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.

Las Vegas Operating Engineers Clerk Pleads Guilty to Embezzlement

Operating engineersOn May 27, Cheryl Staley, former dues clerk of International Union of Operating Engineers Local 501, pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court for the District of Nevada to embezzling funds from the union in the amount of $231,653.89 and falsifying records. The union is based in Los Angeles, but maintains an office in Las Vegas where Staley had worked. The guilty plea follows an investigation by the U.S. Labor Department's Office of Labor-Management Standards.

Steelworkers Financial Secretary in Ohio Indicted for Theft

Steelworkers logoOn June 3, Stephanie Marhefka, former financial secretary of United Steelworkers Local 905, was indicted in the Ashtabula County, Ohio Court of Common Pleas on one charge of theft in an amount of slightly over $1,500 and one charge of tampering with evidence. The charges follow a probe by the U.S. Labor Department's Office of Labor-Management Standards.

Pittsburgh Electrical Workers Treasurer Pleads Guilty to Theft

IBEW logoOn June 1, Thomas Carrola, former secretary-treasurer of Local 1919 of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court for the Western District of Pennsylvania to one count of embezzling $35,057.70 in funds from the Pittsburgh-based union. He had been indicted in July 2009. The guilty plea follows a probe by the Labor Department's Office of Labor-Management Standards.

Ohio Communications Workers Local President Charged

On May 26, Gilbert Woods, former president of Communications Workers of America Local 84-768, was charged in U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Ohio with making false entries in the records of the Kettering (near Dayton) union. The charge follows an investigation by the Labor Department's Office of Labor-Management Standards.

NYC Sandhogs Embezzler Faces Sky-High Legal Bills

SandhogsMelissa King is learning about the high cost of services. And this time, she's paying rather than collecting. Ms. King, former benefits administrator for New York's Laborers International Union of North America Local 147, was indicted by a Manhattan federal grand jury this past February for fleecing union benefit plans to the tune of more than $40 million to feed an insatiable appetite for material things. It is one of the largest embezzlement cases in American labor history, if not the largest. Recently, she complained about the distinct possibility that mounting a legal defense could cost at least $5 million. Very few, if any, observers are working up much sympathy for the defendant.

Boston-Area Fireman Charged; Alleges Threat by Union President

FirefightersKevin Howard has been on sick leave for the last several months, but he may wind up on permanent leave. On August 11, a U.S. District Court in Lynn, Massachusetts, determined that there is probable cause to issue a criminal complaint against Howard, a veteran firefighter and acting fire chief for the nearby community of Nahant, for multiple acts of embezzlement. The action was in response to a similar complaint filed earlier in the month by his union, International Association of Fire Fighters (IAFF) Local 2718. In a separate action, Howard last month obtained a restraining order against a fellow firefighter whom he alleged had threatened to shoot him.

Why Are Media Ignoring Trumka's Background?

Barack Obama and Richard TrumkaBarack Obama, like any Democratic president, has serious IOUs to labor unions. And AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka, more than any other labor leader, is one ally he can't afford to alienate. About the last thing Obama wants, especially as his party faces heavy losses in congressional elections this November, is the subject of Trumka's lengthy track record of aggression and corruption to come up. Major media, for the most part, have obliged him in the wake of the round of speeches yesterday at the Milwaukee Area Labor Council Laborfest, making little or mention of inconvenient facts. It isn't as if Obama or top members of his administration are complaining.

Pennsylvania Newspaper Guild Treasurer Pleads Guilty

On August 5, Antonio Jordan, formerly treasurer for the Erie Newspaper Guild, also known as Communications Workers of America 38187, pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court for the Western District of Pennsylvania to embezzling $8,767.40 from the union. Jordan, now 38, during March 2005-February 2009 allegedly had used his union credit card for personal expenditures. He was indicted this past May. Sentencing is scheduled for November 22.

Minnesota Regional Official of Rail Union Pleads Guilty

Locomotive trainCleveland headquarters isn't the only place at the Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers and Trainmen (BLET) where corruption seems to have occurred. On July 27, Cory Carroll, formerly secretary-treasurer of the union's Regional and Shortline General Committee of Adjustment, pleaded guilty in St. Paul federal court to embezzling $35,000 in BLET funds. He had been indicted in April. According to prosecutors, Carroll, now 39, a resident of Albert Lea, Minn., during February 2007-March 2009 illegally charged personal expenses to his union credit card and claimed lost wages for days in which he was not absent. He faces a maximum penalty of five years in prison. The guilty plea follows an investigation by the U.S. Labor Department's Office of Labor-Management Standards.

New York Contractor Close to Mob, Carpenters Set for Trial

Carpenters at workReaders of Union Corruption Update know that the New York City District Council of Carpenters and member locals have been plagued by corruption - and prosecutions. So far at least nine defendants have copped a plea following a lengthy federal probe. Ousted District boss Michael Forde pleaded guilty late in July to racketeering and faces an 11-year sentence. A former Carpenters Local 608 steward, Michael Brennan, pleaded guilty to bribery-related charges that month, as did an ex-president of that local, John Greaney. Less known perhaps is that these and other Carpenters officials allegedly lined their pockets with key help from developer Joseph Olivieri. When Olivieri goes on trial in October for conspiracy, bribery and perjury, he's sure to face tough questions about his reported go-between role for the union and the Genovese crime family.

