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.

New Jersey Local President Pleads Guilty to Tax Evasion

It might not go into the records as embezzlement, but Gary Weightman will pay a price anyway.  Weightman, formerly president of Local 190 of the American Postal Workers Union, pleaded guilty in Newark federal court on December 5 to two counts of tax evasion.  Back in February 2006, he and local Secretary-Treasurer John McGovern, both full-time postal workers, were indicted for embezzling at least $400,000 from the Clifton, N.J. union.  Weightman’s attorney, Stephen Pellino, indicated at the time that his client was innocent and that he had not intended to steal any funds.  Both men had been released on a $100,000 bond.


The three-count indictment indicated that Weightman and McGovern during April 2000-October 2002 embezzled funds from Local 190 payroll and operating accounts.

Southern California Local President Probed for Embezzlement

Police officers are fallible like the rest of us.  And that can mean fallible enough to steal.  The suspicion going around the Redondo Beach Police Officers Association is that one of their own has been ripping them off.  And the likely culprit is the man at the top.  Several weeks ago, Sgt. Gene Tomatini, a member of the Redondo Beach police force and head of its special investigations unit, was suspended from both his union and police officer’s position and placed on paid administrative leave following the association accountant’s discovery of “irregularities.” 

Employee of Chicago Local Pleads Guilty to Embezzlement

Maintenance workers are supposed to be cleaning up buildings, not cleaning out financial accounts.  Van T. Barnes didn’t think people would know the difference.  Barnes, a longtime maintenance worker employed by International Brotherhood of Teamsters Local 705, pleaded guilty on July 30 in federal court to theft or embezzlement of funds from the Chicago union.  And he managed to do it under the guise of running an enterprise.

Ex-Local President in New Mexico Indicted for Fraud

On December 3, Fidel R. Garza, former president of American Federation of Government Employees Local 2063 in Albuquerque, was indicted in U.S. District Court for the District of New Mexico on 58 counts each for wire fraud and deprivation of honest services associated with the defrauding of the local by about $84,000.  The charge follows an investigation by the U.S. Department of Labor.  (OLMS, 12/19/08).  


Minnesota Local Financial Secretary Charged with Theft

Obama Labor Nominee Hilda Solis Supports Coercive Card Check and Says Illegal Aliens are Americans

Dr. Carl Horowitz, director of the Organized Labor Accountability Project of the National Legal and Policy Center (NLPC), today reacted to Barack Obama’s nomination of Rep. Hilda Solis (D-CA) for Labor Secretary. He said:

This is a terrible nomination. Solis is a total flack for the union bosses. I predict an explosion of union corruption, especially with infrastructure stimulus funds flowing to unions like the Laborers and Teamsters, which still have not freed themselves from the influence of organized crime.

Illinois Governor, Aide Arrested in Probe of Senate Appointment

Rod Blagojevich has led a charmed life since being elected governor of Illinois in 2002 - "charmed" as in large numbers of people wondering why he hadn't been arrested.  His good fortune recently ended.  And his removal from office might not be the end of the questions swirling around the incoming Obama presidency.  The governor, now 52, along with his chief of staff, John Harris, 46, were arrested in the early morning hours of Tuesday, December 9 by FBI agents on charges of conspiring to sell or trade the U.S. Senate seat recently vacated by President-Elect Barack Obama to the highest bidder.  A 76-page FBI affidavit released by the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Northern District of Illinois reveals Blagojevich apparently caught on court-authorized wiretaps and listening devices making self-incriminating statements.  Organized labor, as it turns out, played more than a peripheral role in this scandal.


Ex-Michigan Secretary-Treasurer Probed in Casino Pension Deal

Ralph Mabry’s career as a union leader ended more than two years ago when he was convicted of obtaining an illegal discount on the construction of his home.  Now another questionable arrangement from bygone days is coming back to haunt the former executive secretary-treasurer of the Michigan Regional Council of Carpenters.  Late in November, Mabry’s lawyer, James K. Robinson, confirmed in a court filing that his client was under federal investigation for his role in an alleged kickback scheme involving the investment of union funds in a Biloxi, Mississippi casino.  Mabry remains free on bond while he appeals his earlier conviction and sentence to the U.S. Supreme Court.


