Workers represented by Cement Masons Local 600 have helped put up a good many buildings in Southern California. But right now its members have a more immediate project on their hands: making sure they receive all promised benefits. And the U.S. Department of Labor wants to make that happen. Last Wednesday, the DOL filed a civil suit against various officers of the local trust funds to seek the reinstatement of a recently-fired union auditor and remove certain board members who administer the funds. Assistant Labor Secretary Phyllis Borzi explained the motive behind the action: "Workers must be free to participate in Department of Labor inquiries without fear of retaliation. By law, they have a right to report suspected violations to the department and must be allowed to cooperate with investigators."
On September 25, Linda Weed, former office secretary for Operative Plasterers & Cement Masons International Association Local 534, accepted a finding a sufficient facts, and a continuance without a finding, in Commonwealth of Massachusetts, Suffolk County Court, of one count of larceny of property in an amount of over $250. She then was sentenced to one month of probation and was ordered to make $7,294 in restitution. The union is based in Dorchester, Mass. The plea and sentencing follow an investigation by the Labor Department's Office of Labor management Standards.
On January 2, Linda Weed, former office secretary for Operative Plasterers and Cement Masons International Union Local 534, was charged in the Trial Court of Massachusetts, BMC Department, with one count of larceny from the Boston-based union in the amount of $7,294.73. The charge follows a probe by the U.S. Labor Department's Office of Labor-Management Standards.
On May 1, Lisa Barnes, former bookkeeper for Operative Plasterers & Cement Masons International Association Local 514, was charged in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan with one count of falsifying financial records of the Madison Heights (Oakland County)-based union. The charge follows a probe by the U.S. Labor Department's Office of Labor-Management Standards.
The gleaming twin residential towers known as "77 Hudson Street" in Jersey City, N.J., is an urban landmark made possible by a lot of hard work. Unfortunately, not everyone who was paid to build it actually worked. And not everyone who did work was on the schedule. During last November and December, six persons, including a reputed mob associate, pleaded guilty in Newark federal court to fraud and other offenses committed during 2006-08 that deprived Laborers International Union of North America (LIUNA) Local 325 and Operative Plasterers and Cement Masons International Association Local 780 of nearly $2.25 million in wages/salary and benefits. The heart of the activity was classic graft: A contractor bribes a union boss to look the other way in order to skirt collective bargaining hiring requirements. The ultimate losers in the case were union rank and file.
Much of the drywall industry in and around New York City has been under the thumb of an unholy alliance between the Genovese crime family and various contractors and labor unions crooked or desperate enough to business with them.One of those contractors was Fred Nisall, among more than 20 persons indicted back in April 2004 on charges related to a mob-connected construction hiring scheme.This September, standing before a judge in Manhattan federal court, he received 33 months in prison to be followed by three years of supervised release.He already had agreed to forfeit $1.5 million, jointly and severally, with two other contractors, brothers James and Joseph Delio, as part of his guilty plea in April 2006.
On September 11, William Pagano, former secretary-treasurer for National Association of Letter Carriers Branch 78, pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Ohio to one count of embezzling $66,759.18 in union funds.The plea follows an investigation by the U.S. Labor Department’s Office of Labor-Management Standards.The local is based in Columbus.(OLMS, 9/29/07).
Texas Secretary-Treasurer Sentenced for False Record-Keeping
Janice Hughes has begun to pay her debt to society.Whether union members and taxpayers eventually will collect is a different story.On February 7, Hughes received a 51-month prison sentence in federal court for her role in defrauding a union-sponsored trust fund and two federal agencies out of a combined $917,000.Hughes, now 69, is the former office manager of the National Plastering Industry’s Joint Apprenticeship Trust Fund, a nonprofit training organization run by the Operative Plasterers and Cement Masons International Association.In addition to her sentence, she will have to pay $911,420.59 in restitution – in other words, virtually all that she and the fund’s then-executive director, Gilbert Wolf, had stolen.After much delay, Wolf is set to go on trial by the end of this month.
It is little secret that much of New York City’s drywall industry is on the take, and that a number of contractors work closely with union bosses and the Mafia to maximize revenues.But one by one, elements in that network are being removed.On October 26, John Barone, a drywall contractor, pleaded guilty in Manhattan federal court to one count of conspiracy to evade employment taxes.Barone and several other persons named in a massive Justice Department indictment, diverted wages, cash payments and other benefits to themselves without reporting them on W-2, 1099 or other IRS reporting documents.Bearing the burden of this unofficial “mob tax” are the taxpaying public and workers paid substandard wages.Barone had copped a plea to Count 77 in a superseding indictment.
On October 10, David Taylor, former financial secretary for Carpenters Local 1402, pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia to one count of making false statements on the union’s reporting form.The statements were part of a scheme to cover up his embezzlement of $72,422 in union funds.The guilty plea follows an investigation by the Labor Department’s Office of Labor-Management Standards.(OLMS, 10/31/06).
Ex-Boss of Connecticut Union Pleads Guilty to Embezzlement