A decade ago, John Hamilton was a powerful labor leader. Now he’s about to experience the power of incarceration. Last Wednesday, March 14, Hamilton, former business manager and general vice president of International Union of Operating Engineers Local 324, was sentenced in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan to two years in prison for conspiring to commit extortion with at least two other Local 324 officials. He also was ordered to pay $250,000 in restitution to the people he shook down. Hamilton had been convicted last August after being indicted on nine counts for extortion, embezzlement and other offenses. The actions follow an investigation by the FBI, the IRS and the U.S. Labor Department’s Office of Inspector General and Employee Benefits Security Administration.
According to federal prosecutors, Hamilton, now 63, for the last few years a resident of Ocala, Fla., had demanded that business agents and members … Read More ➡
In mid-February, Timothy Smith, former secretary-treasurer for Association of Civilian Technicians Chapter 84, was charged in Anchorage federal court with embezzling more than $80,000 in funds from the union, which represents personnel at Elmendorf-Richardson Joint Air Force Base. The charge follows an investigation by the U.S. Labor Department’s Office of Labor-Management Standards.… Read More ➡
Joel Wagner took liberties with his union expense account once too often. On January 16, Wagner, treasurer of the Dane County Sheriff’s Association, was charged in Wisconsin state circuit court with two counts of theft and six counts of misrepresentation in the disappearance of about $10,000 in funds from the Madison-based union. Though Wagner had retired from the sheriff’s office early last year, the association had begun to probe his handling of finances in 2016. Wagner’s lawyer, Chris Van Wagner, says that Wagner is prepared to reimburse the union for “every dime that he had taken.”
According to the complaint, Joel Wagner, now 54, a resident of Sun Prairie, Wisc., engaged in acts of theft between sometime in 2011 and May 2016. By the latter year, after leaving his union post, union leaders had grown suspicious. Wagner’s successor, Greg Leatherberry, along with union president John Cahill, asked Wagner several times … Read More ➡
Mike Music is a corrections officer. He soon may be an inmate. This past December, Music, a corrections officer with the King County (Wash.) Corrections Guild, was charged in King County Court with embezzling a little over $1,300 from his union, where he had served as treasurer. Yet the alleged sum is a pittance compared to the $150,000 that he and four other former members of the Tukwila (near Seattle)-based guild had been accused in 2016 of stealing. Music pleaded not guilty at his arraignment on January 8. The charge follows an 18-month investigation by Tukwila police.
According to prosecutors, Music, now 49, a resident of Tacoma and a 21-year veteran of the King County Corrections Department, made a series of suspicious transactions during late 2014 through September 2015 and which may have begun earlier than that. That’s because he had help from four other union members who, like him, … Read More ➡
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 ➡
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 ➡
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 ➡
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 ➡
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 ➡
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 ➡