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.

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.

Ex-Office Manager of Nevada Teamsters Local Sentenced for Embezzlement

On January 8, Monica Peaslee, former office manager of International Brotherhood of Teamsters Local 533, was sentenced in U.S. District Court for the District of Nevada to four years probation for embezzling funds from the Reno union. She also was ordered to pay $12,479.99 in restitution. Peaslee pled guilty in October to embezzling $13,156 and falsifying union records. The sentencing follows an investigation by the U.S. Labor Department's Office of Labor-Management Standards.

Former Business Manager of Detroit Teachers Local Charged

Sherri Patrick isn't the communicative type. She'll likely become one, however, not long from now. Patrick's former employer, the Detroit Federation of Teachers (DFT), an affiliate of the American Federation of Teachers, on February 8 filed a criminal complaint with the Detroit Police Department alleging that she'd embezzled $75,000 in union funds. Patrick had served as the union's business manager until last spring and as a member of the Highland Park School Board until late January, citing "personal issues."

Former NYC Operating Engineers Business Agent Sentenced in Construction Scam

Until seven years ago, Locals 14 and 15 of the International Union of Operating Engineers (IUOE) had been virtually synonymous with organized crime. Union bosses, working in tandem with the Genovese and Colombo crime families, diverted millions of dollars in labor payments associated with major New York City-area construction projects into their own pockets. Now another participant in that racket has had a date with justice. On January 29, Joseph "Joey" Coriasco, a former IUOE Local 14 business agent, was sentenced to three years probation in Brooklyn federal court for his role in facilitating unlawful labor payments and mail fraud.

St. Louis Communications Workers Local Treasurer Charged with Theft; Pleads Guilty

Communications Workers on strikeSherell Mitchell was the gambling type. She now wishes she wasn't. On January 5, Mitchell, formerly secretary-treasurer for Local 86823 of Communications Workers of America, was charged in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Missouri with one count of embezzling in excess of $110,000 from the St. Louis union. She then pleaded guilty. Prosecutors alleged that Mitchell, 45, a resident of St. Louis County, over a more than seven-year period made out local checks to herself and made cash withdrawals from the account. She lost much of the money at a local casino. The actions follow an investigation by the U.S. Labor Department's Office of Labor-Management Standards.

Connecticut Firefighters Ex-Local President Agrees to Repay Embezzled Funds

FirefightersSettling out of court might not be the most lucrative approach to getting back stolen funds, but in the long run it may be the best. Officials of Local 2533 of the International Association of Fire Fighters are hoping so. Early this month, the Branford (near New Haven), Connecticut union and State Attorney General Richard Blumenthal announced they had reached an agreement with former local president Michael Manemeit to recover around $38,000 in funds Manemeit had stolen years earlier. "We're happy to have some closure on the case," said Randall Chittenden, a former union president and currently a local trustee.

Southern California Electrical Workers Local Treasurer Indicted

Electrical Workers logoJames Miles has plenty of reasons to fear a trial - more than 350 of them, in fact. Miles, formerly treasurer of International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local 1023, pleaded not guilty in Riverside, Calif. federal court on February 3 to charges related to his theft of more than $93,000 from the Barstow union over four and a half years. A grand jury on January 13 had indicted him on one count of embezzlement, nine counts of mail fraud and two counts of filing false financial statements with the U.S. Department of Labor. He also allegedly filed false federal and state tax returns on behalf of himself and the union. A pretrial hearing is set for March 22.

Secretary-Treasurer of Buffalo-Area Transit Local Pleads Guilty

Transit busHandling union funds had its perks for Thomas Pokrywczynski.  And those perks weren't necessarily legal.  Pokrywczynski, formerly secretary-treasurer of Amalgamated Transit Union Local 1342 and treasurer of the ATU's New York State Legislative Conference Board, pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court for the Western District of New York on February 16 to theft of about $254,000 in funds from the West Seneca, N.Y.-based union. He had been indicted back in August for embezzling $277,548.72.

