Toymakers Secretary-Treasurer in NYC Sentenced for Role in Benefit Scheme

Johnnie Miranti wanted an opportunity to get back into action managing his union. A court said “no such luck.” On March 23, Miranti, former secretary-treasurer of Allied Novelty and Production Workers Local 223, a toymakers union, was sentenced in U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York to eight months of imprisonment, to be followed by three years of supervised release, for conspiracy to solicit and receive $138,500 worth of benefit kickbacks. He had pleaded guilty last August after being indicted in July 2015 along with his father, Rocco Miranti, and Louis Smith, former president of International Brotherhood of Teamsters Local 810. Smith had been sentenced in January after pleading guilty last August to skimming more than $150,000 from the Local 810 health plan. Each union is based in New York City.

The Local 223 health plan, for its part, was not in the best of shape. By …

Probe Clears Teamster Secretary-Treasurer Ken Hall, but Issues Linger

Ken Hall is breathing easier.  But his union, the International Brotherhood of Teamsters, isn’t quite out of the woods yet.  On February 17, former federal prosecutor Joseph diGenova, the union’s special independent investigator, withdrew obstruction charges against Hall, the IBT’s general secretary-treasurer and number two man behind General President James P. Hoffa.  In a letter to the union general counsel, diGenova wrote that Hall “did not play a personal role” in withholding over 32,000 documents, including emails, related to corruption probes.  The Teamsters, which had finalized a settlement with the Justice Department in January 2015 to phase out over two decades of tight federal supervision, remains under scrutiny.  That’s not good news for Northern California Teamster leader Rome Aloise.

Union Corruption Update examined this issue in detail last November.  The Teamsters for many years had been trying to extricate themselves from the terms of a March 1989 civil …

NYC Teamster President Sentenced for Role in Fraud and Kickback Scheme

Louis Smith won’t have to spend much in the way of prison time, but he will have to spend a lot more money.  On January 24, Smith, former president of the New York City-based International Brotherhood of Teamsters Local 810, was sentenced in U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York to one year in prison, to be followed by two years of supervised release, for taking kickbacks as part of a conspiracy to fleece two union benefit plans out of hundreds of thousands of dollars.  He also was ordered to forfeit $151,481 in assets on top of the $213,264 he already had paid in restitution.  Smith, along with Johnnie Miranti, an officer with Allied Novelty and Production Workers Local 223, had pleaded guilty in August.  The pair, along with Miranti’s father, had been indicted in July 2015 following a joint probe by the FBI, the U.S. Labor …

Trump and the Unions: How Close of a Working Relationship?

President Donald Trump and AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka would seem to have nothing in common, save for the first four letters of their last names.  Yet each shares a conviction that government must protect domestic industry.  This common interest became clear on Monday when Trump signed an executive order withdrawing the U.S. from the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) trade agreement and later met that day with union officials.  Trumka, who during the 2016 campaign had called Trump a “fraud,” now praised his nemesis though without mentioning his name.  Teamster President James Hoffa called Trump’s order “the first step toward fixing 30 years of bad trade policies that have cost working Americans millions of good-paying jobs.”  One asks:  Is there an alliance in the making?  The answer:  Probably not.

There can be no doubt that Donald Trump’s presidential campaign, unexpected as it was successful, altered some basic “Right vs. Left” assumptions about …

Top Ten Union Corruption Stories of the Year

Benefit scams, especially involving health plans, grabbed the lion’s share of union corruption stories in 2016.  Scammers came from outside as well as from inside the unions, a fact highlighting the need for trustees to exercise greater due diligence in choosing outside parties.  There were also the usual cases of six-figure (or more) embezzlement and fraud against union general funds.  Labor officials, meanwhile, expanded their misguided campaign to enact a $15 an hour minimum wage.  They also tried to undo Right to Work laws in three states, temporarily achieving success in two by way of court action.  And a deadlocked Supreme Court enabled state and local public-sector union bosses to retain their authority to coerce dues payments from unwilling workers.  In other words, there was plenty to write about.  Here were the ten stories that mattered most:

