The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Cir. ruled May 20 that a pension plan amendment adopted by the governing body of Dist. 1 of the merged Marine Eng'rs Beneficial Ass'n and Nat'l Maritime Union was not invalidated after union corruption was discovered and the merger rescinded.The governing plan documents clearly gave the merged union the authority to amend the plan unilaterally, said the opinion written by U.S. Cir. Judge Cynthia H. Hall (9th Cir., Reagan), sitting by designation, in affirming the finding of U.S. Dist. Judge Andre M. Davis (D. Md., Clinton) that the plan amendment, which enabled certain plan participants to obtain pension credits for past service with affiliated unions, was validly adopted.
A federal indictment unsealed Oct. 20 charges a father and son who run a local of a Nat'l Union of Healthcare & Hosp. Employees with taking $200,000 in kickbacks from a contractor hired to renovate the union's headquarters in Newark. Victor Garcia, president of NUHHE Dist. 1199J and his son, Victor Garcia, Jr., the assistant executive director of the union's pension fund, were charged in the Oct. 13 indictment. The local is a part of the Am. Fed'n of State, County & Municipal Employees The U.S. Atty. for N.J. Faith S. Hochberg alleges that the two bosses accepted the money from 1994-97, in exchange for awarding the contractor $5 million in contracts for work on the building.
To retain the renovation contract, the contractor -- in addition to the kickbacks -- also allegedly gave the bosses jewelry and other gifts and about $25,000 in free improvements to the bosses' residences. Jewelry included watches, rings and earrings. Home repairs included carpeting, mirrors, landscaping, roofing and driveway repaving. Both also allegedly received repairs for their cars paid for by the contractor. [USAO D.N.J., Media Release 10/20/99, N.Y. Times 10/21/99]
According U.S. Attorney Donald K. Stern's statement, ex-Nat. Maritime Union Employee Pension & Welfare Plan boss Nicholas LaForgia pled guilty May 26 to receiving $237,000 in kickbacks -- including airline tickets, electronic equipment, jewelry and liquor -- in exchange for referring members to the Northeast Maritime Inst. in New Bedford Mass. for training mandated by the U.S. Coast Guard. LaForgia was responsible for where and when members receive training. According the statement, LaForgia contacted the school and arranged for NMU members to attend classes in 1996. LaForgia then demanded the school purchase items for him. In Nov. 1998, the school said it would stop purchasing the items, he then cancelled previously scheduled classes and ceased sending members to the school. He faces three years imprisonment, a $250,000 fine and a restitution order.
Ex-Nat. Maritime Union Employee Pension & Welfare Plan boss Thomas LaForgia was charged May 11 with receiving $237,000 in kickbacks for referring members to a Mass. school for training mandated by the U.S. Coast Guard. LaForgia is responsible for where and when members receive training. According to prosecutors, LaForgia contacted the Northeast Maritime Inst. in New Bedford and arranged for NMU members to attend classes at the school in 1996. LaForgia then began demanding the school purchase items for him. The items reportedly included airline tickets, electronic equipment, jewelry and liquor. In Nov. 1998, the school said it would stop purchasing the items, he then cancelled previously scheduled classes and ceased sending members to the school. He faces three years imprisonment, a $250,000 fine and a restitution order. [BNA 5/12/99]
The U.S. 3rd Cir. Court of Appeals in Philadelphia upheld the racketeering and bribery conviction Nov. 5 of Louis Parise, Jr., the son of ousted Nat. Maritime Union boss, Louis Parise, Sr. Parise, Jr., faces a 30-month federal prison sentence after being found guilty of delivering cash to union bosses so that they would refer injured seafarers to a lawyer working with the family. Parise, Sr., is serving a 56-month sentence in a federal prison role in the scheme and for embezzling union funds. Parise, Jr.'s, brother, Robert, is due for sentencing in Feb. after he pled guilty to embezzlement last year. He was accused of running a fake NMU local in Miami that diverted tens of thousands of dollars in union funds. In the bribery scheme, Parise, Sr., paid union port agents to refer injured seafarers to Bernard Sacks, a Philadelphia attorney, who gave 5% of the resulting fees to Parise, Sr. Parise, Jr., worked for Sacks and traveled to ports delivering cash to the agents and telling them that Sacks was NMU's official attorney.