Allowing no debate, democrats rammed the nomination of Michael Fenger as Labor Secy. through the Illinois Senate on April 10. But Sen. Peter Roskam (R) managed to mention Fenger's "criminal background" three times during procedural questions.
The frmr. Business Mgr. of Intl. Bhd. of Electrical Wrkrs. Local 364 pled guilty to property damage and reckless conduct after police officers saw him puncture all four tires of a non union worker's car as he tried to leave a Wal-Mart construction site but was surrounded by union protesters in 1997. When Gov. Rod Blagojevich appointed Fenger labor secy. earlier this year, Fenger claimed to have only pled "no contest." But the prosecuting attny. pointed out that no such plea exists in IL law.
"Now I represent the workers of the state of Illinois -- all of them, union or not -- that's my new job," Fenger said after his committee hearing the week before the senate vote. [Rockford Register Star, 4/11/03]
Two months after Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich nominated him for Director of the state labor department, Michael Fenger's confirmation is on hold in the state Senate. But that hasn't stopped the Rockford-area union boss, convicted in 1997 of slashing the tires of a non-union truck, from setting up shop as the acting director.
Fenger was the business manager of Intl. Bhd. Of Elec. Wrkrs. Local 364 when several militants surrounded the truck of a non-union worker as he tried to leave a Wal-Mart construction site. With the truck stopped, two police officers saw Fenger use a five-in. awl to puncture all four tires. Sterling police were videotaping the protest and recorded him puncturing at least one of them. Fenger denied any involvement in the tire-slashing, but later pled guilty to two misdemeanor charges of property damage and reckless conduct.
U.S. Dist. Judge Barbara Crabb (W.D. WI, Carter) rejected any leniency in sentencing Michael E. Koehler on Feb. 14 to 2 yrs., 1 month in prison, 3 yrs. supervised release, and full restitution of the $135,197 he embezzled from a Madison union. The frmr. financial secy. of Local 965 of the Intl. Bhd. of Electrical Wrkrs. pled guilty to taking unauthorized salary payments, and falsely claiming reimbursements for meal, mileage and meeting expenses.
Koehler pled guilty in exchange for the U.S. Attny's. recommendation of a reduced sentence. But Judge Crabb was angered by Koehler's statements to a pre-sentence investigator that frivolously denied relevant conduct that was the basis for the Oct. 24 information. Koehler was not being sentenced for mistakes, Judge Crabb told Koehler, but because "you cheated, you lied and you stole." [U.S.A.O. W.D. WI 2/14/03]
On Feb. 20, 2003, in the U.S. Dist. Court for the Northern Dist. of Illinois, Anthony King, former treasurer of International Bhd. of Electrical Workers Local 533 in Berwyn, Illinois, pled guilty to embezzling $14,450 in union funds between May 1997 and June 1999 (a change of plea). King was charged on January 24, 2003, following an investigation by the Chicago branch of the U.S. Ofc. of Labor-Mgmt. Standards. [OLMS 2/27/03]
Intl. Union Takes Over NC Local Amid Charges of Mishandles Finances With local members claiming $100,000 in mishandled finances and credit card charges, the Communications Wrkrs. of Amer. imposed a trusteeship on Local 3640 in Winston-Salem late in Feb. Formed only in 2000, the Local represents about 1,100 U.S. Airways ticket workers. A number of frmr. local officials said that members had complained repeatedly of rules violations and misappropriation of funds. But CWA spokeswoman Dina Beaumont simply referred to "officers who said they...could not sort out their problems themselves" and "other internal issues that made it difficult to move forward." [Winston-Salem Journal 2/25/03]
A Rockford-area union boss convicted of slashing the tires of a non-union truck outside a Wal-Mart is IL Gov. Rod Blagojevichs choice to run the states Labor Dept.
In 1997, Michael Fenger, the Bus. Mgr. of Intl. Bhd. Of Elec. Wrkrs. Local 364 was attending a union protest of non-union workers building the store. Several militants surrounded the truck of a non-union worker as he tried to leave the site. With the truck stopped, two police officers saw Fenger use a five-in. awl to puncture all four tires. Sterling police were videotaping the protest and recorded him puncturing at least one of them.
Fenger was charged with felony criminal damage to property and two misdemeanor charges of property damage and reckless conduct. In a plea agreement, Fenger pled guilty to the misdemeanor charges, and was fined $1,500. Last year, he succeeded in getting the case expunged from the record, but disclosed the incident to Blagojevich aides before his appointment.
Stephen E. Morris pled guilty on Feb. 7 to embezzling from the union he served as Treasurer for nine years. According to the Plea Agreement and Stipulation of Facts, Morris stole the funds from Local 109 of the Intl. Bhd. Of Elec. Wrkrs in Moline from April 2000 through Oct. 2001. He made unauthorized cash withdrawls of $20,463, unauthorized check withdrawls of $51,881, overstated expenses of $1,933, check amounts raised above what was approved of $4,699, and cash back from deposits of $8,066.
