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.

Local IATSE Treasurer in Detroit Charged with Embezzlement

IATSE logoOn June 16, Bernadine Bell, former treasurer of International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees Local 757, was charged in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan with an information count of embezzling roughly $73,000 in funds from the Detroit union.  The charge follows a joint probe by the U.S. Labor Department’s Office of Labor-Management Standards and Office of Inspector General.

Insulators Local Bookkeeper in Alabama Charged with Thefts

Heat and Frost Insulators logoOn June 29, Michelle Clifton, former office manager/bookkeeper for International Association of Heat and Frost Insulators and Allied Workers Local 78, was charged in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Alabama with one count of embezzlement in the amount of $23,014 from the Irondale (suburban Birmingham), Ala.-based construction trades union, plus 17 counts of forged securities and two counts of making fraudulent statements.  The 20-count indictment follows an investigation by the U.S. Labor Department’s Office of Labor-Management Standards.

Massachusetts Contractors Indicted for $2M+ LIUNA Double-Breasting Scheme

LIUNA logoEmployees of Christopher and Kimberly Thompson were being had, even if they weren’t aware of it until the hammer came down.  On January 26, the Thompsons, operators of a Boston-area asbestos removal company, were indicted in U.S. District Court for the District of Massachusetts on 18 counts of mail fraud, 18 counts of benefit fraud and one count of embezzlement in a scheme to defraud members of a Laborers local out of more than $2 million in promised benefits.  The case has all the appearances of double-breasting.  Following their arrest, the couple pleaded not guilty in February and currently are free on bond.  As of this writing, the U.S. Attorney’s Office website indicates no subsequent action.  The actions follow a joint probe by the U.S. Labor Department’s Employee Benefits Security Administration and Office of Inspector General.

Missouri Steelworkers Local Treasurer Sentenced for Theft

Steelworkers logoOn June 22, Terry Aters, former treasurer of United Steelworkers Local 7689, was sentenced in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Missouri to three consecutive weekends in prison, six months in a location monitoring program and five years of probation for embezzling $153,434 from the Marston, Mo.-based union.  He also was ordered to pay full restitution plus a $100 special assessment.  Aters had pleaded guilty in March after being indicted last October.  The actions follow an investigation by the U.S. Labor Department’s Office of Labor-Management Standards.

Letter Carriers Secretary-Treasurer in Missouri Pleads Guilty

Letter Carriers logoOn June 22, John McCain, former secretary-treasurer of National Association of Letter Carriers Branch 2016, pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Missouri to one count of embezzling $30,948 in funds from the Poplar Bluff-based union.  McCain had been indicted in January following an investigation by the U.S. Labor Department’s Office of Labor-Management Standards.   

Boston Officials Indicted for Extortion on Behalf of IATSE Local

Boston City HallLocal government officials can be very creative when it comes to coaxing contractors to hire union labor.  And their methods aren’t necessarily legal.  On May 17, Kenneth Brissette, director of tourism, sports and entertainment for the City of Boston, was indicted by a federal grand jury for extortion; two days later he was arrested.  And on June 29, Brissette, along with Timothy Sullivan, City chief of staff for intergovernmental affairs, received superseding indictments.  The defendants allegedly had required a concert promoter a couple of years ago that it would have to hire workers from International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees (IATSE) Local 11 in order to receive the necessary permits.  The indictments follow a joint probe by the FBI and the U.S. Labor Department’s Office of Inspector General.

AFGE Secretary-Treasurer in Indiana Charged with Theft

AFGE logoOn June 22, Carlton Woodcox, former secretary-treasurer of American Federation of Government Employees Local 2150, was charged in Dubois County Superior Court (Indiana) on two information counts of theft totaling $32,787.  He then was arrested on June 24.  Woodcox, 56, a resident of Jasper, allegedly made unauthorized ATM withdrawals from a union account on 117 separate occasions.  The local represents employees of the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety and Inspection Service for various plants in southern Indiana.  The charges follow an investigation by the U.S. Labor Department’s Office of Labor-Management Standards.

Suburban Chicago Contractor Execs Plead Guilty to Wage and Benefit Fraud

Road construction laborersContractors over the years have devised numerous ways of fleecing unionized workers out of their wages and benefits.  Joseph Lampignano and John Traversa probably rank as among the more creative of the bunch.  On June 3, Lampignano, co-owner and vice president of a Chicago-area construction firm, A Lamp Concrete Contractors Inc., pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois to one count of mail fraud for the purpose of facilitating a scheme to avoid paying workers about $2.6 million in wage and benefit contributions.  Traversa, the company superintendent, pleaded guilty that same day to one count of lying to investigators.  Each had been charged on May 18.  The actions follow a joint probe by the FBI, the Labor Department and the Cook County Sheriff’s Office.

Fort Knox Civilian Technicians Secretary Charged; Pleads Guilty

Fort KnoxOn June 22, Steve Hartman, former secretary-treasurer of Association of Civilian Technicians Chapter 83, was charged in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Kentucky in an information count with forgery totaling $2,173 against the Fort Knox, Ky.-based union.  He then pleaded guilty.  Hartman is the second person in his position accused of stealing.  In February 2015, Thomas Wilson, a former Chapter 83 secretary-treasurer, was charged in the Commonwealth of Kentucky, Hardin County Circuit Court, with one count of felony theft from the union in an amount of more than $10,000.  In each case the charge followed a probe by the U.S. Labor Department’s Office of Labor-Management Standards and the Defense Department’s Criminal Investigative Service.

