Union Corruption Update

Since 1997, NLPC has become a high-profile and credible source for information about America’s labor unions through our publication Union Corruption Update.

The newsletter has been referenced in many other media outlets including the New York Times, Chicago Tribune and National Journal.

Georgia Postal Workers Secretary-Treasurer Pleads Guilty to Embezzlement

APWU logoOn January 21, Cynthia Collins, former secretary-treasurer of American Postal Workers Union Local 12, pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Georgia to one count of embezzlement from the Athens, Ga. union. She had been indicted last July for embezzling $23,345 and then concealing the thefts in union financial reports. The actions follow an investigation by the Labor Department's Office of Labor-Management Standards.

Postal Workers President in North Carolina Charged

APWU logoOn January 13, Salvatore Mauro, former president of American Postal Workers Union Local 1236, was charged in U.S. District Court for the Middle District of North Carolina with one count of creating a false financial report. He pleaded guilty the following day. The indictment and plea follow a probe by the Labor Department's Office of Labor-Management Standards.

Ohio Bricklayers Local Treasurer Sentenced for Theft

Bricklayers logoOn January 13, Brian Stoneburner, former treasurer for International Union of Bricklayers and Allied Craftworkers Local 44, was sentenced in the Perry County (Ohio) Court of Common Pleas to 90 days of incarceration, five years of probation and 100 hours of community service for stealing $13,235 from the Newark, Ohio-based union. He also was ordered to make full restitution. Stoneburner had pleaded guilty in November after being indicted in July. The actions follow an investigation by the U.S. Labor Department's Office of Labor-Management Standards.

Harry Wilson’s Teamsters Connection and the Return of Government Motors

Harry WilsonIs the fix in? General Motors is acting like it faces a major decision in responding to the self-nomination of Harry Wilson for its board of directors. Wilson was one of the key members of President Obama's Auto Task Force, and purports to be acting at the behest of hedge funds who want GM to spend the "cash hoard" that was made possible by US taxpayers.

Ironically, Wilson was one of the people who determined how much of a "hoard" GM would accumulate, an amount he now criticizes as being excessive. During, and just prior to, GM's bankruptcy process, taxpayers supplied about $50 billion to "invest" in the company. Canadian taxpayers chipped in about $10 billion while GM had its balance sheet cleared of about $30 billion of debt. The liabilities owed to the politically-favored UAW remained intact.

Los Angeles SEIU Treasurer Sentenced for Embezzlement

Service Employees logoOn January 12, Cedric Hughes, former treasurer of the United Union of Professionals, alternately known as Service Employees International Union Local 721, was sentenced in U.S. District Court for the Central District of California to five years of probation for embezzling $15,193 in funds from the Los Angeles-based health care workers union. He also was ordered to make full restitution, and pay a $2,000 fine and a $100 special assessment. Hughes had pleaded guilty in September after being indicted in December 2013. The actions follow an investigation by the Labor Department's Office of Labor-Management Standards.

Northern California Cement Masons Local Bookkeeper Charged

OP & CMIA logoOn January 8, Maria Del Cupolo, former bookkeeper for Operative Plasterers & Cement Masons International Association Local 300, was charged in the Superior Court of California, County of Alameda, with five counts of grand theft in a combined amount of more than $65,000 from the Oakland-based union, plus four counts of money laundering. The charges follow a probe by the U.S. Labor Department's Office of Labor-Management Standards.

Nebraska Transportation Union Political Director Pleads Guilty

United Transportation Union logoRay Lineweber has decided that pleading guilty wasn't such a bad idea after all. On January 9, Lineweber, former legislative director of the United Transportation Union, Nebraska Legislative Board, pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court for the District of Nebraska to embezzling $102,907 in funds from the Omaha-based union. He had been indicted in November on one count of embezzlement, one count of mail fraud, and 15 counts of false financial record-keeping. Then, on December 2, he declined a plea deal offered by prosecutors. The actions follow an investigation by the U.S. Labor Department's Office of Labor-Management Standards.

Steelworkers Financial Secretary in Ohio Sentenced for Embezzlement

Steelworkers logoOn January 8, Robert Mays, former financial secretary of United Steelworkers Local 561, was sentenced in U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Ohio to three years of probation and 208 hours of community service for embezzling $24,833 in funds from the union, currently based in Lancaster, Ohio. He also was ordered to make full restitution. Mays had pleaded guilty in September after being indicted in July. The actions follow an investigation by the Labor Department's Office of Labor-Management Standards.

Kentucky Letter Carriers Local President Sentenced

NALC logoOn January 7, David Lynch, former president and treasurer of National Association of Letter Carriers Branch 383, was sentenced in the McCracken County, Kentucky Circuit Court to three years in prison (suspended to 30 days in the county jail while on work release) and at least two years of probation for theft of an amount between $500 and $10,000 from the Paducah-based union. He also was ordered to pay $15,805 in restitution. Lynch pleaded guilty in October after being indicted in June. The actions follow an investigation by the U.S. Labor Department's Office of Labor-Management Standards.

Four Officials of Independent Southern California Union Indicted for $900K in Thefts

San BernardinoAt United Industrial and Service Workers of America, stealing apparently was a family affair - a Romero family affair. On January 21, husband and wife John S. and Evelyn Romero, and their two adult children, John J. and Danae Romero - each a former union official - were indicted by a federal grand jury on 40 counts related mainly to their looting of about $900,000 from the Colton (San Bernardino County), Calif. union. A week later, on January 28, the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California unsealed the indictment following the arrest of the four defendants earlier that day. The actions follow a joint probe by the U.S. Labor Department's Office of Labor-Management Standards, Office of Inspector General and Employee Benefits Security Administration.