That adds up to $87,043. But the Stipulation reports the total amount stolen to be between that figure and $72,344. Since Morris will be required to make restitution, the amount stolen will likely be determined by Chief U.S. Dist. Judge Joe B. McDade (Cent. Dist., IL, G.H.W. Bush) at Morriss sentencing hearing on June 6.
On Dec. 18, 2002, in the U.S. Dist. Ct. for the Middle Dist. of Tenn., a plea agreement was filed in which Robert "Blackie" Emery, Sr., former secretary-treasurer for Local 429 of the Intl. Bhd. of Electrical Wrkrs., pled guilty to one count of embezzling approximately $5,200 from Local 429 and one count of failure to file a required officer report, Form LM-30. The charges were brought following an investigation by the Nashville branch of the U.S. Ofc. of Labor-Mgmt. Standards. [DOL OLMS 1/2/03]
Border Patrol Union Chief Charged with Embezzlement On Dec. 10, 2002, in Kern County, California Superior Court, a 5-count criminal complaint was filed charging Mark D. Marquez, president of American Fedtn. of Government Employees Local 2730 (which represents U.S. Border Patrol Agents), with embezzling $1,297.14 in union funds. The charges were brought following a joint investigation by the Los Angeles branch of the U.S. Ofc. of Labor-Mgmt. Standards and the U.S. Dept. of Labor's Ofc. of the Inspector General. [DOL OLMS 1/2/03]
Michael E. Koehler pled guilty on Nov. 8 to using funds from the union of which he was the only full-time officer for his personal use and entertainment.
From 1980 until his defeat in a 2001 election, Koehler was Fin. Secy. and Bus. Mgr. of Local 965 of the Intl. Bhd. of Electrical Wrkrs. In Oct. 1997, Koehler began submitting false claims for reimbursement for money he claimed to have given to grieving families at members' funerals, gas mileage and meal expenses he never incurred, and overtime he never worked. Before that, Koehler had regularly claimed his tee time at the Portage Country Club as union business since 1989. The $135,200 Koehler stole from the union made him Wisconsin's highest paid union official.
Fed. Judge Barbara Crabb (U.S.D.C. W.D. WI, Carter) will sentence Koehler on Feb. 4, 2003. [Capital Times, Wisconsin State Journal 11/9/02]
A fed. jury convicted Minneapolis City Council member Joseph Biernat of aiding union embezzlement on Nov. 21. In 1999, Biernat accepted $2,700 in free plumbing work, on a house he owned, from Thomas J. Martin, ex-bus. mgr. of Local 15 of the United Assn. of Plumbers and Pipefitters. Martin is scheduled to go on trial Dec. 3 for 10 related charges of stealing from the union. Biernat was also convicted of lying about whether he had received property improvements from at one other than his family. [Minneapolis Star Tribune 11/21/01]
Adminr. Sentenced for Embezzling NY Electricians' Pensions On Oct. 10, in the U.S. Dist. Ct. for the Southern Dist. of NY, Barbara Monfre, administrator of the Electrical Workers (IBEW) Local 3, Elevator Division Retirement Plan, was sentenced to 2 yrs. imprisonment and was ordered to pay restitution in the amount of $314,547. She was arraigned on March 22, 2002, on charges of embezzling approximately $289,000 in benefit plan funds following a joint investigation by the NYC branch of the U.S. Ofc. of Labor-Mgmt. Standards and the U.S. Dept. of Labor's Pension and Welfare Benefits Admin. [DOL OLMS 11/13/02]
James R. Dawson Sr. was sentenced to three years of supervised probation, and fined $1,700, for union embezzlement on Oct. 18 in the U.S. Dist. Ct. for the Sou. Dist. of Miss. Dawson was President of Local 325 of the Natl. Postal Mail Handlers, a division of the Laborers Intl. Union of N. Amer., when he made $9,400 in unauthorized cash advances from the union's credit card from May 1997 through Nov. 2001. He pled guilty to violations of 29 U.S.C., Sec. 402(i) and 402(j) on Aug. 7. Dawson had previously made full restitution to the local union. [DOL OLMS 10/30/02, U.S.A.O. S.D. Miss.]
Frmr. Teasurer Pleads Guilty in NY Fed. Ct. On Oct. 24, in the U.S. Dist. Ct. for the W. Dist. of NY, David S. Koch, frmr. treasurer of PACE Local 236, pled guilty to one count of violating 29 U.S.C. 439(a). He admitted that he failed to file the union's annual financial reports for the fiscal years ending April 30, 2000 and April 30, 2001. He made a $4,000 restitution payment to the union prior to the plea being entered. The charges were brought following an investigation by the Buffalo branch of the U.S. Ofc. of Labor-Mgmt. Standards. [DOL OLMS 10/30/02]