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.

ILA Local Financial Secretary in Texas Pleads Guilty

Longshoremen's logo On February 19, Elmer Ray Booker, former financial secretary of International Longshoremen’s Association Local 1350, pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Texas to one count of embezzlement of funds from the Houston-based union in the amount of $42,018.  Booker had been charged in March 2015.  The actions follow an investigation by the U.S. Labor Department’s Office of Labor-Management Standards.

AFGE President in Alaska Indicted for Embezzlement

Alaska railroadJeffrey Davies ran a railroad workers union.  His union brothers probably wish he would take a one-way trip to somewhere else.  On December 16, Davies, former president of American Federation of Government Employees Local 183, was indicted in U.S. District Court for the District of Alaska on one count of embezzlement in excess of $100,000 in funds from the Anchorage-based union.  Though members are not government agency employees, their employer is the Alaska Railroad, a corporation owned by the State of Alaska.  This status has enabled the union to affiliate with the AFGE.  The indictment follows a joint investigation by the FBI and the U.S. Labor Department’s Office of Labor-Management Standards.

President of Security Workers Local in Houston Sentenced for Embezzlement

SPFPAOn March 1, Cynthia Angulo, former president of the Currency and Security Handlers Association, was sentenced in U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Texas to 10 months of confinement, to be followed by three years of supervised release, for embezzling $61,272 in funds from the Houston union.  She also was ordered to pay full restitution.  Angulo had pleaded guilty in August.  The union is an affiliate of the Security, Police and Fire Professionals of America (SPFPA).  The actions follow an investigation by the U.S. Labor Department’s Office of Labor-Management Standards.

Elevator Constructors Business Agent in New York Sentenced

Elevator Constructors logoOn February 26, Patrick Rommevaux, former business representative for International Union of Elevator Constructors Local 62, was sentenced in Onondaga County Court, N.Y. to five years of probation and ordered to pay a $2,000 fine, for grand larceny in the amount of $16,545 from the Syracuse-based union.  He previously made full restitution.  Rommevaux had pleaded guilty in December immediately after being indicted.  The actions follow a probe by the Labor Department’s Office of Labor-Management Standards.

AFGE Treasurer in North Carolina Charged with Fraud

AFGE logoOn February 23, Benjamin Stancil, secretary-treasurer of American Federation of Government Employees Local 451, was charged in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of North Carolina in a four-count information with wire fraud against the Havelock, N.C. (near New Bern) union.  The charge follows a probe by the U.S. Labor Department’s Office of Labor-Management Standards.

Ex-President, Vice President of New York SEIU Affiliate Charged

Service Employees logoOn February 19, Malkia King and Adrian Lindsay, respectively, former president and vice president of the Benefit Fund Staff Association (BFSA), were charged in U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York with embezzling funds from the New York City-based union in an amount of roughly $25,000.  The BFSA, with more than 600 members, is part of the powerful and politically-connected Service Employees International Union Local 1199, which represents health care workers in New York City and elsewhere in the northeast.  The charges follow an investigation by the U.S. Labor Department’s Office of Labor-Management Standards.

Steelworkers Financial Secretary in Michigan Pleads Guilty; Sentenced

Steelworkers logoOn February 18, Alton Alexander, former financial secretary of United Steelworkers Local 2-479, pleaded guilty in the 8th District Court of Kalamazoo County, Michigan to one count of misdemeanor embezzlement in an amount of between $200 and $1,000 from the Plainwell, Mich.-based union.  He then was sentenced to six months of probation and ordered to pay $2,553 in restitution, $300 in probation costs and a $100 fine.  He previously had paid restitution in the amount of $1,653.  Alexander had been charged last September.  The actions follow a probe by the U.S. Labor Department’s Office of Labor-Management Standards.

Supreme Court Deadlocked in Friedrichs; Public-Sector Unions Win

In sports, there is a saying:  “There’s nothing worse than a tie.”  For public-sector unions, however, a tie is now reason to celebrate.  Yesterday the U.S. Supreme Court announced it was deadlocked 4-4 over whether public-sector labor unions have the authority to force nonmembers to pay partial dues (“agency fees”) to keep their jobs.  The tie, made possible by the February death of Justice Antonin Scalia, removed the likely deciding vote in favor of the plaintiffs, the leader of whom was a California teacher, Rebecca Friedrichs (in photo). During oral arguments in January, a 5-4 win for the plaintiffs appeared certain.  The Court did not reschedule the case, and in so doing, left intact a dismissal of the plaintiffs’ claims by a federal appeals court.  Mandatory fees remain a fact of life.   

AFGE Treasurer in Kansas Pleads Guilty to Bank Fraud

AFGE logoShelly Sutton spent a lot of time stealing from her union.  She’s now likely to do some hard time.  On February 17, Sutton, former treasurer of American Federation of Government Employees Local 477, pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court for the District of Kansas to one count of bank fraud in the amount of $93,094.  The Wichita-based union represents employees at the local VA hospital.  She had been indicted last November for stealing $65,000 in union funds.  The actions follow an investigation by the U.S. Labor Department’s Office of Labor-Management Standards.

UAW Member in Louisiana Sentenced for Records Fraud

United Auto Workers logo On February 17, Danny Rawls, former member of United Auto Workers Local 2297, was sentenced in U.S. District Court for the Western District of Louisiana to one year of probation and ordered to pay restitution in the amount of $3,208 for concealing acts of theft in financial records of the Shreveport union.  He had pleaded guilty in September after being indicted in March 2015.  Rawls and Local Vice President Gregory Hill had been charged with embezzlement and forgery totaling more than $12,000.  The actions followed a probe by the U.S. Labor Department’s Office of Labor-Management Standards.