Alaska Carpenters Secretary Sentenced for Embezzlement

On January 7, Jonathan Smith, former financial secretary of United Brotherhood of Carpenters and Joiners Local 2247, was sentenced in U.S. District Court for the District of Alaska to four months in halfway house for embezzling $41,770 from the Juneau union. He also was ordered to serve five years of probation and perform 250 hours of community service, and pay full restitution. Smith had pleaded guilty in August after being indicted in April. The actions follow an investigation by the U.S. Labor Department's Office of Labor-Management Standards.

Electrical Workers Secretary in Michigan Sentenced for Embezzlement

IBEW logoAnn Marie Shaffer embezzled checks under the guise of processing them. She's now about to pay the price. On January 16, Shaffer, former dues clerk for International Brotherhood Electrical Workers (IBEW) Local 58, was sentenced in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan to a year in prison for embezzling $101,059.56 in funds from the Detroit-based union. She also was ordered to serve two years of supervised release and pay $340,267.73 in restitution. Shaffer had pleaded guilty last August following a joint probe by the U.S. Labor Department's Office of Labor-Management Standards and Office of Inspector General.

Ex-Michigan AFSCME Local President Pleads Guilty

AFSCME logoOn January 7, Amanda Kay Nault, former president of American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees Local 249, pleaded guilty in Lenawee County (Mich.) Circuit Court to embezzling $3,454 in funds from the Adrian-based union. Nault, 31, a resident of nearby Lambertville, Mich., had made union checks out to herself and then forged the signatures of other union officers. She had been charged last September, several months after her resignation. Local 249 represents ProMedica laboratory workers in Lenawee County.

Postal Workers Local President in Indiana Indicted; Turns Self In

APWU logoOn January 12, Pamela Nessen, former president of American Postal Workers Union Local 286, turned herself into police in the wake of her indictment in November by a federal grand jury that she had embezzled $58,598 from the Fort Wayne, Ind. union. Nessen, now 58, headed the APWU local during November 2009-November 2013, and had been living in Jensen Beach, Fla. when the indictment came down. She pleaded not guilty the next day. The actions follow a U.S. Labor Department investigation.

Feds Release Teamsters from Oversight, But Is Corruption Really Gone?

James Hoffa, Jr.This past January 14, the Justice Department and the International Brotherhood of Teamsters reached an agreement to end a quarter-century of federal oversight. Prosecutors believe a new era is overdue. "While threats persist, the organized crime influence the government found to have reached the highest echelons of IBT leadership in 1988 has long been expunged," announced Southern District of New York U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara. The deal, set for a hearing on February 11 before District Chief Judge Loretta Preska, phases in an autonomy plan over five years and institutes safeguards against corruption.

Railroad Workers Secretary-Treasurer in Kansas Sentenced

BLET logoOn January 5, Dale Hull, formerly secretary-treasurer for Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers and Trainmen Division 261, was sentenced in U.S. District Court for the District of Kansas to two years of supervised release, and ordered to pay $17,000 in restitution, for embezzling funds from the Herington, Kan.-based union, a Teamsters affiliate. He had pleaded guilty in September after being charged in July. Hull admitted that starting in 2008 he made unauthorized account transfers from the union account to a personal checking account and then concealed the thefts on financial reporting forms. The union represents Union Pacific Railroad employees in Herington and Salina. The actions follow a probe by the Labor Department's Office of Labor-Management Standards.

President of Michigan Retail Workers Local Charged with Embezzlement

Retail Workers Union logoOn December 11, Edward Feld, former president of Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union (RWDSU) Local 374, was charged in the 10th District Court of Calhoun County, Michigan, with one count of felony embezzlement from the Battle Creek union in an amount of at least $1,000 but less than $20,000. RWDSU is an affiliate of the United Food and Commercial Workers. The charge follows a probe by the U.S. Labor Department's Office of Labor-Management Standards.

SE Virginia Letter Carriers Local Secretary-Treasurer Charged; Pleads Guilty

NALC logoOn December 17, Choi Hawks, former secretary-treasurer of National Association of Letter Carriers Branch 6066, pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia to one count of embezzling $10,744 from the Chesapeake, Va.-based union after being charged on November 14. The charge and guilty plea follow an investigation by the U.S. Labor Department's Office of Labor-Management Standards.

CWA Secretary-Treasurer in Dallas Admits to Embezzlement

Communications Workers logoSharon Ratcliff had a lot of expenses to cover. Unfortunately, she used her union as a personal bank. On November 14, Ratcliff, formerly secretary-treasurer of Communications Workers of America Local 6150, was charged in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Texas with embezzling more than $75,000 in funds from the Dallas-based union. Six days later, on November 20, she filed a factual resume with the court, effectively pleading guilty. The actions follow a probe by the U.S. Labor Department's Office of Labor-Management Standards.

Top Ten Union Corruption Stories of the Year

Top Ten logoIf the year 2014 had a main theme, it was, as in 2013, the unions' pursuit of legal advantage. The results were mixed. Unions scored victories at the National Labor Relations Board, but they tasted defeat in the courts, most notably in their effort to unionize private home care providers in Illinois and overturn a Wisconsin law reining in public-sector costs. In another bitter pill, the United Auto Workers last February lost a representation election at the Volkswagen plant in Chattanooga. As for dipping their hands in tills, national union leaders generally behaved themselves, but many local bosses, office employees and business agents did not.

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