Union Corruption Update

Rhode Island Union Steward and Mafia Soldier Pleads Guilty

Matthew Guglielmetti’s career as a made man is over.  But that doesn’t mean he’ll be cooperating with authorities to end other careers in the New England criminal underworld.  That’s what his attorney, at least, is counting on.


On May 13, Guglielmetti, standing before U.S. District Judge Ernest Torres, pleaded guilty to attempted cocaine-trafficking charges.  His arrest back in January was a classic sting of a union whose top leadership long had worked with organized crime figures.  Back in 1995 LIUNA, well documented to be in cahoots with mobsters, had averted a federal RICO suit by agreeing to a supervised internal cleanup.


Former Iowa Secretary Sentenced for Embezzlement

On May 12, Amanda Kemmer, ex-secretary for Bricklayers Local 3 in the Des Moines area, was given a 24-month prison sentence plus three years probation, and was ordered to pay full restitution for embezzling union funds.  Kemmer pleaded guilty last December in federal court to stealing more than $209,000 over the period January 1997-April 2004.  She’d pocketed about $175,000 of that by using a rubber stamp to write herself checks, and raked in the rest by altering pay stubs and pilfering cash.   (OLMS, 5/27).


Labor Officials, Lawmakers Warn AFL-CIO on Social Security Politics

Organized labor has made little secret of its opposition to the Bush administration’s proposal to reform the Social Security system.  The Labor Department and certain ranking members of Congress want to make sure that the unions, led by the AFL-CIO, keep their campaign in bounds.  DOL recently issued a reminder; one might not be enough.   


New Jersey Local Boss Pleads Guilty to Embezzlement

David Feeback enjoyed nights out on the town.  He soaked it all up – fine food, fine champagne, and even a few belly dancers for good measure.  But now the former president of Local 69 of the Hotel Employees and Restaurant Employees International Union (HERE) may have to get used to prison fare.  That’s because all that fun came out of raids on the union cookie jar. 


Ex-Bookkeeper for Southern California Local Charged with Embezzlement

Leslie Patricia Bell made off like a bandit back when she ran the books for Laborers Local 1184.  Now she’s being prosecuted like one.  The Justice Department announced on May 4 that they had charged the 39-year-old Palm Desert, Calif. woman with embezzling more than $178,000 from the union.  From 1997 until her termination in July 2003, Bell served as full-time bookkeeper for the local, which represents some 3,200 construction, maintenance and grounds keeping workers in Riverside and San Bernardino Counties.  Since she already had pled guilty, the announcement would have seemed anticlimactic.  But the U.S. Attorney’s Office believes the case is serious enough to warrant formal charges. 


Queens (N.Y.) Union Stewards and Contractor Exposed in Bribery Scandal

Hiring carpenters at below union-scale wages and benefits can be profitable – for union shop stewards as well as contractors.  That’s what a federally-appointed monitor of New York City’s District Council of Carpenters found after an extensive investigation into allegations of bribery at local construction sites. 


Two Boston-Area Union Members Indicted for Loan Sharking

On Monday, May 16, the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Boston announced the arrests and four-count indictment of Virgil “Duke” Farese, 72, of Framingham, Mass., and James Armstrong, 39, of Boston.  The two men, alleges the indictment, from February 1997 through December 2000, lent money at usurious rates to fellow members of their union, Tunnel Workers Local 88.  Based on a joint federal-local investigation, Farese and Armstrong indicated to borrowers they would have to get violent in the event of a late payment.  The cost of a loan was steep, carrying a weekly interest rate of 10 percent.  If convicted, the two men face up to 20 years in prison and a $250,000 fine on each of the four loan-sharking charges.   (PR Newswire Association, 5/16).  



14 Chicago Mobsters Indicted for Murders and Other Felonies

The Department of Justice has taken a dramatic step to combat Chicago’s most feared gangsters.  In the process, any number of crooked union officials may have a change in career plans.    


Probes into Detroit VA Hospital Workers Local Reveals Long Pattern of Corruption

Local 933 of the American Federation of Government Employees for the last few years has been in financial shambles.  The explanation lies at the top.  The local’s leadership operated their union like a personal bank.  A series of investigations, most recently by the Detroit News, reveal a disturbing pattern of embezzlement and other forms of malfeasance. 


Free-Spending Philadelphia Islamic School Head Got Major Help from Union Pals

"An outstanding citizen, an outstanding cleric, and a person to be emulated" –  that was Patrick Gillespie, head of the 35,000-member AFL-CIO Building and Trades Council for the Philadelphia area, describing the director of a local religious school now on trial for fraud, bribery and extortion.  The object of Gillespie’s admiration was Shamsud-din Ali, a Muslim cleric (or "imam"), who ran Philadelphia’s Sister Clara Muhammad School – or perhaps more accurately, ran it into the ground.  But it’s where Ali got his money that interests prosecutors as much as where the money went.

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