Laborers Field Rep in Pennsylvania Sentenced for Thefts

Laborers logoOn May 10, Gary Day, former field representative of Laborers International Union of North America Local 1180, was sentenced in U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Pennsylvania to three years probation for embezzling funds from the Harrisburg union. He also was ordered to pay $10,518 in restitution and a $100 special assessment. Day pled guilty in January. The guilty plea and sentencing follow a probe by the U.S. Labor Department's Office of Labor-Management Standards.

Northern California Glass Workers Treasurer Pleads Guilty to Theft

Glass Workers logoOn May 10, Curtis Iwatsubo, former financial secretary-treasurer of Glass, Molders, Pottery, Plastics and Allied Workers International Union Local 52, pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California to one count of embezzling funds from the Santa Clara local in the amount of $48,434.50. He had been charged in March after having made more than 80 unauthorized withdrawals with his union ATM card and subsequently concealing the thefts on union financial statements. The guilty plea follows an investigation by the U.S. Labor Department's Office of Labor-Management Standards.

Laborers Treasurer in Ohio Charged with Embezzlement

Laborers logoOn May 20, Crystal Lynn Croston, former office secretary for Local 1015 of the Laborers International Union of North America, was charged in the Municipal Court of Stark County, Ohio with theft in the amount of $1,344.08 from the Canton local. The charge follows an investigation by the U.S. Labor Department's Office of Labor-Management Standards.

Upstate New York Sheet Metal Workers Treasurer Pleads Guilty

On May 20, Joseph Kerwan, business manager/treasurer of Sheet Metal Workers Local 112, pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court for the Western District of New York to falsifying records of the Elmira-based union. He also will have to make restitution in the amount of $6,927.55. The guilty plea follows an investigation by the U.S. Labor Department's Office of Labor-Management Standards.

Treasurer of Ohio Transit Union Sentenced for Embezzlement

Transit busOn May 19, Lisa Wright, former treasurer of the Transit Employees Union, was sentenced in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Ohio to three years probation for embezzling $71,470.50 in funds from the Bedford (suburban Cleveland) union. She also will have to make full restitution. Wright pleaded guilty in February. The sentencing and guilty plea follow an investigation by the Labor Department's Office of Labor-Management Standards.

Northern Virginia Federal Employees Ex-Local President Charged

On May 18, Richard James, former president of American Federation of Government Employees Local 1402, was charged in General District Court for Arlington County, Virginia with embezzling $1,550 in union funds. The charge follows a probe by the Labor Department's Office of Labor-Management Standards.

Casey-Pomeroy Bill Would Bail Out PBGC, Union Pensions

bailoutPension Benefit Guaranty Corporation, like Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, is a case of "too big to fail." At least various members of Congress see it that way. And they are planning a push for legislation designed to shore up underfunded multiemployer private-sector pension funds, but which would put taxpayers on the hook for billions, if not tens of billions, of dollars over the long term. Sen. Bob Casey Jr., D-Pa., and Reps. Earl Pomeroy, D-N.D., and Patrick Tiberi, R-Ohio, the driving forces behind this measure, seek to shift the primary responsibility of keeping pensions adequately funded from unions and unionized employers to the general public. It's another example of the bailout culture in action.

Indiana Teamsters Bookkeeper Pleads Guilty to Embezzlement

TrucksOn May 19, Stacey Spalding, former bookkeeper of International Brotherhood of Teamsters Local 215, pled guilty in U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Indiana to embezzling $29,516 in funds from the Evansville union. She had been charged in March. The guilty plea follows an investigation by the Labor Department's Office of Labor-Management Standards.

Graphic Communications Workers Treasurer in Ohio Pleads Guilty

On May 14, Jeffrey Kenney, former secretary-treasurer of Graphic Communications International Union Local 205-C in Youngstown, pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Ohio to embezzling $10,305.70 in union funds and filing a false financial report. He had been indicted in February for embezzling more than $14,000. The GCIU has been affiliated with the Teamsters since the start of 2005. The guilty plea follows a probe by the Labor Department's Office of Labor-Management Standards.

Wisconsin Local Boilermakers President Sentenced for Theft

On May 12, Warren Demmin, formerly president of Local Lodge 449 of the International Brotherhood of Boilermakers, was sentenced in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Wisconsin to four months in prison, four months electronic monitoring and three years probation for embezzling $169.12 from the Sturgeon Bay union. The actual theft was a good deal higher, as evidenced by his previously having made $14,045.48 in restitution. Demmin, who also must pay a $100 special assessment, pled guilty in February. The actions follow an investigation by the U.S. Labor Department's Office of Labor-Management Standards.

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