10)  Hawaii contractor pleads guilty; sentenced for scamming Painters union, benefit fund, IRS

Probe Recommends Charges against Top Teamsters Official

ken-hall-and-james-hoffaHillary Clinton isn’t the only person these days accused of hiding emails to conceal crimes.  In a 42-page letter dated October 31, court-approved investigator Joseph diGenova appealed to International Brotherhood of Teamsters General President James P. Hoffa (r) to take action against IBT General Secretary-Treasurer Ken Hall (l).  According to diGenova, Hall hid over 17,000 email transmissions and other documents that could shed light on acts of embezzlement, bid-rigging and other acts of corruption.  For over six months, Hall, aided by Hoffa’s legal team, allegedly stonewalled investigators.  The IBT calls the charges “baseless.”  But the accusations may delay the union’s ongoing exit from federal control established by a 1989 racketeering settlement.  To complicate matters, U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara last Thursday filed suit against the union, citing “unprecedented and dangerous” activity.

James Hoffa has headed the Washington, D.C.-based International Brotherhood of Teamsters since 1999.  The union, with a current estimated 1.4 …

Teamsters Local Employee in Maryland Charged with Theft

teamsters-logoOn September 15, Coralee Stotler, former employee of International Brotherhood of Teamsters Local 992, was charged in the Circuit Court for Washington County, Maryland with one count of theft in a sum between $1,000 and $10,000.  The charge follows an investigation by the Labor Department’s Office of Labor-Management Standards and the Treasury Department’s Inspector General for Tax Administration.

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California Dentist Sentenced for Teamster Benefit Ripoff

teamsters-logoDavid Lewis enriched himself in ways that neither the dentistry profession nor Teamster members recognized – or liked.  Several months ago, he learned the high price of his actions.  On May 5, Lewis, a Sacramento-based dentist, was sentenced in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of California to three years and 10 months in prison, and fined $75,000, for skimming at least $1 million from a union-sponsored health plan covering employees of United Parcel Service.  He had pleaded guilty in January after being indicted on 18 counts in February 2014.  The actions follow an investigation by the U.S. Labor Department’s Office of Inspector General and Employee Benefits Security Administration, plus the California Attorney General’s Office and the state’s Dental Board.

Union Corruption Update discussed this case several months ago.  According to federal prosecutors, Lewis, now in his early 60s, back in late 2008 or early 2009 developed a …

NYC Bosses Plead Guilty to Benefit Plan Kickbacks and Fraud

bigstockphoto_new_york_4559731Benefit plans have become a preferred road to riches for many corrupt union leaders. Sometimes that road ends with a conviction.  Last month, two New York City union leaders – Louis Smith and Johnnie Miranti – pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York for their roles in a decade-long scheme to skim two union health plans out of hundreds of thousands and likely over a million dollars.  Smith, ex-president of International Brotherhood of Teamsters Local 810, pleaded guilty on August 5 to soliciting and receiving kickbacks totaling $151,481.  Three days later, Miranti, an officer with Allied Novelty and Production Workers Local 223, pleaded guilty to receiving $138,500.  The pair, along with Miranti’s father, Rocco Miranti, had been indicted in July 2015 following a joint probe by the FBI, the U.S. Labor Department and the NYPD.

Union Corruption Update covered this case last August.  …

President of Teamster Local in Illinois Sentenced

teamsters-logoOn July 18, Jerry Conner, former president of International Brotherhood of Teamsters Local 279, was sentenced in U.S. District Court for the Central Region of Illinois to one year of probation, fined $2,500 and ordered to pay $26,009 in restitution for falsifying financial records of the Decatur, Ill.-based union.  He had pleaded guilty in February to a one-count information.  Teamster General President James P. Hoffa back in June 2013 had replaced Conner with a trustee.  The actions follow a joint investigation by the Labor Department’s Office of Labor-Management Standards and Office of Inspector General.…

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