar. 2000. If convicted, each could receive a maximum sentence of 10 years imprisonment, a fine of $500,000, and a supervised release term of three years. The accused are Ricky L. Barnett Sr., Ricky L. Barnett Jr., Terry Davis, Chris R. Day, Shawn Collins, Gaylo R. Howard, Roger L. Lykins, Marty Mix, Harvey F. Puckett, Stacy Puckett, Robert G. Trimble. [USAO E.D.N.C., Media Release 4/24/00]
U.S. Atty. Janice M. Cole announced that a federal grand jury indicted nine individuals on Mar. 21 with two counts each of mail fraud, in connection with their applications for membership with the Journeyman Inside Wireman classification in the Int'l Bhd. of Electrical Workers Local 495, in Wilmington, N.C. If convicted, each could receive a maximum sentence of 10 years imprisonment, a fine of $500,000, and a supervised release term of three years. The accused are Jamie Bailey, Richard D. Daniels, Bradley S. Darnell, Michael J. Fitzpatrick, Ralph J. Lykins, John C. Martin, Raymond Mead, David A. Petty and Jeremy M. Puckett. Additionally, Robert A. Parsons was charged with one count of mail fraud, and if convicted, faces a maximum sentence of five years imprisonment, a $250,000 fine, and three years of supervised release. [USAO E.D.N.C., Media Release 3/24/00]
The ongoing Int'l Bhd. of Electrical Workers investigation into IBEW Local 21 in Downers Grove, Ill., said it uncovered deficit expenses of over $600,000 for the first six months of 1999. IBEW findings were in a Oct. 14 letter to Local 21 members explaining why the international was "forced" to place the local under trusteeship in Sep. 1999 and suspend its officers. The letter from IBEW president J.J. Barry said the investigation also revealed: 1) unauthorized bonuses paid to bosses and staff, 2) improper and unauthorized use of union credit cards, 3) numerous unauthorized payments to local union bosses and staff, 4) local funds spent to campaign for union office.
But Barry added that the "improprieties uncovered concern past and newly elected officers." IBEW spokesman did not provide specifics on which boss might face disciplinary action, but he said a hearing on the allegations is expected to take place soon.
In 1993, two FBI agents confronted Int'l Bhd. of Electrical Workers boss Jerry O'Connor with seemingly incontrovertible evidence of his guilt: a secretly recorded tape of O'Connor, a high-ranking union official in Chicago, accepting a $10,000 bribe in cash from a longtime government informant. Yet O'Connor insisted it wasn't his voice on the tape and that he was innocent of the accusation. But as it turned out, O'Connor was a victim of a greedy informant named William Russell, authorities said, who conned the FBI out of tens of thousands of dollars for worthless undercover work and nearly framed an innocent man.
The Neb. Teachers Credit Union was declared insolvent Sep. 22 by state banking officials amid allegations that the ex-manager and sole employee, Violet Crosby, embezzled over $200,000 from members. NTCU, based in Lincoln, serves Neb. State Edu. Ass'n teachers across the state. Its assets are about $850,000.
The state Banking Dep't began investigating in Jul. when NTCU's treasurer learned that NTCU was not earning as much interest as it should have on a major account. Crosby was fired shortly after the discrepancy was discovered.
An audit to determine the exact amount of the embezzlement is underway. The FBI and Lincoln police have worked on the investigation, and any prosecution will be handled by the U.S. Atty.'s Office.
The credit union will open under new ownership, and none of the members will lose money, since the accounts were federally insured for up to $100,000 each and there were no accounts over $100,000. [Omaha World-Herald 9/23/99]
The Dep't of Justice asked U.S. Dist. Judge Charles P. Kocoras to hold Int'l Bhd. of Electrical Workers Local 134 in Chicago in contempt of court for violating a settlement that allowed bosses to stay in office. The Mar. 1999 agreement settled a suit brought by the Dep't of Labor against Local 134 seeking to void its 1998 election. The suit alleged employer funds were used by boss Michael Fitzgerald's winning slate.
Under the settlement, Local 134 agreed that DOL would supervise the next election in 2001. The agreement also required that member Charlie Chathas, who protested the election with DOL, be allowed to send out a letter to members responding to one sent out by Fitzgerald, before the settlement, that accused Chathas of "conspiring to overthrow" his slate. Local 134 refused to distribute the letter, which DOL approved, and that violated the agreement, said Asst. U.S. Atty. Craig A. Oswald. "Failure to comply could potentially jeopardize the entire settlement," he said.
However, no contempt of court citation was issued. Judge Kocoras said Aug. 26 the local must send the letter, but it may include a disclaimer saying it doesn't reflect the bosses' views.