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.

Michigan Electrical Workers Local Treasurer Ordered to Pay Fine

Electrical Workers logoOn February 8, Carolyn Williams, former secretary-treasurer of International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local 352, was ordered by the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Michigan to pay a $1,000 fine and a $100 special assessment. She previously had made restitution to the Lansing union in the amount of $9,554.14 after pleading guilty in October to embezzlement. The sentencing follows a probe by the labor Department's Office of Labor-Management Standards.

Right to Work Group Files Lawsuit Calling for Labor Department Disclosure

Labor Secretary Hilda SolisLike any cabinet-level agency, the U.S. Department of Labor under the Obama administration has its share of political cronies. And the department has given more than a few indications that it intends to remake DOL into a vehicle for union advocacy. The National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation (NRTW) for the past year has sought the full story. It's one of the less publicized aspects of the apparent lack of accountability in the current administration. This past December, attorneys for the Springfield, Va.-based foundation filed a lawsuit in U.S. District Court demanding the Labor Department release information in response to a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request NRTW had filed last April seeking facts about lobbying and other activities by Labor Secretary Hilda Solis (see photo) and other ranking officials. Raising further the distinct possibility that the DOL has not complied with the law is a recent article in the Washington Times summarizing how the Obama administration has gutted as many union transparency rules as possible.

NYC Laborers Benefits Manager Indicted for $42 Million Theft

SandhogsThe indictment of Melissa King may have been a formality, but members of the union from which she allegedly stole on a staggering scale are satisfied all the same. On February 17, King, former longtime benefits administrator of Laborers International Union of North America Local 147, better known as the "Sandhogs," was indicted by a federal grand jury for embezzling more than $40 million from three benefit funds sponsored by the New York City tunnel-diggers union. She had been arrested on November 30 and charged the following day in Manhattan federal court. Such are the consequences of a ceaseless quest for the high life.

Employee of Cincinnati UNITE HERE Local Sentenced for Theft

UNITE HERE logoOn February 2, Donald Spell, former employee of Local 12 of UNITE HERE, the restaurant and garment employees union, was sentenced in U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Ohio to two years of probation for embezzling funds from the Cincinnati local. He also was ordered to pay full restitution in the amount of $16,422.83 plus a special assessment of $100. He had pleaded guilty last October. The sentencing follows an investigation by the U.S. Labor Department's Office of Labor-Management Standards.

Las Vegas Machinists Secretary-Treasurer Charged with Embezzlement

On February 1, Hugo Vargas, formerly secretary-treasurer of International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers Lodge 845, was charged in U.S. District Court for the District of Nevada with embezzling $106,293.59 from the Las Vegas union. The charge follows a probe by the Labor Department's Office of Labor-Management Standards.

Financial Secretary of South Carolina Steelworkers Local Sentenced

Steelworkers logoChristina Geathers probably hasn't endeared herself to rank and file with United Steelworkers Local 357. That's because much of her income represented stolen dues. Geathers, formerly local financial secretary-treasurer with the Georgetown, South Carolina union, was sentenced on March 8 in U.S. District Court for the District of South Carolina to time served to be followed by three years of supervised release, of which 16 months must be served in home confinement. She also will have to pay restitution.

Texas Building & Construction Trades Council Treasurer Sentenced

On January 28, Danny Tilley, former executive secretary-treasurer of the Texas State Building & Construction Trades Council, was sentenced in federal court to three years probation for embezzling $9,719.11 from the Austin-based AFL-CIO affiliate. He pleaded guilty in April. The sentencing follows a probe by the U.S. Labor Department's Office of Labor-Management Standards.

Financial Secretary of Georgia Steelworkers Local Indicted for Theft

Steelworkers logoOn January 28, Johnny Banes, formerly financial secretary of United Steelworkers Local 2401, was indicted in the Superior Court of Cobb County, Georgia on one count of theft of $38,329 in funds from the Mableton, Ga. union. The indictment follows an investigation by the U.S. Labor Department's Office of Labor-Management Standards.

Montana Painters Local Secretary Pleads Guilty to Embezzlement

PaintersFor almost two and a half years, Tammy Smith used her union as a cash dispensary. She now wishes she hadn't. On February 17, Smith, former secretary of International Union of Painters and Allied Trades Local 1922 in Billings, Montana, pleaded guilty in federal court to embezzling more than $11,000. Smith, 40, a resident of Billings, began working for the local in 2002. According to federal prosecutors from May 2004 until December 2006 Smith diverted dues payments into a personal bank account and wrote union checks to herself or to cash. At her May 19 sentencing, she faces a maximum five years in prison and a $10,000 fine.

New York State Public Employees Union President Charged

John Vinson isn't the only former local official within New York State's mammoth Civil Service Employees Association (CSEA), an AFSCME affiliate, to be in recent trouble for embezzlement. Rank-and-file members no doubt hope he'll be the last. Vinson, president of CSEA Local 659, was arrested by state police on Wednesday, February 17, and charged with embezzling more than $70,000 from the Albany union. He was arraigned in Albany City Court and released on $10,000 bond.