Rhode Island Organizer Indicted for Role in Kickback Probe

Nicholas Manocchio hasn’t quite come full circle to his former life of crime, but he’s too close for comfort.  Back in 1980, while as a microbiology student at the University of Washington, he was arrested for killing a nightclub owner in North Providence, R.I. and eventually was convicted of manslaughter.  Following his release from prison, he ran a sports memorabilia store and then landed a job with the Laborers International Union of North America, eventually becoming director of the union’s New England Region Organizing Fund.  He’s not likely to hold that position much longer.  On November 24, federal agents in Providence unsealed a grand jury indictment against him for labor racketeering conspiracy.  Manocchio allegedly accepted cash payments and other things of value from an undercover FBI agent posing as a building contractor looking for work on a redevelopment project.   


Former President of Indiana Local Sentenced for Embezzlement

Jeanette McFarland is the third official of Glass, Molders, Pottery, Plastics and Allied Workers Local 285 to be sentenced for theft from the Fort Wayne, Indiana union.  Rank and file members are hoping she’s the last.  On December 1, McFarland was sentenced in federal court to time served and three years of supervised probation for embezzling $7,604 from her union, which represents workers at Fort Wayne Foundry.  She also will have to pay restitution.  McFarland had admitted her guilt in a plea agreement in September.

Florida Local Secretary-Treasurer Indicted for Embezzlement

On November 19, Tarris Dallas, former financial secretary of Local 9-415 of United Steelworkers, was indicted in U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Florida on one count of embezzling funds from the Fernandina Beach union in the approximate amount of $105,000.  The indictment follows an investigation by the U.S. Labor Department’s Office of Labor-Management Standards.  (OLMS, 12/12/08).


Minnesota Local Financial Secretary Sentenced for Thefts

Rhode Island Organizer, Contractor Charged with Racketeering

Mob-union alliances never quite went out of style in Providence, Rhode Island.  Federal prosecutors are determined that one day they will.  On October 28, a grand jury charged two men, Harold Tillinghast, Jr. and Gerald Diodati, with conspiracy to commit labor racketeering.  The defendants, respectively, a former organizer for Laborers International Union of North America Local 271 and a Providence building contractor, allegedly facilitated a project kickback scheme that involved the union and New England’s Patriaraca crime family.  The charges are the result of an FBI probe that began in 2002.

Unions among Contributors to Rep. Jefferson’s Defense Fund

Congressman William Jefferson has a knack for attracting the wrong kinds of people with money.  That skill earned him a high-profile federal indictment a year and a half ago.  The Louisiana Democrat is going to need his friends, too, which include labor chieftains, when he goes on trial in Alexandria, Virginia early next year.  Voters in his New Orleans district also are showing their loyalty.  This November they handed him a runoff victory over his rival, Helena Moreno, in the Democratic primary.  And they’re overwhelmingly likely to return him to Congress when he faces Republican challenger Anh Cao in the December 6 general election, which, like the primary, is being held late due to Hurricane Gustav.  The man’s been leading a charmed life – at least if one ignores the possibility of a prison sentence of up to 235 years.

New Jersey Local Business Agent Sentenced for Thefts

John DaBronzo’s compulsive gambling almost wrecked his union.  Now his main concern is putting his own life back together.  The former business agent for Local 89 of the International Association of Heat and Frost Insulators and Asbestos Workers, was sentenced on Friday, November 14 in federal court to two years in prison for thefts from the Trenton, N.J.-based union totaling nearly $830,000.  He also will have to make full restitution.

Obama White House Would Deliver the Goods for Unions

News commentators routinely employed the words “transformative” and “historic” to describe the outcome of the presidential election this November 4.  While Barack Obama’s race was the main reason for such words, there’s little question that the new president-elect intends to radically transform the relationship between major American institutions and government.  Labor unions happen to be among those institutions.  Throughout the campaign, the Illinois Democratic Senator made clear his view that American workers have been getting the short end of the stick and need a new social compact.  Large Democratic majorities taking control of both houses of Congress this January will make the task of President Obama’s history-making a lot easier.  And he plans to make up for lost time in a hurry.    