AFGE Secretary-Treasurer in North Carolina Pleads Guilty

AFGE logoOn June 13, Benjamin Stancil, former secretary-treasurer of American Federation of Government Employees Local 451, pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of North Carolina to four counts of wire fraud against the Havelock, N.C. (near New Bern) union.  He had been charged in February.  The actions follow an investigation by the U.S. Labor Department’s Office of Labor-Management Standards.

Alaska AFGE President Pleads Guilty to Embezzlement

Alaska RailroadOn June 7, Jeffrey Davies, former president of American Federation of Government Employees Local 183, pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court for the District of Alaska to one count of embezzling more than $90,000 in funds from the Anchorage-based union.  He had been indicted last December for stealing more than $100,000.  The union represents employees of the Alaska Railroad, which, though not formally a government agency, is a state-chartered and owned corporation.  The indictment and guilty plea follow a joint probe by the FBI and the U.S. Labor Department’s Office of Labor-Management Standards.

Postal Workers Official in Texas Sentenced for Concealing Thefts

APWU logoOn June 3, Nereida Norris, former clerk craft director of American Postal Workers Union Local 98, was sentenced in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Texas to nine months in prison and two years of supervised release for making a false statement in financial records of the Fort Worth-based union to conceal her theft of funds.  She also was ordered to pay $25,956 in restitution, a $5,000 fine and a $100 special assessment.  Norris had pleaded guilty in February after being charged in January.  The actions follow an investigation by the U.S. Labor Department’s Office of Labor-Management Standards.

Michigan Postal Workers Local President Sentenced

APWUOn May 31, Jesus Gonzales, former president of American Postal Workers Union Local 300, was sentenced in U.S. District Court for the Western District of Michigan to two years of probation for making false entries in the records of the Lansing union for the purpose of concealing his theft of $6,720.  He also was ordered to make full restitution.  Gonzales had pled guilty in January after being charged last August.  The actions follow a probe by the U.S. Labor Department’s Office of Labor-Management Standards and the U.S. Postal Service’s Office of Inspector General.

AFGE Ex-President in Maine Sentenced for Concealment

AFGE logoMark Durinski has repaid around half of what he stole.  That helped reduce his punishment.  On May 17, Durinski, former president of American Federation of Government Employees Local 294, was sentenced in U.S. District Court for the District of Maine to one month in prison and three years of supervised release for making false statements in financial records of the Limestone, Maine-based union to conceal duplicate reimbursements.  He had been charged last August, and subsequently pleaded guilty to three counts in September, following an investigation by the U.S. Labor Department’s Office of Labor-Management Standards.

Los Angeles-Area Local Government Employee President Charged

Lynwood, California   It took about four years for Eric Gonzalez to be caught, but justice apparently is being done.  On April 13, Gonzalez, former president of a local government employees union, the Lynwood Employees Association, was arrested by the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department on charges of embezzling more than $27,000 from the union.  He was also charged with four counts of felony grand theft.  Gonzalez pleaded not guilty at his arraignment the following day and was released on his own recognizance.

Steelworkers President in Northern Indiana Pleads Guilty

Steelworkers logoOn May 16, Donn Pendergrass, former president of United Steelworkers Local 1191, pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Indiana to one count of embezzling $33,435 in funds from the Mishawaka union.  He had been indicted last December.  The actions follow a probe by the Labor Department’s Office of Labor-Management Standards.

Oklahoma Steelworkers Officials Hit with Superseding Indictments; Plead Guilty

Steelworkers logoOn May 24, Jeremy Leach, former secretary-treasurer of United Steelworkers Local 13-669, was charged in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Oklahoma in a superseding indictment with one count of making false statements in records of the Pryor Creek, Okla.-based union.  Three days later he pleaded guilty.  On May 25, his brother, Jason Leach, former local president, was charged in a similar superseding indictment.  He pleaded guilty the next day.  The pair had been charged in April with thefts in respective amounts of $3,111 and $2,524.  The actions follow an investigation by the U.S. Labor Department’s Office of Labor-Management Standards.

Cleveland-Area Transportation Union Local Secretary Indicted

SMART logoOn May 19, Alan Shaffer, former secretary-treasurer of International Association of Sheet Metal, Air, Rail and Transportation Workers, Transportation Division (formerly known as the United Transportation Union, now known as SMART), Local 792, was indicted in the Cuyahoga County Court of Common Pleas on one count of grand theft in the amount of $8,563 from the Elyria, Ohio-based union.  The indictment follows an investigation by the U.S. Labor Department’s Office of Labor-Management Standards.

DOL's 'Persuader Rule': An Unpersuasive Boost for Union Organizing

Department of Labor logoAttorney-client privilege is a basic protection of liberty.  Yet this Friday, people may begin to find out how little the Obama administration thinks of it.  That’s when a Labor Department rule, issued in March and launched in April, fully kicks in, forcing employers to divulge the identities of outside legal help on how to avoid unionization.  This "persuader rule," as it is called, also requires such consultants to reveal their own client rosters.  Union officials laud the rule as a blow for transparency and a corrective to “union-busting.”  In reality, it is a power play designed to minimize the opportunities for nonunion workers to hear an employer’s side of the story during a union organizing drive.  Conveniently, the regulation doesn’t apply either to unions or their consultants.  As employers gear up to comply, they've gotten unexpected help from federal judges.

Security Police Treasurer in Washington State Indicted for Embezzlement

Security guardOn April 20, Charles Nelson, former treasurer for the National Council of Security Police, was indicted in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Washington on one count of embezzling more than $140,000 in funds from the Yakima-based union.  The indictment follows an investigation by the U.S. Labor Department’s Office of Labor-Management Standards.

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