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.

LIUNA Business Manager in Phoenix Pleads Guilty

LIUNA logoOn January 4, Anne Susan, former business manager of Laborers International Union of North America Local 1386, pleaded guilty in Maricopa County, Arizona Superior Court to theft, identity theft and forgery.  She had been charged with a 24-count indictment last October 5.  Charged in a 29-count indictment the same day for forgery and other offenses was former Local 1386 treasurer Therlen Benally.  The union is based in Phoenix.  The actions follow an investigation by the U.S. Labor Department’s Office of Labor-Management Standards.

Bay Area Plasterers & Cement Masons Bookkeeper Pleads Guilty; Sentenced

Plasterers & Cement Masons logoOn September 30, Maria Del Cupolo, former bookkeeper for International Association of Operative Plasterers & Cement Masons Local 300, pleaded guilty in the Superior Court of California, County of Alameda, to one count of theft from the Oakland union.  She then was sentenced to five years of probation and was ordered to pay restitution in the amount of $96,842.  Following this sentence, on December 2, she received an additional one-year sentence in Alameda County jail.  Del Cupolo had been charged in January 2015 with five counts of grand theft in an amount exceeding $65,000, plus four counts of money-laundering.  The actions follow a probe by the U.S. Labor Department’s Office of Labor-Management Standards.

Secretary of UAW-Sponsored Group in Wisconsin Sentenced

United Auto Workers logoAt least Helen Genal is remorseful.  On January 25, Genal, former secretary-treasurer of the Fox Valley Area Community Action Program, a project of the United Auto Workers, was sentenced in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Wisconsin to six months in prison for embezzling $29,968 from the Oshkosh-based labor organization.  She pled guilty last November after being charged in July with one count each of embezzlement and making a false statement in union records.  The actions follow a probe by the Labor Department’s Office of Labor-Management Standards.

Detroit Operating Engineers Ex-Boss Charged with Theft, Conspiracy

Detroit skyline at duskAnyone who believes corruption in Detroit dissipated after the multiple convictions several years ago of former Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick should take a hard look at International Union of Operating Engineers Local 324.  On December 16, John Hamilton, business manager-general vice president of the Detroit union during 2003-12, was indicted by a federal grand jury on nine counts relating to various schemes of self-enrichment at the expense of rank and file.  The indictment, the result of a multi-agency probe, accuses Hamilton of extortion, structuring, money-laundering, embezzlement and honest services fraud.  The charges shed light not only on Hamilton’s relationship with Mayor Kilpatrick, but at least as importantly, his relationship with convicted financial manager John Orecchio, no stranger to these pages.

AFGE Local President in New Jersey Indicted for Theft

AFGE logoOn December 18, Sharon Williams-Savage, former president of American Federation of Government Employees Local 2425, was indicted in the Superior Court of the City of Clifton, New Jersey on two counts of misapplication of entrusted property exceeding $1,000 and one count of unlawful taking of property exceeding $500.  AFGE Local 2425 is based in East Orange, N.J., adjacent to Newark.  The indictment follows a joint investigation by the U.S. Labor Department’s Office of Labor-Management Standards and the New Jersey State Criminal Division.

Former Employee of Kentucky Steelworkers Local Pleads Guilty; Sentenced

Steelworkers logoOn December 15, Dawn Colley, former office employee of United Steelworkers Local 8-719, pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Kentucky to concealing her theft of funds from the Ashland, Ky. union.  She then was sentenced to two years of probation and ordered to pay $4,200 in restitution, on top of the $7,446 she previously had paid, plus a $25 special assessment.  Colley had been indicted in October for embezzling $7,201.  The actions follow a probe by the U.S. Labor Department’s Office of Labor-Management Standards.

Louisville Teamster Boss Sentenced for Theft, Cover-Up

Teamsters logoOn December 10, Jerry Vincent, formerly president of International Brotherhood of Teamsters Local 783, was sentenced in U.S. District Court for the Western District of Kentucky to six months of home confinement and three years of probation for embezzling $17,272.84 from the Louisville union.   He also was ordered to pay $22,251 in restitution, a sum representing an unearned vacation advance as well as the stolen funds.  Vincent had pleaded guilty last August to one count of embezzlement and 13 counts of falsifying union records following his July 2014 indictment.  The actions follow an investigation by the U.S. Labor Department’s Office of Labor-Management Standards.

Top Ten Union Corruption Stories of the Year

Top Ten logoAs in 2014, union leaders last year directed much of their energies toward maximizing political and legal advantage.  And they scored tangible victories.  President Barack Obama, now in his last year in office, is without question the best White House friend of organized labor in decades.  Among other things, unions won major cases before the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB), with its built-in 3-2 Democratic Party majority.  And the Teamsters achieved its long-sought goal of release from federal control established following a 1989 civil racketeering settlement.  Yet organized labor also experienced its share of setbacks, especially in the courts.  And they received lots of unwanted exposure for embezzlement and fraud.  As far as rank and file members are concerned, the most pressing problem is the growing possibility that their pension plans will be depleted.     

NYC Steelworkers Ex-Boss Sentenced for Hiding Thefts

Steelworkers logoConsidering the nature of his offenses, Juan “Alex” Cedeno should consider himself fortunate.  On December 10, Cedeno, former president of United Steelworkers Local 4-318, was sentenced in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of New York to three years of probation and 250 hours of community service for concealing his thefts from the Queens, N.Y. union, which since has moved to Edison, N.J.  He also was ordered to pay $33,583 in restitution and a $25 special assessment.  Cedeno had pled guilty last March after being arrested and charged in May 2014.  The actions follow a probe by the U.S. Labor Department’s Office of Labor-Management Standards and Employee Benefits Security Administration.

