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.

More Details Emerge on Va. Hierarchy's Pilfering of Relief Funds

Newly released documents reveal the looting of disaster relief funds in Radford as the tip of an iceberg engulfing the hierarchy of Local 9336 that stretched back six years and nearly swallowed up the union's funds. And while four of the embezzlers have admitted their guilt in fed. court, a fifth official is a fugitive from the law.

The four who pled guilty on July 12 in Roanoke were: Edward Ramsey, President from 1996-2000: William Fricker, Grievance Cmte. Chair from ‘97-2000, when he became President: Joseph Burress, Financial Secy. from ‘98-2000: and Rhonda Creed, Vice-President from ‘97-2000.  The fifth official charged, Elizabeth George, was Fricker's campaign manager in 2000, and was appointed Recording Secy. by Fricker when he won. She also joined the relief fund formed in response to an explosion at the Intermet New River Foundry on March 5, 2000.  George did not appear in court, and is considered a fugitive from justice.

Buffalo Teamsters Hit with NLRB Complaint for Illegal Dues Seizures

Responding to federal labor charges filed by attorneys with the National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation, the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) has issued a complaint to force Teamsters Local 449 to refund dues illegally collected from employees of Laidlaw Transit Services after they were expelled from union membership for voicing opposition to the union.

The case arose when four workers, Alfonso Ditillio, June Reinard, Jill Galluzzo, and Tim Stalker, filed unfair labor practice charges with the NLRB in April 2002.  In October 2001, the employees exercised their right to resign from formal union membership and to pay a reduced fee to cover only the costs of collective bargaining.  However, Teamsters officials illegally refused to accept their resignations and continued charging them full union dues.

In December 2001, Teamsters officials further harassed the workers by expelling them from the union for participating in a decertification election to remove the union from the workplace.  Even after the expulsion, union officials continued to demand that the four workers pay full union dues.

Frmr. Bookkeeper Stole $18K from Detroit-Area Union

On July 15, 2002, in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan, Lori Delaney, former  bookkeeper for Sheet Metal Workers Local 80 in Southfield, pled guilty to embezzling approximately $18,000 in union funds. The charges had been brought on February 6, 2002, following a joint investigation by the Detroit Office of the U.S. Labor Dept. Office of Labor-Mgmt. Standards and the Department of Labor's Office of the Inspector General. [DOL]

Ex-Official Admits $10K Embezzlement in Fresno, Calif.
Jeremias Lopez pled guilty on July 10 to embezzling about $10,800 from Laborers Intl. Union Local 220. She faces a maximum sentence of one year in prison and a $10,000 fine in the U.S. Dist. Ct. in Fresno. Lopez is also barred from employment or service with a union for 13 years.

Ore. Police Union Defends Officer Indicted for Domestic Abuse

Police union officials in Portland, Oregon, have rallied behind an officer indicted on July 25 for felony assault of a former girlfriend and falsification of police records.

According to the unidentified woman's affidavit, Michael Pimentel pulled her car over on June 26, 2001, without legal cause and berated her.  He allegedly showed up at her apartment the next day and refused to leave, slamming her finger in a window. The woman also charged that Pimentel seized her biceps, wrists, shoulder and breast, bruising her biceps. When the woman ran to her bedroom and locked the door, Pimentel forced it open and got into bed with her, acc. to the affidavit.  Later in the day, he tried to block her car with his body to prevent her from driving away and then allegedly followed her in his car until she drove to the precinct where Pimentel is assigned.

The alleged false entry and alteration of a police report is said to have happened between Aug. 11 and Sept. 1 of last year. Aug. 11 is also the date on which, according to the indictment, Pimentel allegedly harassed his girlfriend by subjecting her to offensive physical contact.

