On September 17, Jeanine Breaux, former secretary-bookkeeper for United Brotherhood of Carpenters and Joiners Local 1846, was sentenced in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Louisiana to three years of probation, and ordered to pay $82,414 in restitution and a $100 assessment, for embezzling funds from the Metairie-based union. She had pleaded guilty in March after being charged in February. The actions follow an investigation by the U.S. Labor Department's Office of Labor-Management Standards.
On September 16, Juanita Phillips, former president of American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees Local 389, pleaded guilty in the Supreme Court of the State of New York to one count of grand larceny in an unspecified amount against the New York City-based home care employees union. The guilty plea follows an investigation by the Labor Department's Office of Labor-Management Standards.
Union officials often are best prepared for war when invoking the specter of "peace." A new report from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, "Labor Peace Agreements: Local Government as Union Advocate," explains why these agreements are the result of union pressure, subtle or otherwise. In such cases, a city, county or state government, having asserted a "proprietary interest" in existing or planned commercial facilities such as hotels or a sports arena, passes an ordinance requiring that a union and/or employer forgo certain rights protected by federal labor law. On the surface, these measures promote a level playing field. In practice, they are political gifts to unions. Currently, 11 states impose, or allow locally, such mandates. In response, at least three states have banned their use.
On September 4, Celia Ferrand, former payroll clerk for International Brotherhood of Teamsters Local 135, pleaded guilty in Marion County, Indiana Superior Court to one count of receiving stolen property. She then was sentenced to 730 days on probation and ordered to pay $6,000 in restitution. The union, with nearly 15,000 members, is based in Indianapolis. The actions follow an investigation by the Labor Department's Office of Labor-Management Standards.
On September 3, Paul Vargas, former treasurer of International Association of Fire Fighters Local 102-F, pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of California to misdemeanor theft in the amount of $120 from the Lemoore, Calif. (in the San Joaquin Valley) union. He then was sentenced to three years of unsupervised probation and 250 hours of community service, and was ordered to pay $11,065 in restitution, a $1,000 fine and a $25 special assessment. The plea and sentencing follow an investigation by the U.S. Labor Department's Office of Labor-Management Standards.
On September 2, David Barr, former treasurer of Glass, Molders, Pottery, Plastics & Allied Workers Local 99, was sentenced in U.S. District Court for the Western District of Pennsylvania to two years of probation for embezzling $5,688 in funds from the Beaver County, Pa.-based union. He also was ordered to pay outstanding restitution of $3,745 and a $100 special assessment. He had pleaded guilty in April after being charged in August 2013. The actions follow a joint probe by the U.S. Labor Department's Office of Labor-Management Standards and Office of Inspector General.
Northern New Jersey's International Longshoremen's Association Local 1235 has remained a profit center for the Genovese crime family despite the reform process set in motion by various prosecutions and an ILA takeover. That reality was brought home on October 15 when Robert Ruiz, an ex-local delegate to the parent union, was sentenced in Newark federal court to 20 months in prison, plus two years of supervised release, for his role in a racket to extort payments from members during Christmas season. He had pleaded guilty in May to conspiracy. Ruiz is among more than a dozen defendants in the case.
On September 8, Cedric Hughes, former treasurer of the United Union of Professionals, also known as Service Employees International Union Local 721, pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court for the Central District of California to one count of embezzlement of funds from the Los Angeles union in the amount of $15,193. The union represents local health care workers. Hughes had been indicted last December on five counts of wire fraud and one count of embezzlement following a probe by the U.S. Labor Department's Office of Labor-Management Standards.
On September 12, James Jones, former business manager for International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local 898, was sentenced in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Texas to six months in prison and three months of supervised release, and ordered to pay a $100 special assessment, for embezzling funds from the San Angelo-based union in the amount of $11,164. Jones, indicted in January, had pleaded guilty in April. He already has paid full restitution. The actions follow an investigation by the U.S. Labor Department's Office of Labor-Management Standards.
On September 12, Robert Mays, former financial secretary of United Steelworkers Local 561, pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Ohio to one count of embezzlement in the amount of $24,833. He had been charged in July. The charge and guilty plea follow a probe by the Labor Department's Office of Labor-Management Standards.