Take two men with a temper, and mix them with alcohol, a gun, and union business.The results can be lethal.That was the case five years ago at International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local 611 in Albuquerque.Andrew Palmer, former union president and business manager, shot union member and independent contractor Chris Romero to death after an argument at a local bar over union financial affairs.Charged with one count of murder, Palmer, now 58, belatedly went on trial last month.That Palmer was the triggerman is not in doubt – in fact, he’d turned himself into police on the day of the shooting.But the circumstances surrounding the death were ambiguous enough to produce a hung jury on April 27 following several days of deliberation.
On March 23, Kay Joy Andrews, former bookkeeper for Local 1780 of the United Brotherhood of Carpenters and Joiners, was sentenced in U.S. District Court for the District of Nevada to five years probation, including six months of home confinement, and ordered to pay $40,086.50 in restitution.She pleaded guilty last September to one count of embezzling union funds in the amount of $55,765.55.The sentencing follows a joint investigation by the U.S. Labor Department’s Office of Labor-Management Standards and Office of Inspector General.(OLMS, 4/5/07).
Ex-Bookkeeper of Atlanta Local Agrees to Probation, Restitution
The Los Angeles Department of Water and Power (LADWP, or simply DWP) is an enormous municipal utility, serving nearly 4 million residents.More than 200 billion gallons of water flow through over 7,000 miles of its pipes each year.The technologies for water and electricity service are complex; the resources are scarce; and the access to sources is influenced by politics.Under such circumstances, opportunities to line one’s pockets abound.Roman Polanski’s movie, Chinatown (1974), set in 1937 against the backdrop of a corrupt water-diversion scheme, was based on the real-life Owens River Valley scandal of 1908.Now the DWP faces a major scandal of a much different kind, this one involving its own heavily unionized employees.
Michael Kennedy no longer will have his union to pay for personal expenses.On February 1, the former secretary-treasurer for Local 720 of the International Brotherhood of Painters and Allied Trades, was sentenced in U.S. District Court to five years probation for embezzling $15,612.81.Kennedy, 46, had written 84 unauthorized union checks to himself, cash and third parties during October 22, 2003-March 22, 2005.Court records state he also forged the names of other officials of the Butte, Montana local, and made false entries in its books to conceal the thefts.The thefts were discovered when nine of the checks bounced.Kennedy pleaded guilty last fall.(Associated Press, 2/2/07).
Ex-Local Business Manager in Ohio Sentenced for Bank Fraud
On January 22, Michael Griffie, an associate of a Cincinnati-area contractor, Electrical Innovations, pleaded guilty in Hamilton County, Ohio Court of Common Pleas to one count of unauthorized use of property.He had been charged back in March with aggravated theft of property or services worth at least $100,000 from International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local 212, and with tampering with market recovery forms and forging market recovery fund forms for the purpose of defrauding the local.The no-contest plea follows an investigation by the Labor Department’s Office of Labor-Management Standards.The co-owners of Electrical Innovations, Rachetta Johnson and Charlene Monroe, were sentenced last September to five years probation and 500 hours of community service after pleading guilty to theft by deception.(OLMS, 1/25/07).
Ex-Office Manager in Minnesota Sentenced for Embezzlement
A federal grand jury in Pittsburgh has indicted Stephen Kostelac on charges of embezzlement.A resident of Fayette County, Pa., Kostelac, 51, secretary-treasurer of the Donora, Pa.-based Lodge 906 of the International Brotherhood of Boilermakers, is accused of stealing dues payments.Prosecutors did not give a specific dollar amount.(Tribune-Review, Greensburg, Pa., 11/30/06).
Former Treasurer in Alabama Indicted for Embezzlement
Mary Love and Danna France knew the value of teamwork – at least when it came to embezzling from their union.Their combined take came to around $70,000.Love, 51, a resident of northwest suburban St. Louis, during October 1998-December 2005 served as president of Local 96 of the American Federation of Government Employees, which represents workers at the Jefferson Barracks and John Cochran VA hospitals.During that time, the U.S. Attorney’s Office charged, she diverted more than $43,000 in union checks toward personal use.On November 15, a federal jury convicted Love of theft and filing false records. For her part, France, 42, who pleaded guilty in October, stole more than $26,000.France is due for sentencing in January; Love is due in February.(St. Louis Post-Dispatch, 11/17/06).
Chicago-Area Business Manager Sentenced for Stealing
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
As a New York City power broker, Brian McLaughlin had few equals.He was both a union leader and a politician who played at the highest levels, adept at courting allies to win favors.And he knew how to take care of his people, including members of his original union, Local 3 of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers.But in the roughly eight months since the FBI raided his two offices, fears that he was bent have proven true – at least say federal prosecutors in a Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations (RICO) Act indictment.As they say in baseball, “Say it ain’t so.”
On September 22, Rachetta Johnson and Charlene Monroe, co-owners of a contracting firm, Electrical Innovations, each were sentenced in Hamilton County, Ohio, Court of Common Pleas, to five years probation and 500 hours of community service for their roles in defrauding a market recovery fund of International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local 212.The fund assists union contractors in bidding for jobs against non-union contractors by enabling contractors to collect wage difference. Johnson and Monroe conducted an invoice overpayment scam.During July 2002-December 2003, they billed the local for hours that members hadn’t worked.Earlier in the month, the pair pleaded guilty to theft by deception.At their sentencing, the court also ordered them to pay $26,448 in restitution.Another defendant, Michael Griffie, has been charged with theft of at least $100,000 in property or services.