WVa. Official Indicted for Embezzlement

On July 2, 2002, in Wayne County (West Virginia) court, Dwight D. Icenhower, former secretary-treasurer of Transportation Communication Workers Lodge 6455, was indicted on one count of embezzling $3,953.44 in union funds. The charges were brought following an investigation by the OLMS Pittsburgh District Office. [DOL]

OH Treasurer Charged w/ Embezzlement of Union Funds, Employee Benefits
On July 5, 2002, in the United States District Court for the Northern District of Ohio, John Mylek II, former treasurer of Plasters & Cement Masons Local 886, was charged in an information with embezzling $7,551.28 in union funds and $675 in employee benefit plan funds. The charges were brought following an investigation by the OLMS Cleveland District Office, the FBI, and the Department of Labor's Office of the Inspector General. [DOL]

Sen. McConnell Cites NLPC in Demanding Corporate and Union Accountability

Pointing, on the floor of the U.S. Senate, to a stack of union corruption reports compiled by NLPC, Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-Ky) argued on July 10 that legislation on corporate accountability should also include unions.

McConnell spoke in support of his amendment to the Public Company Accounting Reform and Investor Protection Act, which would require unions with an annual income over $200,000 to use the same strict standards for their annual financial reports filed with the U.S. Dept. of Labor (DOL) as public corporations, and that they submit their reports to audits by a certified public accountants.

Pointing to the "stack" of NLPC's union corruption reports just for 2002, McConnell recounted 17 of those crimes, then revealed that the DOL's Office of Labor-Management Standards reported an average of 12 indictments and 11 convictions of union fraud per month over the last four years. "We have a choice," McConnell concluded: "We can extend to American workers the same financial protection afforded corporate shareholders [since 1933], or we can extend to unions the ability to continue to pilfer and profit off the workers' money. That is the choice."

Ex-Green Bay Boilermaker Boss Confesses to $61K Embezzlement

Frmr Secy.-Treas. David Dobry pled guilty on July 2 to embezzling $61,510 from Lodge 177 of the Intl. Bhd. of Boilermakers in Green Bay, Wisc. Dobry's plea came in the U.S. Dist. Ct., E.D. Wisc., before Chief Dist. Judge J.P. Stadtmueller (Reagan).  The Secy.-Treasurer of Lodge 177 from 1987-99 was indicted on Feb. 2 for the embezzlement, and for falsifying the union's LM-3 financial disclosure form filed with the U.S. Dept. of Labor.  According to the prosecutor, Asst. U.S. Attny Erica O'Neil, that charge will be dropped at Dobry's sentencing.

Dobry began his embezzlement in 1994 to pay for his heavy alcohol and cocaine usage.  He wrote checks from the union's account to himself, sometimes without a second signature as required, other times using the signature stamp of the frmr Lodge President, Delbert Watzka. [U.S.A.O. E.D. WI, DOL]

Hawaii Businesswoman Pleads Guilty to Embezzling Union Member Benefits

On June 17, Roberta Cabral pled guilty in a Honolulu federal court to defrauding a non-profit organization established to benefit members of HERE Local 5 and the Intl Bhd. of Teamsters.

First, Cabral admitted to not filing tax returns for $50,000 in commissions she received in 1994 for her role in a $10 million investment made by the union non-profit, Unity House, Inc. She laundered the commissions through  a British Virgin Islands corporation she controlled and used for the concealment of her income.

Second, she admitted to participating in a scheme to defraud Unity House with her now deceased co-defendant Roderick Rodriquez.  According to the plea agreement, Cabral and Rodriquez a conspired to "pad" the budget of a one-hour television project funded by Unity House entitled "Heavenly Road", later known as "Blue Hawaii", for which she was to receive a kickback of $150,000. Cabral also pled guilty to two more counts of tax evasion for 1992-93. She was indicted on April 25, 2001, after a joint investigation by the Honolulu office of the U.S. Dept. of Labor's Office of Labor-Mgmt. Standards, the IRS and FBI.

Ex Puerto Rican Adminr. Arraigned for Embezzling Funds from Govt Union

Abdiel Navarro, frmr administrator of the Union General de Trabajadores (UGT), was arrested, arraigned and pled not guilty on July 1 to eight counts of embezzlement and falsifying records. His bond was set at $50,000 in the U.S. Dist. Ct. for Puerto Rico. He was indicted on June 26 after an investigation by the Atlanta office of the U.S. Dept. of Labor's Office of Labor-Mgmt. Standards.

Va. Union Officials Confess to Stealing from Disaster Relief Fund

Four frmr officials of Steelworkers Local 9336 pled guilty on July 12 to stealing more than $17,000 from the union and a disaster relief fund for workers affected by an explosion at a metal foundry that killed three people and left the rest jobless. A fifth defendant did not appear in the U.S. Dist. Court in Roanoke, Va., and was at large.