Security Officers Local President in Pennsylvania Sentenced

UGSOA logoHoward Royal stole from his state employees union.  Now he owes some time to his state.  On December 14, Royal, former president of United Government Security Officers of America (UGSOA) Local 304, was sentenced in U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Pennsylvania to six months of house arrest followed by six months of supervised probation for wire fraud in connection with thefts of $66,982.02 from the Harrisburg union.  He had pleaded guilty last July.  The actions follow an investigation by the Labor Department’s Office of Labor-Management Standards.

Northern Indiana Steelworkers President Indicted for Theft

Steelworkers logoOn December 9, Donn Pendergrass, president of United Steelworkers Local 1191, was indicted in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Indiana on one count of embezzling $33,435 in funds from the Mishawaka, Ind.-based union, which represented workers at the now-closed Allegheny Technologies metal casting plant in LaPorte.  The indictment follows an investigation by the U.S. Labor Department’s Office of Labor-Management Standards.

Steelworkers Local President in West Virginia Pleads Guilty

Steelworkers logoOn December 11, James Coffey, former president of United Steelworkers Local 5-887, pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of West Virginia to one count of embezzling funds in the amount of $6,260 from the Newell, W.Va.-based union.  Coffey, a resident of Bergholz, Ohio, had been indicted last October for stealing $7,098 in union funds.  The actions follow a probe by the U.S. Labor Department’s Office of Labor-Management Standards.

Teamsters President in Florida Indicted for Theft, Records Fraud

Teamsters logoOn December 8, Robert Tuttle, former president of International Brotherhood of Teamsters Local 173, was indicted in U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Florida on four counts of embezzlement totaling $4,857 from the Bradenton-based union and one count of false record-keeping.  The indictment follows a probe by the Labor Department’s Office of Labor-Management Standards.

Letter Carriers President in Texas Charged with Credit Card Fraud

Letter Carriers logoOn December 3, Stanley Buchanan, former president of National Association of Letter Carriers Branch 493, was charged in Smith County (Tex.) Court with unauthorized use of a credit card issued by the Tyler-based union in the amount of $7,776.  The indictment follows an investigation by the Labor Department’s Office of Labor-Management Standards.

Upstate New York Elevator Constructors Business Agent Charged

Elevator Constructors logoOn December 1, Patrick Rommevaux, former business representative for International Union of Elevator Constructors Local 62, was charged in Onondaga County Court, N.Y. with one count of grand larceny in the amount of $16,545 from the Syracuse union.  He then pleaded guilty.  The actions follow an investigation by the U.S. Labor Department’s Office of Labor-Management Standards.

City of Seattle Paves Way for Rideshare Driver Organizing

Ridesharing, that scourge of the taxi industry, is getting an upgrade, union-style.  On December 14, the Seattle City Council voted 8-0 to authorize union organizing of independent drivers for Uber, Lyft and similar livery services.  The ordinance, the result of pressure from a Teamster local and several rideshare drivers, would require such businesses to hand over lists of drivers to a union.  Labor activists argue that drivers, though classified as contractors, are treated as employees and thus should be able to collectively bargain.  Yet this view ignores the features of ridesharing that make it so attractive to customers and drivers alike.  Uber and Lyft, meanwhile, say the measure violates federal labor and antitrust laws.

Treasurer of Michigan Letter Carriers Local Pleads Guilty

Letter Carriers logoOn December 2, Timothy Casperson, former treasurer of National Association of Letter Carriers Branch 249, pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court for the Western District of Michigan to one count of stealing $9,650 in funds from the Menominee (Upper Peninsula) union.  Casperson had been indicted in June for embezzlement and records fraud.  The indictment and plea follow an investigation by the U.S. Labor Department’s Office of Labor-Management Standards.

Carpenters Secretary in Ohio Sentenced for Embezzlement

Carpenters logoOn December 2, Estella Collier, former office secretary and bookkeeper for United Brotherhood of Carpenters and Joiners Local 200, was sentenced in U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Ohio to one year of probation for embezzling $12,933 in funds from the Columbus-based union.  She also was ordered to pay full restitution and attend meetings of Gamblers Anonymous.  Collier had been charged in an information count in July, after which she pleaded guilty in August.  The actions follow a probe by the Labor Department’s Office of Labor-Management Standards and Office of Inspector General.

Longshoremen Local Treasurer in Ohio Charged with Theft

Longshoremen at workOn December 1, John Allen, former treasurer of International Longshoremen’s Association Local 1982, was charged in the Lucas County (Ohio) Court of Common Pleas with one count of theft in the sum of $1,940 from the Toledo union.  The charge follows an investigation by the U.S. Labor Department’s Office of Labor-Management Standards.

Houston Transportation Union Secretary Sentenced for Theft

SMART Transportation Union logoOn November 20, Henry Shuler, former treasurer of United Transportation Union (SMART) Local 1892, was sentenced in U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Texas to three years of probation and ordered to pay a $1,000 fine and a $100 special assessment for embezzling $40,118 in funds over a six-year period from the Houston-based union.  He already had paid full restitution.  Shuler had pleaded guilty in April following a one-count charge in February.  The actions follow an investigation by the U.S. Labor Department’s Office of Labor-Management Standards.

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