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.

Upstate New York Steelworkers Treasurer Sentenced for Embezzlement

Steelworkers logoOn October 30, Norman Stefanik, former treasurer of United Steelworkers Local 1450, was sentenced in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of New York to a year and a day in prison for embezzling $46,013 from the Watertown union, which represents employees of Knowlton Technologies. The original reported sum was $25,808.29. He pled guilty in May. The sentencing follows an investigation by the Labor Department's Office of Labor-Management Standards.

Ex-Treasurer of Government Employees Local in Texas Indicted for Theft

AFGE logoOn October 29, Rudy Villa Jr., former treasurer of American Federation of Government Employees Local 2771 in Plainview, was indicted in the County Court of Hale County, Texas, on felony theft charges. The indictment follows an investigation by the Labor Department's Office of Labor-Management Standards.

Hotel and Restaurant Workers Ohio Local Office Employee Pleads Guilty

UNITE HERE logoOn October 29, Donald Spell, former office employee for Hotel Employees and Restaurant Employees (HERE) Local 12, pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Ohio to embezzling $16,422 from the Cincinnati local. He had been charged in October. The guilty plea follows a probe by the U.S. Labor Department's Office of Labor-Management Standards.

Electrical Workers Secretary-Treasurer in Michigan Pleads Guilty to Theft

IBEW logoOn October 28, Carolyn Williams, former secretary-treasurer of International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local 352 in Lansing, pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court for the Western District of Michigan to embezzling $9,554.14 in union funds. She had been indicted in September. The guilty plea follows a probe by the Labor Department's Office of Labor-Management Standards.

Michigan Communications Workers Local President Sentenced

Communications workers demonstrationOn October 26, Belinda K. Woods, former president of Communications Workers of America Local 84-415, was sentenced in U.S. District Court for the Western District of Michigan to six months in prison and one year of supervised release for embezzling $10,988.86 in funds from the Grand Rapids union. She also will have to pay $9,991.86 in outstanding restitution within 30 days of judgment and a $125 special assessment. She had pleaded guilty in June. The sentencing follows an investigation by the Labor Department's Office of Labor-Management Standards.

Southern California Ex-Cop Charged with Theft from Union

Police officers are supposed to be arresting thieves, not behaving like them. Gene Tomatani appears to have not gotten that memo. On December 9, Sgt. Tomatani, the former president of the Redondo Beach Police Officers Association, was charged in Los Angeles County Superior Court with embezzling more than $70,000 from his union and another $3,000 from the municipality. He resigned from the local police force this October pending administrative hearings, after having stepped down from his union post in November 2008. Released on his own recognizance, he's set for arraignment on January 8.

Rodzwicz Resigns as Locomotive Engineers President; Union Names Interim Leadership

Locomotive trainThe reign of Edward Rodzwicz was brief. And members of the Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers and Trainmen (BLET) might be feeling a certain relief. On November 13, Rodzwicz resigned as president of the Cleveland-based, Teamsters-affiliated union, one month after his arrest by federal agents on a pair of bribery charges. He is scheduled to stand trial in St. Louis starting January 4. This makes the second BLET president to step down in as many years. The union in the meantime has named an interim replacement.

Steelworkers Financial Secretary in Kansas Sentenced for Theft

Steelworkers logoOn October 22, Darryl Becker, former financial secretary for United Steelworkers Local 558-11, was sentenced in U.S. District Court for the District of Kansas to one year of probation and fined $500 for theft of funds from the McPherson union. Becker, a resident of McPherson, was indicted in May and since then has made restitution in the amount of $6,500. The sentencing follows an investigation by the U.S. Labor Department's Office of Labor-Management Standards.

Claims Examiner for New Jersey Operating Engineers Local Charged in Hoax

Cash in envelopeCrime hoaxes are a fact of American life - think only of the Tawana Brawley "rape" case that ripped the nation apart more than 20 years ago. A prominent northern New Jersey labor union no stranger to brushes with the law is now the object of attention of a hoax of a less dramatic sort. Deborah Moshier, a claims examiner for International Union of Operating Engineers Local 825, was arrested and charged in Newark federal court on December 11 with various offenses related to an allegedly fraudulent scheme to obtain money from a union benefit fund. If convicted, she faces up to five years in prison.

Financial Secretary of Canadian Auto Workers Local Pleads Guilty, Sentenced

David St. Denis had a photographic memory. And in the end, that helped prove his undoing. On Tuesday, December 1, St. Denis, the former financial secretary of Canadian Auto Workers Local 1959, pleaded guilty to embezzling nearly $13,000 from the Windsor-based affiliate of the United Auto Workers, and was sentenced to one year of probation immediately afterward. St. Denis, 49, had been accused of forging the signature of the local vice-president on union checks and depositing the checks to a personal account. The union represents workers for Canadian Salt Company.

Minnesota School Employees Local Conducts Internal Probe

Minnesota signThe executive board of the Bemidji School Employees Association has a problem on its hands: missing money. And its members, with some help from its state parent organization, are looking into how that happened. The Beltrami County, Minnesota Attorney's Office recently announced that the BSEA is conducting a probe into the high likelihood that an unnamed member has embezzled association funds. The association, a local affiliate of the Minnesota School Employees Association (MSEA), represents non-teaching school personnel such as custodians, bus drivers and secretaries.