Of the $22,500 raised after the explosion at Intermet Corp.'s New River Foundry in Radford, the ex-local president, William Fricker, ex-president and vice president Edward Ramsey, ex-financial secy. Joseph Burress, and ex-grievance cmte. chair Rhoda Creed, and Elizabeth George stole more than $10,000. George, also charged with approving $900 in unauthorized payments to her companion, Robert Martin, is still at large.

In addition to the relief fund, all but George also pled guilty to claiming some $10,800 as time spent on union business while collecting paychecks from Intermet for the same time. The frmr officials face up to five years in prison and fines as high as $250,000 for each of the three counts of conspiracy and embezzlement. [Wash. Post 7/14/02]

Buffalo Boss Makes Restitution to Pension Fund She Helped Clean Out

On June 21, Mrs. Ervolino was sentenced to a $5,000 fine on top of the $144,470 she had already paid back to the Hospital  & Nursing Home Council (HNHC) in Buffalo, NY.  She was also sentenced to one year probation and 150 hours of community service [U.S.D.C., W.D.N.Y.], and she agreed to a 13-year bar on employment by a union or union pension fund.  In exchange for her March 22 guilty plea and restitution, the U.S. Attny agreed to drop all remaining charges.  She specifically pled guilty to embezzling $1,513 from the HNHC to pay her husband's life insurance premium.

Union Embezzler Complains About Losing "Accustomed Lifestyle"

"At some time during the conspiracy, the defendant, Anna May Ervolino, stated to a person known to the Grand Jury that she hoped certain persons ‘did not expect them [the defendants] to give up the lifestyle to which they were accustomed.'"
--Denise E. O'Donnell, U.S. Attny, W.D.N.Y., May 16, 2000
Ervolino's statement came as investigators zeroed in on her and her late husband, Frank, for bankrupting the Hospital & Nursing Home Council's pension fund by using their executive positions on the HNHC to embezzle hundreds of thousands of dollars.

No. Ill. Boss Confesses to Stealing $362K from Union He Founded

Charles C. Isely, III, ex-president and treasurer of the Int'l Employees Welfare Union (IEWU) pled guilty on July 10 to embezzlement and mail fraud. He embezzled $362,000 from the Waukegan, Ill.-based union, which he founded and ran from 1974 to 1998. He wrote 30 fraudulent checks totaling $225,000 from IEWU's death trust fund, and 40 checks for $108,000 on IEWU's bank accounts. Isely used the union's funds for personal expenses. Further, Isely allegedly obtained a $20,000 bank loan under the union's name and reportedly deposited it in his personal bank account.  Isely committed the crimes between 1994 and 1997.

Isely could be sentenced to more than two years in prison on October 2, according to Asst. U.S. Attny Carolyn McNiven. [Chi. Trib. 7/11/02]

NY Officials Forced to Refund Illegal Dues after Violating Federal Settlement

Responding to charges filed by attorneys with the National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation, the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) has forced Local 200 of the Service Employees Intl Union to refund illegally seized union dues from employees of the Marsellus Casket Company.

This is the second time the NLRB has issued a formal complaint against SEIU Local 200 in the past year. Under the NLRB's original settlement, issued in November, SEIU officials were ordered to refund the employees' dues and fees that were used for non-representational purposes.  Union officials disregarded the agreement and continued illegally seizing workers' dues to pay for union politics. As part of the second settlement, the NLRB has also mandated the union must post a notice alerting workers and employees of the Marsellus Casket Company of their right to refrain from formal union membership and the payment of full union dues.