Ex-SAG Benefit Plan Official Pleads Guilty to $700K+ Tax Evasion

SAG logoWhen Bruce Dow resigned under pressure as longtime head of the Screen Actors Guild’s pension and health plans in April 2012 amid allegations of extensive self-dealing, a good deal of unfinished business remained.  Now the workload has gotten smaller.  On November 12, former plan chief information officer Nader Karimi pleaded guilty in Los Angeles federal court to omitting more than $700,000 in income on his tax returns for the years 2005 through 2008.  Karimi had changed his “not guilty” plea to “guilty” before U.S. District Judge Fernando Olguin.  Sentencing, originally set for March 11, has been reset for April 14.  He faces up to three years in prison.  The plea follows a probe by the FBI, the IRS, and the Labor Department’s Office of Inspector General and Employee Benefits Security Administration.   

South Florida Teachers Boss Convicted of Fraud, Theft

Florida educationEducators have been responsible for some of the more flagrant cases of union corruption in recent years.  Patrick Santeramo, for one, doesn’t need any reminders of that.  On January 20, Santeramo, former president of the Broward Teachers Union, the Broward County, Florida affiliate of the American Federation of Teachers, was convicted by a state jury on various theft, fraud, money laundering, and campaign finance violations.  Only weeks later, on February 12, he pleaded guilty in Fort Lauderdale federal court to one count of mail fraud.

Vice President of CWA Local in Detroit Pleads Guilty

Communications Workers logoOn February 16, Karen McJimpson, former executive vice president of Communications Workers of America Local 4004, pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan to one count of failure to maintain records of the Detroit-based union.  She had been charged earlier that day in a superseding information count following an August indictment for embezzlement of about $19,000 in union funds.  The actions follow an investigation by the U.S. Labor Department’s Office of Labor-Management Standards.

Illinois Teamster President Pleads Guilty to Records Fraud

Teamsters logoWhen Teamsters headquarters replaces a corrupt official with a trustee, the action may take a long while, if ever, to result in a prosecution.  In the case of Jerry Conner, the wait is over.  On February 5, Conner, former president and business agent for International Brotherhood of Teamsters Local 279, pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court for the Central District of Illinois to making false entries in financial records of the Decatur-based union.  The guilty plea follows a joint probe by the U.S. Labor Department’s Office of Labor-Management Standards and Office of Inspector General.

Sanders Campaign Consultant Is Convicted Steelworkers Official

Steelworkers logoHis blinkered economic ideas aside, Senator Bernie Sanders at least seems to work within the law.  The same can’t be said for one of his presidential campaign outreach advisers, Charles “Chuck” Rocha.  Early last month, the webzine Politico reported that Rocha, former political director for the United Steelworkers and now head of a consulting firm called Solidarity Strategies, had been convicted in 2013 of stealing funds from the union.  Union Corruption Update has reported on this case.  Rocha’s company thus far has received over $200,000 in Sanders campaign disbursements.  The revelation suggests that despite the senator’s frequent denunciations of establishment corruption, his populist instincts are less than sound when it comes to hiring campaign help.  

Laborers Local Business Manager in Arizona Sentenced

LIUNA logoOn February 4, Anne Susan, former business manager for Laborers International Union of North America Local 1386, was sentenced in Maricopa County (Ariz.) Superior Court to three years of probation for theft, identity theft and forgery against the Phoenix-based union.  She also was ordered to pay $18,056 in restitution.  Susan had pleaded guilty in January after being charged in October.  The sentencing follows an investigation by the U.S. Labor Department’s Office of Labor-Management Standards. 

Michigan Postal Workers President Charged with Embezzlement

APWU logoOn February 3, Lawrence Moyer, president of American Postal Workers Union Local 6723, was charged in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan with one count of embezzling $2,599 in funds from the Troy (suburban Detroit) union.  The charge follows a probe by the Labor Department’s Office of Labor-Management Standards.

Hawaii Painters Business Agent Pleads Guilty in $1.5M Theft

Honolulu skylineWhen it comes to embezzling union funds, third-party administrators can be as adept as union officials themselves.  And thefts can go undetected for years.  Just ask Painters union members in Hawaii.  On January 27, Raymond Fujii, former executive director for a trade group, the Painting & Decorating Contractors Association of Hawaii (PDCA), pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court for the District of Hawaii to one count of mail fraud in the amount of nearly $1.5 million against the PDCA and a related union-supported entity, the Hawaii Painters Trade Promotion & Charity Fund (TP&C).  Fujii also pleaded guilty to one count of filing a false tax return.  He had been charged on January 20.  The actions follow an investigation by the IRS and the U.S. Labor Department’s Office of Labor-Management Standards.

Postal Workers Official in Texas Charged with Records Fraud

Postal Workers logoOn January 27, Nereida Norris, clerk craft director of American Postal Workers Union Local 98, was charged in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Texas with making a false statement in financial records of the Fort Worth-based union.  The charge follows an investigation by the Labor Department’s Office of Labor-Management Standards.

NLRB Sides with Unions in Targeting Employee Handbooks

NLRBOrientation is a challenging time at a workplace.  New hires find themselves having to learn a lot in a short time.  That’s why their employers provide them with handbooks explaining the rules and addressing potential questions about them.  Unions, however, see these pamphlets as thinly-veiled attempts to suppress worker organizing rights.  During the Obama years, they have had an unofficial partner in the National Labor Relations Board.  A new monograph published by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, “Theater of the Absurd:  The NLRB Takes on the Employee Handbook,” should dispel any doubts that this alliance is real.  The 43-page report, written by Chamber senior staffer Sean Redmond, documents how the ostensibly "neutral" five-member board now sides regularly with unions over handbook-related complaints that have little, if any, validity.

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