The local board believes that one of its members or office employees who had access to the BSEA dues checking account diverted some of that money to cover personal expenses. "We are handling the situation internally," said MSEA Executive Director Christina Clark in a telephone interview from St. Paul.

Iowa Boilermakers Local Treasurer Sentenced for Thefts

Holding a winning lottery ticket wasn't enough to persuade Thomas Jon Witham to pay back at least part of what he'd stolen over a half-dozen years. His ticket now will be some time behind bars. Witham, formerly secretary-treasurer for International Brotherhood of Boilermakers Local 106-D, was sentenced on December 8 in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Iowa to 21 months in prison plus three years of supervised release for embezzling more than $50,000 from the Mason City union. He'll also have to make full restitution. Indicted in July, he pleaded guilty in early September.

Benefits Administrator for NYC 'Sandhogs' Laborers Local Charged with $42 Million Ripoff

Sandhogs at workOne would think a union office administrator who makes more than $500,000 a year wouldn't have to resort to stealing. But Melissa King isn't a typical employee. King, until recently the longtime benefits administrator for Local 147 of the Laborers International Union of North America (LIUNA) in New York, was charged on December 1 in Manhattan federal court with arguably the largest embezzlement scheme in the history of American labor. Prosecutors are saying that for at least six years she stole a staggering $42 million from three union benefit funds, diverting the money to bank accounts that she controlled. Her lawyers claim she is innocent. Now out on $10 million bail, she's going to have a tough time convincing a jury of that.

Wisconsin Armored Car Employees Secretary-Treasurer Charged

On October 22, Timmy Peltier, former secretary-treasurer of Independent Loomis Security Employees Union, was charged in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Wisconsin with making a false statement or representation of a material fact on the Cudahy-based union's 2006 and 2007 annual financial reports. The charge follows an investigation by the Labor Department's Office of Labor-Management Standards.

Former Treasurer of New Hampshire Painters Local Sentenced for Embezzlement

PaintersOn October 19, Brian Wheeler, former treasurer of International Union of Painters and Allied Trades (IUPAT) Local 1468, was sentenced in U.S. District Court for the District of Maine to five years probation for one count of embezzling funds from the Brentwood, New Hampshire union. He also was ordered to pay $5,000 in restitution, a $5,000 fine and a $100 special assessment. He pleaded guilty in July. The sentencing follows an investigation by the U.S. Labor Department's Office of Labor-Management Standards.

Alabama Transportation Union Secretary-Treasurer Sentenced

High-speed railOn October 15, Christopher Scott Tidwell, former secretary-treasurer of United Transportation Union Local 1261, was sentenced in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Alabama to five years probation, including six months home confinement, for embezzling $22,264.08 from the Lineville union. He also was ordered to pay full restitution and a $100 special assessment. Tidwell had pleaded guilty in June. The sentencing follows a probe by the Labor Department's Office of Labor-Management Standards.

West Virginia Carpenters Official Sentenced for Fraudulent Record-Keeping

Bush addresses Carpenters unionOn October 19, Harold Ullum, former vice president and West Virginia District Manager of the Parkersburg-based Mid-Atlantic Regional Council of United Brotherhood of Carpenters and Joiners, was sentenced in U.S. District Court for the Southern District of West Virginia to six months home detention and five years probation for making a false statement on an Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA) form. Ullum, who pleaded guilty in July, also was ordered to pay a $20,000 fine plus a $100 special assessment. The sentencing follows an investigation by the Labor Department's Office of Labor-Management Standards.

Nurses Association Treasurer in Chicago Pleads Guilty to Records Fraud

NursesOn October 9, Joyce Marsalis, former treasurer of the University of Chicago unit of the Illinois Nurses Association, pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois to one count of willfully making a false entry in union financial records. The guilty plea follows an investigation by the Labor Department's Office of Labor-Management Standards.

PACE-Steelworkers President in Kentucky Sentenced for Embezzlement

Steelworkers logoOn October 8, Daniel Reynolds, ex-president of Local 05-1737 of the labor organization formerly known as the Paper, Allied-Industrial, Chemical and Energy Workers International Union (PACE), was sentenced in U.S. District Court for the Western District of Kentucky to two years of probation for embezzling funds from the Louisville union and another two years of destroying union records. He also was ordered to pay $13,130 in restitution and a $125 fine. PACE merged with the United Steelworkers in 2005. The sentencing follows an investigation by the U.S. Labor Department's Office of Labor-Management Standards.

Nevada Teamsters Office Manager Pleads Guilty to Embezzlement

On October 7, Monica Peaslee, former office manager of International Brotherhood of Teamsters Local 533, pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court for the District of Nevada to one count of embezzling $13,156 in funds from the Reno union. She had been indicted in July for embezzlement and falsifying records. The guilty plea follows an investigation by the Labor Department's Office of Labor-Management Standards.

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