For 10 years, Robert Smith III stole freely from his union. He now is realizing the meaning of the saying, “Nothing in life is free.” On Friday, October 14, Smith, former business agent and financial secretary of International Longshoremen’s Association Local 970, pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia to one count of mail fraud in connection with his theft of more than $1 million from the Norfolk-based union. He had resigned his post in April following a joint investigation by the FBI and the U.S. Labor Department’s Office of Labor-Management Standards and Office of Inspector General. He faces up to 20 years in prison at sentencing this February.
Port of Virginia, located along Hampton Roads in the southeast coastal portion of the state, is home to four marine terminals – two in Portsmouth and one each in Norfolk and Newport News. The terminals and … Read More ➡
On September 7, John Bickerstaff, former business manager of International Association of Heat and Frost Insulators and Allied Workers Local 133, was charged in U.S. District Court for the District of North Dakota with one count of embezzling $70,659 in funds from the Bismarck union, plus one count each of filing a false financial report and willfully concealing records. The charges follow a probe by the U.S. Labor Department’s Office of Labor-Management Standards.
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On September 7, Charles Nelson, former secretary-treasurer of the National Council of Security Police, pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Washington to one count of embezzling more than $140,000 in funds from the Yakima, Wash.-based union federation. Scheduling is set for December. Nelson had been charged in April. The actions follow an investigation by the U.S. Labor Department’s Office of Labor-Management Standards.… Read More ➡
On September 7, Carlton Woodcox, former secretary-treasurer for American Federation of Government Employees Local 2150, pleaded guilty in Dubois County (Indiana) Superior Court to one count of theft in the amount of $30,859 from the Jasper, Ind.-based union. A month later, on October 6, he was sentenced to 360 days of probation, eight days in jail (previously served) and 80 hours of community service. He also was ordered to pay full restitution. Woodcox, 56, a resident of Jasper, had been charged in a two-count information in June with stealing $32,787. Local 2150 represents employees of the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety and Inspection Service. The actions follow a probe by the U.S. Labor Department’s Office of Labor-Management Standards.… Read More ➡
On August 19, William Winecke, former treasurer of the Soo Line Locomotive and Car Foreman’s Association, was charged in the Dakota County (suburban Minneapolis-St. Paul) District Court with two counts of theft by swindle during August 2011-April 2015 from the Apple Valley, Minn. union in the amount of $41,036. The charge follows an investigation by the Labor Department’s Office of Labor-Management Standards.… Read More ➡
Roberto Gracia Jr. probably wishes right now that he was more attentive to detail. On August 29, Gracia, former president of International Longshoremen’s Association Local 1544, was charged in U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Texas with failing to maintain financial records of the Brownsville-based union. Several years prior to his tenure at that local, he had headed ILA Local 1395, where he also had failed to maintain financial records. Gracia’s inaction caused a combined loss of nearly $30,000. He pleaded guilty immediately thereafter and was sentenced to five years of probation. He already had paid full restitution. The actions follow an investigation by the U.S. Labor Department’s Office of Labor-Management Standards.
International Longshoremen’s Association Local 1544 represents clerks and checkers at the Port of Brownsville. Roberto Gracia, now 63, a resident of Brownsville, headed the union during 2012-13. According to prosecutors, he was less than attentive to … Read More ➡
For several years, Garry Craighead had a sweet deal going. Then the federal government discovered things were going sour. On June 10, Craighead, an Austin-area chiropractor, was sentenced in U.S. District Court for the Western District of Texas to 14 years in prison, plus three years of supervised release, for receiving kickbacks from health care providers in return for steering patients, many of them covered by union-sponsored plans, to the providers. He also was ordered to pay nearly $18 million in restitution to the Department of Labor’s workers compensation program and forfeit certain assets. Craighead had pleaded guilty to the false billing scheme last December following a probe by the FBI, IRS, U.S. Army, U.S. Postal Service and DOL’s Office of Inspector General. The scam ran parallel to another one engineered by an employee of Craighead.
Central to this saga is the Department of Labor’s Federal Employees Compensation Act (FECA), … Read More ➡
On August 26, Jeremy Leach, former secretary-treasurer of United Steelworkers Local 13-669, was ordered by U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Oklahoma to pay a $250 fine and a $25 assessment for making false statements related to his thefts from the Pryor Creek, Okla.-based union. Leach had pleaded guilty in May after being charged in April in a superseding indictment for stealing $3,111. In the same case, his brother, former local president Jason Leach, pleaded guilty in May to stealing $2,524. The actions follow an investigation by the U.S. Labor Department’s Office of Labor-Management Standards.… Read More ➡
On August 19, Keith Christopherson, former business manager for International Association of Heat and Frost Insulators Local 34, pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court for the District of Minnesota to one count of embezzlement of funds from the St. Paul-based union in the amount of $2,081. He had been charged in a one-count information in July along with former local financial secretary Scot McNamara. The actions follow a probe by the Labor Department’s Office of Labor-Management Standards.… Read More ➡
Collecting reimbursements under false pretenses has become a common scam in union-sponsored health care plans. The United Brotherhood of Carpenters and Joiners doesn’t have to be reminded of that. On August 19, five members of the union’s Indiana/Kentucky/Ohio Regional Council were charged in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Indiana with one-count informations of theft of funds from the council health care fund. Were that not enough, on August 30, six more union members were charged with the same offenses. The charges follow an investigation by the U.S. Labor Department’s Office of Inspector General and Employee Benefits Security Administration.
According to the first round of prosecutions, Bradley Crostreet, Dennis Gardner, Robert Gutierrez, Aaron Vaughan and Joshua Westfall – illegally enriched themselves at the expense of the Regional Council Welfare Fund. The defendants allegedly submitted fraudulent health care reimbursement claims, including a copy of an uncashed personal check. Though … Read More ➡