U.S. Dist. Judge Donald Nugent (N.D. Ohio, Clinton) sentenced Richard Adams Apr. 19 to 18 months in federal prison for stealing $144,939.46 in union funds and donations, including money collected for the family of a slain police officer. Adams, who was the treasurer of Int'l Ass'n of Fire Fighters Local 639 in Parma, Ohio, for 13 years, often told members that their money was safe and earning 13% interest in bank accounts. Instead, Adams looted the local's accounts for his own purposes and left the local $12,000 in debt when he was ousted in Dec. 2000.
Local 639 president Nick Kashi told Nugent that the local could have fulfilled dreams but for Adams. "Would we own a union hall today to hold our meetings, children's Christmas parties and other union-sponsored events to raise money for local charities and public relations events? The possibilities are almost endless. We will never know where our union could have been today," he said. Later Nugent told Adams, "The members will never be made whole. They had plans. They thought things were being done. This is really a black eye on the firefighters, even though they didn't have anything to do with it."
As reported in the Feb. 18 issue of the UCU, Richard Adams, ex-treasurer of Int'l Ass'n of Fire Fighters Local 639 in Parma, Ohio, pled guilty Jan. 28 to a federal bank fraud charge for schemes that deprived the local of approximately $144,939.46. Sentencing is scheduled for Apr. 10 before U.S. Dist. Judge Donald C. Nugent (N.D. Ohio, Clinton). The U.S. Atty.'s Office for the N. Dist. of Ohio in Cleveland has provided the UCU with Adams' plea agreement, which details the ex-boss' outrageous conduct.
From Aug. 1987 to Oct. 2000, Adams devised several fraudulent schemes to obtain funds belonging to Local 639 involving accounts (on which he was the sole signatory) at three federally-insured banks. Without authorization, Adams wrote union checks payable to his personal creditors to cover money he personally owed. He wrote the checks in a manner to give the false appearance that the payments were authorized union purposes by using the creditors names instead of his own and by including memo notations reflecting the customer account numbers without indication the personal benefit he was obtaining.
U.S. Dist. Judge Virginia A. Phillips (C.D. Cal., Clinton) sentenced Hank Van Heyningen, ex-president of Christian Labor Union Local 17 (Dairy Employees), to a mere 36 months probation and 300 hours of community service for extorting money from workers for job referrals. He faced up to 20 years in prison. Phillips also ordered Van Heyningen to pay $100 restitution and a $2,500 fine. The boss of the Chino, Cal., union pled guilty to one federal count of extortion on Oct. 23. He admitted to regularly extorting money for 10 years. A member who received a full-time job with regular daylight hours was charged $800 to $1,500. [DOL 1/7/02; USAO C.D. Cal. 10/23/01]
Ohio Boss Admits $142,700 Scheme On Jan. 28, Richard Adams, ex-treasurer of Int'l Ass'n of Fire Fighters Local 639 in Parma, Ohio, pled guilty to a federal bank fraud charge for a scheme to deprive the union of $142,715.78. Sentencing is scheduled for Apr. 10 before U.S. Dist. Judge Donald C. Nugent (N.D. Ohio, Clinton). [DOL 1/28/02; Plain Dealer (Cleveland) 1/30/02]
In Dec. 2000, ex-treasurer of Int'l Ass'n of Fire Fighters Local 639, Richard Adams, resigned suddenly when the local's bank accounts came up some $143,000 short. He then paid $65,000 in partial restitution for funds he allegedly embezzled from the Parma, Ohio based local since 1987. Then on Jan. 17, Adams was charged with one count of federal bank fraud. The U.S. Atty.'s Office in Cleveland said Adams once made a $3,139 house payment with a union check. But, according to the Dep't of Labor, the union embezzlement totaled $144,939.46 and final restitution will be based on that amount. Because of a loophole in federal labor labor, a federal union embezzlement charge could not be brought since Local 639 is a public sector union.
Despite the local's request that the matter be resolved internally, Parma Law Director Tim Dobeck called in the FBI and DOL to investigate in Feb. 2001. Dobeck's move disappointed Cliff Taylor, then Local 639 president. Taylor said at the time that the local wanted to handle the matter internally because "our objective was to get the money and we're recouping most of it." Taylor has since resigned.