Teachers Local in Illinois Files Complaint Against School Board

A public school teachers union in north central Ilinois is taking legal action against its local school board in a case created by a former board employee who may have been corrupt as well as deficient. Last week, the Woodland Education Association filed an unfair labor practices complaint with the Illinois Education Labor Relations Board alleging the board lacks the authority to demand all at once the more than $200,000 in overpayments over four years to active and retired teachers. The union has expressed its willingness to repay all the money, but not until certain details have been resolved. 

Secretary-Treasurer of NE Ohio Graphic Workers Local Indicted for Embezzlement

For three years Jeffrey Kenney used his union local as a private bank. Those days are now over. On February 2, a Cleveland federal grand jury announced it had indicted Kenney, formerly secretary-treasurer of Graphic Communications International Union Local 205-C in Youngstown, on charges of embezzling $14,388. The indictment also charges that Kenney filed a false financial report for 2004 with the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) on which he knowingly understated the sum of disbursements by nearly $6,000.

Louisiana Postal Workers Treasurer Pleads Guilty to Embezzlement

Postal Workers logoOn December 17, David Matthis, former secretary-treasurer of American Postal Workers Union Local 205 in Alexandria, La., pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court for the Western District of Louisiana to embezzling $5,472.61 from the union. He had been charged with one information count in November. The guilty plea follows a probe by the Labor Department's Office of Labor-Department Standards.

Former Treasurer of Detroit-Area AFSCME Local Charged

AFSCME logoOn December 16, Brenda Bywater, former treasurer of American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees Local 100, was charged in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan with an information count of making false entries in financial records of the Pontiac union. The charge follows a probe by the Labor Department's Office of Labor-Management Standards.

Chicago Nurses Treasurer Sentenced for Records Fraud

NursesOn December 16, Joyce Marsalis, former treasurer of the Illinois Nurses Association, University of Chicago Local, was sentenced in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois to three years probation and 100 hours of community service, and ordered to pay the remaining $2,356 restitution balance and a special assessment of $25. Marsalis had been indicted in April for embezzling $12,717 from the union and falsifying its financial records; she pled guilty in October. The actions follow an investigation by the U.S. Labor Department's Office of Labor-Management Standards.

Dallas Transit Workers President Pleads Guilty to Check Forgery

Transit busOn December 11, Bobby Earl Williams, former president of Amalgamated Transit Union Local 1635, pleaded guilty in Dallas County, Texas Criminal District Court to check forgery from the Dallas-based union. He then was sentenced to 12 months deferred probation, and ordered to pay $75 in restitution, a $1,000 fine, $194 in court costs and a $175 donation to a nonprofit group in lieu of community service. In September, his wife, Janice Muriel Williams, pleaded guilty to the same offense. Both actions follow a probe by the U.S. Labor Department's Office of Labor-Management Standards.

Ex-Treasurer of Arizona Security, Police and Firefighters Local Sentenced

On December 7, Roger Wuest, formerly secretary-treasurer of the Phoenix affiliate of the Security, Police and Fire Professionals of America (SPFPA), was sentenced to one year of probation for willful concealment or destruction of union financial records. He had pleaded guilty in September. The actions follow an investigation by the Labor Department's Office of Labor-Management Standards.

Senate Confirms Patricia Smith as Labor Department Solicitor

U.S. Department of LaborIf the nomination of pro-union radical Craig Becker for the National Labor Relations Board couldn't survive congressional scrutiny, Obama administration officials are taking heart that another nominee for a major labor policymaking post has passed muster. On Thursday, February 4, the Senate voted 60 to 37 to approve M. Patricia Smith, labor commissioner for the State of New York, as the new solicitor for the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL), the department's chief law interpreter-enforcer and third-ranking official. The vote occurred after several months of delay and three days after a 60-32 cloture vote. Certain Republican lawmakers had expressed concerns that she had made deceptive statements back during her May 7 confirmation hearing before the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions.

Kentucky Machinists Financial Secretary Charged with Theft, Sentenced

Machinists logoOn December 7, Mark Owens, formerly financial secretary of International Association of Machinists Local Lodge 366W, was charged in the Circuit Court of Marion County, Kentucky with theft of $200 from the Lebanon, Ky. union. He then pleaded guilty to the charge and was sentenced to 60 days of probation on the condition that he make restitution of $200 and pay $153 in fines and court costs. The action follows an investigation by the Labor Department's Office of Labor-Management Standards.

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