Builder Sues NYC Unions for $100M+ Hudson Yards Ripoff

Union corruption long has contributed to cost overruns on urban real estate projects, especially in New York City where developers tend to think big. But area labor leaders now are getting some well-deserved comeuppance. On Monday, March 5, Related Companies, the general contractor of the Hudson Yards mega-development on Manhattan’s West Side, sued the Building and Construction Trades Council of Greater New York and its president, Gary LaBarbera, in State Supreme Court for actions that allegedly inflated costs by over $100 million. The defendants, reads the suit, were “condoning, if not actively participating in, various corrupt practices.” Allegations include tortious interference, time sheet fraud and wage fraud, the latter offense highlighted by a scam in which two union members received a wage of over $40 an hour for fetching coffee. Nice work if you can get it.

The Hudson Yards, a mixed-use complex under construction made possible through the … Read More ➡

Secretary of Boilermakers Local in SE Virginia Sentenced

On February 15, Tamika Bullock, former secretary-treasurer of International Brotherhood of Boilermakers Local 684, was sentenced in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia to 14 months in prison for embezzling $24,600 from the Chesapeake-based union. Bullock, now 39, a resident of Portsmouth, had pleaded guilty last November after being indicted in June. Most of the stolen money had come from the union’s “sick and distressed” account. The actions follow a probe by the U.S. Labor Department’s Office of Labor-Management Standards.… Read More ➡

IBEW Secretary in Michigan Sentenced for $300K+ Embezzlement

For about three years, Stephanie DeBoer stole from her union. She may be lucky her sentence won’t last much longer than that. On February 20, DeBoer, former office manager and bookkeeper for International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local 876, was sentenced in U.S. District Court for the Western District of Michigan to four years in prison for embezzling $307,563 from the Edmore (Montcalm County), Mich.-based union. She also will have to undergo probation following release and make full restitution. DeBoer had pleaded guilty last November after being indicted in May. The actions follow an investigation by the Labor Department’s Office of Labor-Management Standards.

According to court records, DeBoer, a resident of Cedar Springs, Mich., from sometime in 2012 until September 2015 embezzled funds from the union by writing unauthorized checks to herself and others, making unauthorized payroll deposits, making unauthorized purchases and using union funds to pay off credit card … Read More ➡

Pittsburgh Boilermakers Business Manager Sentenced for Theft, Tax Evasion

Embezzlement can bring in lots of revenue, but the costs in the end may total a lot more. Just ask Ray Ventrone. On February 12, Ventrone, former business manager for International Brotherhood of Boilermakers Local 154, was sentenced in U.S. District Court for the Western District of Pennsylvania to 41 months in prison, to be followed by three years of supervised release, for embezzling $1.5 million in funds from the Pittsburgh union and for income tax fraud. He also was ordered to pay restitution in the sums of $2,391,183 to the union and $500,000 to Zurich Surety, plus $223,881 in back taxes to the IRS. Ventrone had pleaded guilty last September after being charged in April. The actions follow a probe by the FBI, the IRS and the Labor Department’s Office of Labor-Management Standards and Office of Inspector General.… Read More ➡

LIUNA Ex-Chief of Staff Indicted for Embezzlement

As if Roderick Bennett didn’t have enough legal problems, now he’s got some more. On January 18, Bennett, former chief of staff at the Washington, D.C. headquarters of the Laborers International Union of North America (LIUNA), was indicted by a District of Columbia federal grand jury on three counts of embezzlement from the union totaling at least $170,000 and two counts of health care fraud against a union-sponsored health care plan. These charges follow an information count in November charging him with theft in the sum of $141,335. A Florida attorney, Aimee Occhetti, also was indicted with Bennett for health care fraud. The latest charges follow an investigation by the U.S. Labor Department’s Office of Labor-Management Standards, Employee Benefits Security Administration and Office of Inspector General.

Roderick Bennett, if nothing else, was well-paid during his four-year tenure as LIUNA chief of staff. For each of 2014 and 2015, his last … Read More ➡

UGSOA Local Secretary in Ohio Pleads Guilty to Theft; Sentenced

On January 23, Elizabeth Merrill, former secretary-treasurer of United Government Security Officers of America (UGSOA) Local 251, pleaded guilty in Hamilton County, Ohio Court of Common Pleas to one count of attempted theft and one count of attempted forgery from the Cincinnati-based union. She then was sentenced to 180 days in jail (suspended) and one year of probation, and was given a $100 fine. Merrill had been indicted last October in connection with the disappearance of $1,051 in union funds. The actions follow an investigation by the U.S. Labor Department’s Office of Labor-Management Standards.… Read More ➡

Government Employees President in Kansas Indicted for Embezzlement

On February 7, Robert Clearwater, former president of National Association of Government Employees (NAGE) Local 14-8, was indicted in U.S. District Court for the District of Kansas on one count of embezzlement in the amount of $11,681 and six counts of making false statements in the financial records of the Topeka-based union to conceal the thefts. NAGE is an affiliate of the Service Employees International Union. The indictment follows a probe by the Labor Department’s Office of Labor-Management Standards.… Read More ➡

Arkansas Steelworkers Secretary Charged with Embezzlement; Pleads Guilty

On February 13, Pamela Noble, former financial secretary for United Steelworkers Local 6904, was charged in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Arkansas with one count of embezzling funds from the Little Rock union in the amount of $43,274.97. She then pleaded guilty. The charge and plea follow an investigation by the U.S. Labor Department’s Office of Labor-Management Standards.… Read More ➡

Carpenters Comptroller in Michigan Sentenced for $500K Theft

On February 6, Glenn Robert Smith, former comptroller for the Michigan Regional Council of Carpenters and Millwrights (MRCC), was sentenced in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan to 15 months in prison and two years of supervised release for embezzling funds from the Detroit-based labor organization. He also was ordered to pay restitution in the sum of $534,097. Smith had pleaded guilty last October after being charged with embezzling $499,097 in MRCC funds in July 2015. The actions follow a joint investigation by the IRS and the U.S. Labor Department’s Office of Labor-Management Standards and Office of Inspector General.… Read More ➡

Oklahoma Woman Sentenced for $450K+ Ripoff of Operating Engineers Benefits

Some people don’t learn from experience. Susan Tyson seems to be one of them. On January 23, Tyson, former bookkeeper for an Oklahoma City firm, was sentenced in U.S. District Court for the Western District of Oklahoma to three years in prison for stealing $467,352.43 from a benefit plan sponsored by International Union of Operating Engineers Local 627. She also was ordered to pay $309,996 in restitution, a sum reflecting her previous repayment of more than $150,000 held in escrow. Tyson had pleaded guilty last June after being charged earlier that month in an information count. The actions follow a probe by the FBI, the U.S. Postal Inspection Service, the U.S. Labor Department’s Employee Benefits Security Administration, and various state and local law enforcement agencies.

Susan Michelle Tyson, now 51, a resident of Yukon, Oklahoma, worked as a bookkeeper for Zenith American Solutions, Inc., an Oklahoma City-based company which managed … Read More ➡

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