Locomotive Engineers President Rodzwicz Pleads Guilty to Bribery, Related Charge

LocomotiveThe resignation of Edward Rodzwicz last November as president of the Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers and Trainmen (BLET) was almost inevitable. So, it seems, was his guilty plea. On Thursday, March 4, Rodzwicz pleaded guilty in St. Louis federal court to bribery and interstate travel for unlawful activity in relation to solicitations for bribery totaling $20,000. He had been indicted and arrested last fall at his home in Avon, Ohio, a suburb of Cleveland, headquarters of BLET. He faces sentencing on June 3.

Former Los Angeles-Area Cop Pleads Guilty to Embezzlement

As a police officer, Gene Tomatani didn't have to be told that stealing from his union and his employer was illegal. At least now he's acknowledged as much. On February 10, Tomatani, a former officer with Redondo Beach, California police force, pleaded guilty in Los Angeles County Superior Court to embezzlement of more than $75,000, mainly from the local police officers association. Under the reported settlement, he will receive a sentence later this month of 90 days in jail, three years of probation, and one year at meetings of Gamblers Anonymous.

Field Representative for Pennsylvania Laborers Local Charged

Laborers logoOn January 22, Gary Day, former field representative for Laborers International Union of North America Local 1180, was charged in U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Pennsylvania with embezzling $10,827.50 from the Harrisburg local. The charge follows a probe by the Labor Department's Office of Labor-Management Standards.

Treasurer of Atlanta-Area Postal Workers Local Sentenced for Thefts

Post officeOn January 21, Sonia McGuire, former treasurer of American Postal Workers Union Local 3434, was sentenced in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Georgia to five years probation, the first six months of which must be served in home detention, for embezzling funds from the Decatur, Ga. union. She also will have to pay $16,023.12 in restitution and a $100 special assessment. McGuire had pleaded guilty in November to embezzling funds in the same amount. The sentencing follows a probe by the Labor Department's Office of Labor-Management Standards.

Former Treasurer of Cleveland-Area Transit Union Charged with Embezzlement

Transit bus On January 21, Lisa Wright, former treasurer of the Transit Employees Union, was charged in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Ohio with one count of embezzling $71,470.50 from the Bedford (suburban Cleveland) union. The charge follows an investigation by the U.S. Labor Department's Office of Labor-Management Standards.

Ohio Steelworkers Local President Charged with Records Fraud

Steelworkers logoOn January 21, Jacqueline Kiedrowicz, former president of United Steelworkers Local 1200, was charged in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Ohio with one count of making false entries in financial records of the Canton union. The charge follows a probe by the U.S. Labor Department's Office of Labor-Management Standards.

Philadelphia-Area Aerospace Workers President Sentenced in Credit Union Fraud/Kickback Scheme

Running a labor union and a credit union at the same time may be a bad combination. For Anthony Forte it was. Forte, formerly president of United Aerospace Workers Local 1069 and executive vice president of the Boeing Helicopters Credit Union (BHCU), was sentenced on February 22 in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania to 28 months in prison and ordered to pay more than $1.25 million in restitution for organizing a massive loan fraud and kickback scam nearly a decade ago. His ailing younger brother, David, was sentenced to (and since has served) a day in prison and was ordered to pay $178,446 in restitution. Both men had pleaded guilty in November 2009 after being charged in September 2008. Six other defendants ranging in age from 33 to 40 also were prosecuted.

Former Employee of Kentucky Steelworkers Local Sentenced

Steelworkers logoOn January 15, Ray Horton, a former employee of United Steelworkers Local 9443 in Robards, Ky., was sentenced in U.S. District Court for the Western District of Kentucky to three years probation, including four months of community confinement, for embezzlement and mail fraud from the union. He also will have to pay $43,816.29 in restitution and $200 in court costs. He had pleaded guilty in October to stealing nearly $20,000 in local funds. The sentencing follows a probe by the U.S. Labor Department's Office of Labor-Management Standards.

Michigan Independent Workers Local Treasurer Indicted for Embezzlement

Michigan On January 6, David Miller, former treasurer of Independent Workers Union Local 373, was indicted in U.S. District Court for the Western District of Michigan on one count of embezzling funds from the Litchfield union in the amount of $50,501.99. The indictment follows an investigation by the U.S. Labor Department's Office of Labor-Management Standards.

Former Officials of Security Guards Local in Mississippi Plead Guilty

On January 12, Ron Quinn and Rebecca James, respectively, the former president and secretary-treasurer of International Guards Union of America Local 123 in Port Gibson, Miss., pleaded guilty to embezzling union funds in the amount of $11,147.30. The pair had been charged in July with conspiracy and embezzlement during the period January-August 2008. The guilty pleas follow a probe by the Labor Department's Office of Labor-Management Standards.

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