Ex-Treasurer Must Pay Back $28K to AZ Govt. Union

On July 3, 2002, in the Superior Court of the State of Arizona, Maricopa County, Mary Katherine Johnson, former treasurer of American Federation of Government Employees Local 2552, was sentenced to incarceration for four months followed by five years probation and was ordered to make full restitution to the union of $28,853.69. She had pled guilty on June 3, 2002, to attempted theft following an investigation by the OLMS Los Angeles District Office. [DOL]

Indiana Official Admits to Forgery
On June 25, 2002, in Marion County (Indiana) court, Mack Dykes, former president of American Federation of Government Employees Local 1411, pled guilty to two counts of forgery in the amount of $7,100. He had been indicted on March 21, 2002, following an investigation by the OLMS Cincinnati District Office. [DOL]

Dem. Chief's Shady Business Past with the IBEW

[Excerpted from Btron York's article on National Review Online: http://www.nationalreview.com/york/york071602.asp

Democratic National Committee chairman Terry McAuliffe has been a leading critic of President Bush's business dealings with the Harken Energy Corporation, as well as the president's corporate-reform efforts. "It's time this CEO, President Bush, took responsibility for his actions as a private businessman," McAuliffe said shortly after the Harken matter appeared in the press.

NYC Mob "Enforcer" in ILA Denied Bail

Federal Judge Fredric Block (E.D.N.Y. Clinton) denied bail on July 16 to a Gambino family"captain" indicted for infiltrating two ILA locals in NYC and intimidating dissidents.

Anthony "Sonny" Ciccone was charged last month with intimidating ILA bosses into placing a Genovese associate on the ILA's Executive Council, as a stepping stone to the ILA presidency.  Ciccone and others were also charged with intimidating trustees of the ILA's national health plan into awarding a prescription contract to a firm from which the Gambino and Genovese families then split a kick-back of approximately $400,000.  Further, between June 2000 and Aug. 2001, Ciccone and others, allegedly coerced ILA Local 1 officials into following Ciccone's directives regarding the management of the local, including the placement of members in particular jobs.

At the July 16 hearing in Brooklyn, federal prosecutors cited enough wiretaps and other evidence of Ciccone's threats, that Judge Block ruled that they had shown in its "proffer" of pre-trial evidence that Ciccone was too dangerous to be released, and Block ordered that he be held without bail. [NYT, 7/17/02]

Unions Appeal OK Right to Work Ruling

Union lawyers have filed an appeal at the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit to overturn Oklahoma's new Right to Work Law, a measure making union membership voluntary while creating new jobs.  "The decision to file an appeal is another slap in the face to the voters of Oklahoma who rejected the unions' cynical campaign of misinformation last fall," said Stefan Gleason, Vice President of the National Right to Work Foundation, whose legal-aid attorneys will be representing employees defending the Right to Work law at the appellate court.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics of the U.S. Department of Labor, Oklahoma has led the nation in the creation of jobs since the passage of Right to Work last September.

"The workers of Oklahoma are already seeing the benefits of living in a Right to Work state," said Gleason."When will union officials end their hostility toward employee freedom and the creation of new jobs for Oklahomans?"

NLPC Urges DOL Check Up of Big Labor's "Arthur Andersen"

When the Thomas Havey firm brags about the $42 billion in union funds it audits as its"Labor..specialty," the Fed. Govt. needs to see if that includes the same cover-up of embezzlement revealed in the case of the Intl. Assn. of Bridge, Structural, Ornamental & Reinforcing Iron Workers (IAIW).  That's the message in a petition that NLPC filed with the US Dept. of Labor June 24.

NLPC filed the petition after Havey partner Alfred S. Garappolo admitted in federal court that he concealed from DOL investigators IAIW officials' demands that Havey falsify reports of disbursements to its officers on the IAIW's annual financial report (LM-2) filed with DOL.

Hoffa Seizes NW Airline Affiliate, Fearing Break from IBT

Intl. IBT chief James P. Hoffa tried to block a threat to his union by seizing control of the Minneapolis bargaining unit that represents 11,500 Northwest Airlines flight attendants.  On July 1, Hoffa placed Teamsters Local 2000 under trusteeship, ousting the local president and the executive board, which Hoffa said failed to oppose an organizing effort to create the Professional Flight Attendants Association (PFAA).  The Hoffa trustee, Mollie Reiley, vowed to wage a vigorous campaign against PFAA organizers.

When Hoffa was reelected president, a huge majority of Local 2000 members voted for his opponent.  Recently, 100 percent of Local 2000 delegates opposed a dues increase favored by the Hoffa administration.  In mid-June, a group of Northwest flight attendants launched a drive to form the PFAA. To trigger an election where attendants could switch from the IBT to the PFAA, organizers need about half of the flight attendants to sign election authorization cards.

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