Labor officials are savoring the possibilities.

Smithfield Foods, Union Settle; Corporate Campaign Ends

Corporate campaigns, by intent, make headlines.  Their resolution can be far less dramatic.  Such was the case with the United Food and Commercial Workers’ campaign against Smithfield Foods.  Since 2006, the UFCW had been waging a full-fledged war against the company.  Its picketing, boycotting, leafleting and media event-staging were the culmination of a 15-year effort to organize roughly 5,000 workers at its Tar Heel, N.C. pork processing plant, about an hour and a half’s drive south of Raleigh.  The campaign became so intense (or abusive, depending on how one looks at it) that Smithfield last October filed a federal civil racketeering and extortion lawsuit against the union, accusing it of willfully disseminating misleading information designed to destroy the company’s stock price and sales.  Now, suddenly, peace has broken out.

New Jersey Potal Workers Secretary-Treasurer Pleads Guilty to Embezzlement

For a while anyway, a union credit card was Kevin Sherlock’s ticket to the good life.  Now it’s the ticket to what may be his prison sentence.  On Thursday, November 6, Sherlock, former secretary-treasurer of National Association of Letter Carriers Local Branch 272, pleaded guilty in Newark federal court to using two union-issued credit cards to ring up about $45,000 in illegal charges.  Sherlock, 53, a resident of Hopatcong, N.J., who worked in that community’s post office, admitted that during 2001-05 he made unauthorized charges for food, liquor, gasoline and other items.  The union, based in Newton, N.J., represents about 200 postal workers in Morris and Sussex Counties.

North Carolina Local Office Manager Pleads Guilty to Theft

On October 24, Krista Yeatts, former office manager of International Association of Machinists Local 2444, pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court for the Middle District of North Carolina to embezzling union funds in the amount of $47,746.01.  She was charged in July.  The union is based in Winston-Salem.  The plea follows an investigation by the U.S. Labor Department’s Office of Labor-Management Standards.  (OLMS, 11/5/08).


Ex-Bookkeeper in Cincinnati Pleads Guilty to Embezzlement

Members of Large California Health Care Local Sue SEIU, Stern

The insurrection by a major California affiliate of the Service Employees International Union against Washington, D.C. headquarters is getting closer by the month to an all-out confrontation.  The dissenting faction, known as United Healthcare Workers-West (UHW) and led by Sal Rosselli, for the last couple years has been openly critical of international President Andrew Stern and his top lieutenants for focusing on membership expansion at the expense of quality contracts.  On September 17, nearly 30 members of the Oakland, Calif.-based local took the battle to a new level, filing a complaint in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California that accuses SEIU leaders of suppressing their rights.  The action, a retort to a failed action this spring by the parent union, seeks declaratory and injunctive relief. 

Radical Critics Claim ACORN Probe Is Vote Suppression Plot

Denial is a powerful mechanism.  And when one’s allies are under investigation, the first instinct all too often is to question the motives of the investigators rather than consider the evidence.  So it is with the ongoing probe by federal and state authorities of the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now, or ACORN.  Union Corruption Update over the last couple years, and especially in recent months, has been vigilant in highlighting examples of blatant voter registration fraud in the 2004, 2006 and 2008 election cycles committed by ACORN volunteers.  In all key battleground states, the hard-Left ACORN, heavily supported by organized labor (indeed, in the cases of SEIU Locals 100 and 880, ACORN does the organizing), has been active in voter registration.  And by various accounts, they’ve produced a bumper crop of phony names, phony addresses and same-person multiple registrations. 

Boston Union Members Convicted, Sentenced in Time Scam

Even for longshoremen, crime doesn’t pay.  And it doesn’t necessarily deliver benefits either.  That’s especially true on the South Boston docks.  On October 2, after a four-day trial, a Suffolk County, Massachusetts jury found union dockworker Robert Miller guilty of logging more than 100 hours on timesheets that he hadn’t worked so as to meet the minimum threshold hours necessary to qualify for certain benefits.  Eight days later, on October 10, the jury convicted Francis Biagiotti on similar fraud and conspiracy charges. The two cases were the last resulting from 20 state indictments over two years ago. 

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