Union Corruption Update

Union Takes Over Chicago-Area Local; Major Issues Remain

The International Association of Iron Workers seemed willing to overlook a lot of things that had gone wrong at Riggers Local 136 in the Chicago suburb of River Grove, Illinois.  Former longtime local boss Fred Schreier had pleaded guilty in federal court to graft.  The Department of Labor this July filed a lawsuit alleging financial irregularities in the pension and welfare accounts of this and other Iron Workers locals.  And the Justice Department had begun a probe into long-suspected mob influence at Local 136.  But when local bosses stopped forwarding dues, it was time for the international union to take over the show. 


New York State Says “No” to Genovese-Linked Contractor

These past few years have been heady times for Worth Construction.  The Bethel, Conn.-based contractor has become one of the largest in the New York City area.  It’s been building roads, schools, hospitals, sewage treatment plants, and government buildings, generating $186 million in revenues in 2004 alone.  Unfortunately, its president, Joseph Pontoriero, has been keeping the wrong kind of company – the Genovese crime family kind.  For certain regulators and law enforcement agencies, these associations have raised red flags.  There have been enough of them at any rate for New York State Comptroller Alan Hevesi to deny the company the eligibility to compete for a $46 million Thruway Authority contract.  An ongoing investigation of the contractor may implicate certain members of the United Brotherhood of Carpenters and Joiners.

Indiana District Ex-Secretary Charged with Embezzlement

The Northwest Indiana District Council of the United Brotherhood of Carpenters and Joiners has gone through a rocky past few years.  They aren’t getting any smoother either.  This past May Gerry Nannenga, formerly council secretary-treasurer, was sentenced to 18 months in federal prison for accepting bribes in connection with a scheme to purchase a 55-acre tract of land with $10 million in union pension money.  The land, part of the Coffee Creek planned community project in Chesterton, Ind., actually was worth only about $5 million.

Ex-Treasurer in Maryland Pleads Guilty

On November 14, Henry Michael Turner, ex-treasurer for National Federation of Federal Employees Local 2058, pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court, District of Maryland, to one count of making false statements in union records.  Turner had concealed his embezzlement of $40,474 in union funds.  The guilty plea follows an investigation by the U.S. Department of Labor’s Office of Labor-Management Standards.  The AFL-CIO-affiliated NFFE represents federal and District of Columbia local government employees.  (OLMS, 12/6).  


Blockbuster Book on Union Corruption Set for Publication

It’s hardly front-page news that union corruption in this country goes back many decades.  What may be less obvious is that some of the best exposes of organized labor’s goons and embezzlers have come from critics within their ranks.  A new book, scheduled for February release, makes a strong case for union leaders to pay more attention to dissenters, and in the process avoid having to deal with cops, prosecutors and the courts later on.  Written by former professor (Cornell, NYU) and longtime union organizer Robert Fitch, it’s called Solidarity for Sale:  How Corruption Destroyed the Labor Movement and Undermined America’s Promise (Public Affairs Press).  It makes for a superb companion to Linda Chavez and Daniel Gray’s Betrayal: How Union Bosses Shake Down Their Members and Corrupt American Politics and Herman Benson’s Rebels, Reformers and Racketeers:  How Insurgents Transformed the Labor Movement (Association of Union Democracy),

Thug’s Testimony for Prosecutors Influenced Jury Acquittals

At first reading, it seems like a travesty of justice.  But the acquittals of all three defendants in the recent criminal trial of two highly-paid ranking Longshoremen officials and an underworld associate should be placed in context.  The jury in that Brooklyn, N.Y.

RICO Suit Against Washington, D.C. Union, Bank Settled

Nathan Saunders didn’t quite get the closure he was looking for.  But the one he got will more than do.  Saunders is currently vice president of the Washington Teachers Union (WTU).  Back in 2002, as a high-school teacher in the city school system, he filed suit under the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act against several former WTU officials, the local’s parent affiliate American Federation of Teachers, and a Washington, D.C. financial institution, Independence Federal Savings Bank.  The defendants, whose roster includes various convicted local officers, including now-imprisoned ex-President Barbara Bullock, had stolen at least $4.6 million during the period 1995-2002.  Saunders spoke for a lot of dues-paying members in demanding full recovery of the money.  He wound up getting about a tenth of his wish. 


Ex-Treasurer in NW Wisconsin Sentenced for Embezzlement

For years Patricia Morgan drove a school bus.  Unknown to anyone, her husband had driven her nearly mad – and to crime.  Morgan, 44, had served as treasurer for American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees Local 1397, which represents staff for the Superior, Wisconsin school district.  During October 1999 to March 2005, police records show, she embezzled $75,515 from the local.  Douglas County Circuit Court Judge Michael Lucci sentenced Morgan to 120 days in the county jail and five years probation; she also will have to make restitution. 


Wisconsin Corrections Union Official Sentenced for Theft

About the last thing a corrections officer needs is a criminal record.  Inmates and wardens alike may have it in for him.  Christopher Dehn, a former officer at Columbia Correctional Institution in Portage, Wisconsin, knows this unwritten rule too well.  His dilemma is that he’ll have six months in the county jail to contemplate it.  Dehn, 36, over a two-year period, embezzled tens of thousands of dollars from AFSCME Local 3394, which represents workers at the very corrections facility where he will serve time.  He’d worked there from October 1999 until March of this year, when authorities discovered missing funds, concluding he was the culprit.


Former Local Boss in Wisconsin Sentenced for Embezzlement

Michael Rice had served as president of Local 538 of the United Food and Commercial Workers since the late 80s.  On Tuesday, November 29, he found out how long he’ll have to serve in another capacity:  six months as an inmate in prison, plus an additional three years of supervised release.  Rice, a resident of Madison, had embezzled slightly over $30,000 from the local in the form of bogus expense claims filed between September 2000 and April 2004.  He pleaded guilty in September and since has made restitution.  In sentencing Rice, U.S. District Judge Barbara Crabb took note of the fact the some of his thefts took place during a bitter a

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