On April 19, Tracey Tigner, former office secretary for International Union of Painters and Allied Trades District Council 91, pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Indiana to embezzlement of an unspecified sum of funds from a council affiliate, IUPAT Local 460 in Merrillville, Ind. (Lake County). She had been indicted in February. The actions follow a probe by the U.S. Labor Department's Office of Inspector General and Office of Labor-Management Standards.
The coffers of Metal Polishers Local 8A-28A are due for replenishment. Members are hoping they don't have to wait too long. On April 9, Hector Lopez, former president of the Long Island City (Queens), N.Y.-based union, pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of New York to conspiracy to commit mail fraud, wire fraud and tax evasion, related mainly to his fleecing of a union benefit plan. He also will have to make restitution in excess of $1.1 million. Lopez had been arrested and indicted last September on 15 counts of fraud, embezzlement, tax evasion and other offenses following a joint investigation by the U.S. Department of Labor and the Internal Revenue Service.
On November 28, Kristine Stephens, former administrative assistant and bookkeeper for International Union of Painters and Allied Trades Local 567, was charged in U.S. District Court for the District of Nevada with embezzling approximately $80,000 in funds from the Sparks, Nev. union. The indictment follows a probe by the U.S. Labor Department's Office of Labor-Management Standards.
Hector Lopez increased his wealth by cutting deals with union contractors. Members of his union bore the cost. On September 18, Lopez, formerly president of Metal Polishers Local 8A-28A, an affiliate of the International Union of Painters and Allied Trades (IUPAT), was arrested at his home and indicted in Brooklyn, N.Y. federal court on charges of enriching himself over several years through various illegal activities, the most serious of which was his acceptance of nearly $750,000 from an unnamed firm in exchange for the firm retaining control over the union benefit plan. At his arraignment, Lopez pleaded not guilty to all 15 charges, which include embezzlement, mail fraud, wire fraud, money-laundering and tax evasion. Magistrate Judge Marilyn Go released Lopez on $1 million bond, subject to electronic monitoring.
Francis Mazzella couldn't quite overcome his old temptation of getting on the take. Nominally the owner of an electrical services contracting firm, he pleaded guilty on February 27 in Brooklyn federal court to defrauding a benefit fund of a Queens, N.Y.-based union, Metal Polishers Local 8A-28A, an affiliate of the International Union of Painters and Allied Trades (IUPAT), of an unspecified sum. The fraud charges were related to renovation work his company allegedly performed on a union building. For Mazzella, an ex-cop with the New York Police Department (NYPD), it was a painful reminder of a dozen years earlier, when he was forced off the force in the wake of a separate scandal. In the current case, he faces anywhere from 33 to 41 months in prison.
On October 24, Ephram Pascall, formerly president and business manager of International Union of Painters and Allied Trades Local 1422, was sentenced in U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York to six months home confinement and three years supervised release for embezzling $34,199 in funds from the Manhattan-based local. Pascall, who pleaded guilty in July, also will have to pay full restitution and a $100 special assessment. The guilty plea and sentencing follow an investigation by the U.S. Labor Department's Office of Labor-Management Standards.
Ephram Pascall's job training seminars had something missing: trainees. Now he's out of a job himself and likely to do hard time. Pascall, former president and business manager of International Union of Painters and Allied Trades Local 1422, pleaded guilty on July 6 in Manhattan federal court to one count of embezzling nearly $35,000 from the Manhattan-based local. He had been indicted in April following an investigation by the Labor Department's Office of Labor-Management Standards. The defendant, said U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara, "treated the union coffers like his personal piggy bank."
All things considered, Tammy Smith is a lucky woman. Smith, formerly secretary for International Union of Painters and Allied Trades Local 1922, was sentenced on May 19 in U.S. District Court for the District of Montana to serve two and a half years of probation and ordered to pay restitution and a $500 fine for embezzling more than $11,000 in funds from the Billings union. She pleaded guilty in February following a Labor Department investigation.
For almost two and a half years, Tammy Smith used her union as a cash dispensary. She now wishes she hadn't. On February 17, Smith, former secretary of International Union of Painters and Allied Trades Local 1922 in Billings, Montana, pleaded guilty in federal court to embezzling more than $11,000. Smith, 40, a resident of Billings, began working for the local in 2002. According to federal prosecutors from May 2004 until December 2006 Smith diverted dues payments into a personal bank account and wrote union checks to herself or to cash. At her May 19 sentencing, she faces a maximum five years in prison and a $10,000 fine.
Few observers gave Janett Humphries much of a chance when she decided to take her case to trial.In the end, even she didn’t give herself much of a chance.On November 13, the 63-year-old former president of Service Employees International Union Local 99 pleaded guilty in federal court to charges she had embezzled more than $30,000 from her union to help finance Martin Ludlow’s successful 2003 run for Los Angeles City Council.She used the funds to pay for travel expenses and a cell phone for Ludlow’s campaign staff, plus personal air travel costs. Ludlow stepped down from his council post in 2005 to head the Los Angeles County Federation of Labor, but pleaded guilty to a federal conspiracy charge early this year.Sentencing for Humphries is set for next February.She already has pleaded guilty to separate local charges.(Associated Press, 11/14/06).
Ex-Administrator for Northern California Local Pleads Guilty