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.

Bookkeeper for Public School Employees Union in Vermont Pleads Guilty, Sentenced

Amy Cousino was a union employee for only a year. But during that time, she racked up an impressive track record of embezzlement. Cousino, a former bookkeeper for Addison Northeast Supervisory Union (ANESU), pleaded guilty on Monday, April 12 in Vermont District Court in Middlebury to one count of felony embezzlement and one count of misdemeanor petty larceny. She had been charged last June. Cousino received a sentence (suspended) of 30 days to six months, plus five years probation, and was ordered to pay $41,746.91 in restitution, $10,000 of which she paid at sentencing.

Rhode Island Police Union Treasurer Arrested for Embezzlement

Police employees typically help arrest thieves, not become them. For more than five years Douglas Rogers did both. Rogers, a clerk-dispatcher for the North Kingstown, R.I. police department and a former office employee of International Brotherhood of Police Officers Local 473, was arrested on April 13 for embezzling more than $150,000 from the union. Rhode Island State Police arrested him at his home and arraigned him at nearby police barracks. He was released on a promise to pay $10,000 in lieu of appearing in court.

Longshoremen Bookkeeper in Los Angeles Sentenced for Thefts

For Rosa Della Porta, the new BMW and other accessories in the end weren't worth it. Della Porta, formerly office manager-bookkeeper for International Longshore and Warehouse Union (ILWU) Local 26, was sentenced on March 29 in Los Angeles federal court to 21 months in prison for embezzling well over $100,000 in union funds. She had been convicted by trial jury a year ago following the discovery of a pattern of thefts by local officials and a subsequent federal investigation. Della Porta, who was fired by her union in November 2006, also will have to pay $121,475 in restitution.

Seattle-Area Hospital Workers Local President Pleads Guilty to Thefts

AFGE logoAbout the only thing Sid Mannetti can hope for now is leniency. Mannetti, formerly president of American Federation of Government Employees Local 1170, pleaded guilty in Seattle federal court on Thursday, April 8 to embezzling more than $50,000 from his union, which represents about 140 employees at Pacific Medical Centers in the Seattle area. During 2006-08 he diverted funds from the union's credit card and bank account to pay for personal expenses. He had been charged in January. The guilty plea follows an investigation by the U.S. Labor Department's Office of Labor-Management Standards.

Communications Workers Secretary in St. Louis Sentenced for Embezzlement

Communications workersGambling losses have contributed to the downfall of dozens of union officials and employees over the past several years. Sherell Mitchell, formerly secretary-treasurer of Local 86823 of the Communications Workers America, has joined their ranks. On April 8 Mitchell was sentenced in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Missouri to six months of house arrest, five years of probation and 200 hours of community service for embezzling more than $110,000 from the St. Louis union. She pleaded guilty when charged more than three months ago. As part of her plea agreement, she paid a lump sum of about $50,000 toward restitution.

Oregon Carpenters Local Office Manager Indicted for Thefts

Carpenters union convention Embezzlement, or at least its detection, is catching lately in Oregon's labor organizations. Toni Lancaster is yet another casualty. The ex-office manager for United Brotherhood of Carpenters and Joiners Local 711 in Portland, was indicted in U.S. District Court for the District of Oregon for embezzling some $68,000 from her union. Federal prosecutors charge that Lancaster, 40, a resident of the Portland-area community of Milwaukie, wrote unauthorized union checks to herself and falsified financial records to conceal the thefts. She pleaded not guilty and faces trial on June 1. The indictment follows a probe by the U.S. Labor Department's Office of Labor-Management Standards.

Carpenters Financial Secretary in Oregon Charged with Embezzlement

Carpenters union convention Charles Owens stole from his union for four years. He's now hoping his sentence won't last as long. Owens, former financial secretary of United Brotherhood of Carpenters and Joiners Local 2791, was indicted on March 30 in U.S. District Court for the District of Oregon for embezzling at least $65,000 from the Albany, Ore.-based union. Prosecutors allege that Owens, 61, a resident of Eugene, during 2004-08 made unauthorized cash withdrawals on a local account. As with Michele Pedersen, he pleaded not guilty and faces a trial scheduled for June 1. The indictment follows an investigation by the U.S. Labor Department's Office of Labor-Management Standards.

AFSCME Local Treasurer in Oregon Indicted for Embezzlement

AFSCME logoOn March 30, Michele Pedersen, formerly treasurer of American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees Local 2746, was indicted in U.S. District Court for the District of Oregon for embezzling about $8,500 from the Astoria-based union. During 2002-07, charge federal prosecutors, Pedersen, 41, a resident of Keizer (near Salem), wrote herself unauthorized union checks and altered union financial records to conceal the thefts. She was released after pleading not guilty. Trial is set for June 1. The indictment follows a probe by the U.S. Labor Department's Office of Labor-Management Office.

Northern California Glass Workers Secretary-Treasurer Indicted for Embezzlement

Glass Workers logo (GMP)Curtis Iwatsubo confused his union debit card with a personal one. Now he's getting a belated lesson about the difference. On March 24, Iwatsubo, formerly financial secretary-treasurer of Glass, Molders, Pottery, Plastics and Allied Workers International Union Local 52, was indicted in San Jose federal court for embezzling more than $47,000 from the union, which represents employees at Owens-Corning's Santa Clara plant. He's also charged with making false entries in the union check registry to conceal his thefts and making false statements to federal investigators.

