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
Leslie Patricia Bell found out the price of stealing from a union treasury:18 months in federal prison, three years probation, and $156,423 in restitution.Bell, 39, had pleaded guilty last May to charges she embezzled funds from Local 1184 of the Laborers International Union of North America, which represents construction, groundskeeping and maintenance workers in Riverside and San Bernardino Counties.Bell had been responsible for paying union bills and depositing membership dues at the union’s local office in Riverside.Her thefts began in May 2001 and lasted until her firing in July 2003.Most of Bell’s haul took the form of membership dues paid in cash.She also admitted forging the name of her then-husband, the union president, on two checks totaling $22,028.She used the money to pay off credit card debt and federal taxes, according to her plea bargain.
Seeking to uphold union democracy, the American Civil Liberties Union of Washington and Public Citizen filed suit on April 14 backing the free speech rights of a union member running for office.The suit was filed on behalf of Joseph Hughes to secure his right to speak with fellow members of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW).
Los Angeles union chief Miguel Contreras and other union officials have tapped Hollywood studios, energy companies and other large corporations for hefty donations to finance its activities over the last eight years. In doing so, they have apparently found a loophole in the Landrum-Griffin Act, reports the Los Angles Times.
Created in 1997 to conduct voter registration, educate voters and campaign for ballot measures, the Voter Improvement Program (VIP) had the advantage of being able to receive unlimited donations. Unions have not been able to directly receive corporate donations for almost 60 years, as a result of congressional reaction to corruption scandals.
On February 17, in the U.S. District Court for Delaware, Julie Messick, the former treasurer of Local 2001, United Bhd. of Carpenters, entered a guilty plea by plea agreement to one count of a five-count indictment. She pled guilty to embezzling union funds. Messick had previously made restitution in the amount of $9,164. She further stipulated in the plea agreement that she will make additional restitution in the amount of $2,629.85. On December 7, 2004, Messick was charged following an investigation by the Philadelphia District Office of the U.S. Office of Labor-Mgmt. Standards. [OLMS, 3/4/05]
Frmr. Bus. Mgr. Resentenced after Failing to Abide by 1st Sentence
On July 8, in the U.S. Dist. Ct. for the West. Dist. of Wash., Linda Stewart, frmr. secy.-treasurer of Graphic Communications Local 182-C (now known as Local 767-M), was sentenced to 5 yrs. supervised probation with 6 mos. to be spent in home detention with electronic monitoring. Stewart was also ordered to pay $65,005 in restitution. Stewart pled guilty on Feb. 6, 2004, to a 1 count information charging her with embezzlement. The conviction follows an investigation by the Seattle Dist. Ofc. of the U.S. Ofc. of Labor Mgmt. Standards and the Dept. of Labor's Ofc.
U.S. Dist. Judge Anna Brown (Ore., Clinton) delivered a mixed bag of verdicts on June 16.She found Dean Kirkland guilty of paying illegal gratuities to influence the investment decisions of union pension fund trustees.But citing the vagueness of fed. law, she found the 2 trustees in question, Dean's father, Gary, and Robert Legino, not guilty of accepting Dean's illegal gifts, which came in the form of lavish gifts and worldwide hunting trips.
Federal prosecutors and lawyers for now-defunct Capital Consultants salesman Dean Kirkland began dueling in federal court on April 21.Leading the case against Kirkland, Ore. Asst. U.S. Attny Neil Evans presented evidence that in 1999, union pension trustees were uncomfortable with their funds being moved into the investment firm that eventually collapsed in 2000.Evans also presented testimony that Kirkland continued to arrange hunting trips with union trustees who supported Capital even after he was advised that such trips likely violated anti-kickback provisions of fed. pension law.After U.S. Dist.
On April 9, in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Kentucky, Timothy Aldridge, former president of Florence Steelworkers Local 1, pled guilty to one count of embezzling $112,525 in union funds. Aldridge had been indicted on April 9, 2003, following an investigation by the Cincinnati District Office of the U.S. Ofc. of Labor Mgmt. Standards. [OLMS, 5/6/04]
On March 10, in the U.S. Dist. Ct. for the Sou. Dist. of Texas, John Rookard, a special asst. and project coordinator to Byron Boyd, president of the United Transportation Union, pled guilty to one count of labor racketeering conspiracy. Rookard and Boyd admitted to soliciting and collecting thousands of dollars in cash from attorneys nationwide. The scheme involved attorneys seeking designation by UTU to receive lucrative business associated with the personal injury claims of rail workers. Rookard will forfeit $45,000 to the Federal government from the proceeds of the racketeering activity. The guilty plea follows a joint investigation by the New Orleans Dist. Ofc. of the U.S. Ofc. of Labor Mgmt. Standards, the Dept. of Labor's Ofc. of the Inspector General and the FBI.