Pennsylvania Postal Workers Local President Indicted

Postal Workers logoAt least Barbara Patton's misuse of funds was modest by the standards of many union officials. On March 16, federal prosecutors announced in U.S. District Court for the Western District of Pennsylvania that Patton, formerly vice president and then president of Local 4469 of the American Postal Workers Union, has been indicted by a federal grand jury that she used her union credit card to cover unauthorized personal expenses. Patton, 57, a resident of Somerset, Pa., during June 1, 2007-November 30, 2008 allegedly embezzled $2,015.78. The indictment follows an investigation by the U.S. Labor Department's Office of Labor-Management Standards.

Ex-Board Members of NYC Corrections Officers Union Charged with Insurance Fraud

It might qualify as dark comedy. To prosecutors and union officials, it qualifies as theft. Allen Blake and Chandra LaSonde, each a former board member of the local Corrections Officers' Benevolent Association (COBA), were charged on Wednesday in Manhattan federal court with mail fraud. Prosecutors allege Blake, with LaSonde's help, filed and eventually collected a false life insurance claim on behalf of Blake's wife, Pearl, whom he'd recently divorced and who died not long after. Blake and LaSonde, each a guard at New York City's Rikers Island jail complex, were forced out of the union in December by union President Norman Seabrook.

Colombo Mobsters Charged with Extortion, Theft of Teamster Benefits

Colombo crime boss Thomas GioeliNew York City's Colombo crime family still has what it takes to generate income. Unfortunately for them, federal officials haven't forgotten. On Tuesday morning, March 9, prosecutors inside Brooklyn federal court announced the results of an unsealed indictment against eight persons who are suspected Colombo members or associates. The eight-count indictment alleges the defendants variously engaged in racketeering, wire fraud, extortion and embezzlement. All had been arrested earlier that day following a lengthy joint probe by the FBI and the U.S. Department of Labor.

President of Minnesota Postal Workers Local Pleads Guilty

It's easy to feel sympathy for Steven James McDeid. But that doesn't make his thefts excusable. McDeid, the former longtime president of Branch 388 of the National Association of Letter Carriers, pleaded guilty on March 24 in U.S. District Court for the District of Minnesota to embezzling $51,639.61 over nearly five years from the St. Cloud union. Charged on March 5, he remains free on bond pending sentencing.

Michigan Independent Union Treasurer Pleads Guilty to Theft

MichiganOn March 8, David Miller, formerly treasurer of Litchfield (Mich.) Independent Workers Union Local 373, pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court for the Western District of Michigan to embezzlement of funds in the amount of $50,501.99 from the union. He had been indicted in January. The guilty plea follows an investigation by the Labor Department's Office of Labor-Management Standards.

Transportation Workers Treasurer in Indiana Pleads Guilty to Embezzlement

City busOn February 25, Richard Schwab, former financial secretary-treasurer for United Transportation Union Local 298, pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Indiana to embezzling $46,472 from the Fort Wayne-based union. The guilty plea follows an investigation by the Labor Department's Office of Labor-Management Standards.

Steelworkers Local President in Detroit Charged

On March 4, Jerrold King, former president of United Steelworkers Local 842 in Detroit, was charged in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan with one count of records concealment. The charge follows a probe by the U.S. Labor Department's Office of Labor-Management Standards.

Detroit-Area AFSCME Treasurer Pleads Guilty to Records Fraud

AFSCME logoOn March 2, Brenda Bywater, former treasurer of Local 100 of the American Federation of State, County, Municipal Employees, pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan to one count of making false entries in the financial records of the Pontiac union. She had been charged in December. The guilty plea follows an investigation by the Labor Department's Office of Labor-Management Standards.

Security Officers Treasurer in Minnesota Pleads Guilty to Theft

On February 19, Michelle Lyn Adler, former treasurer of United Government Security Officers of America Local 24, pleaded guilty in Goodhue County (Minnesota) District Court to theft of between $1,000 and $5,000. She then was sentenced to two years probation and ordered to pay $1,700 in restitution, a $200 fine and an $83 surcharge. The guilty plea and sentencing follow a probe by the Labor Department's Office of Labor-Management Standards.

Indiana Communications Workers Local Treasurer Sentenced

It's a familiar syndrome: Union official with gambling problem dips into the till to cover losses. Karen Snelling, formerly treasurer of the Gary Newspaper Guild, is yet another case. Snelling was sentenced on Thursday, March 18 in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Indiana to three years probation plus six months of home detention for theft of $18,100 in union funds. She had been indicted in September and pleaded guilty in December to embezzlement from the union, also known as Communications Workers of America Local 34014.

Officer of ACORN-Controlled SEIU Local in Chicago Charged

Service Employees logoOn February 17, Pamela Williams, former travel/procurement coordinator for Service Employees International Union Local 880, was charged in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois with one count of embezzling $6,080. The amount allegedly taken was modest, but the case has national significance. The Chicago-based SEIU Local 880, now known as SEIU Healthcare Illinois and Indiana, was founded some 30 years ago as a subsidiary of the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now, or ACORN, the scandal-plagued nationwide nonprofit network set to go out of existence on April 1. Pamela Williams may be little more than a small-time thief, but she's given critics of the leadership of ACORN, and the SEIU, another reason to believe that organized labor and street radicals shouldn't mix.

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