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.

Pennsylvania Utility Workers Ex-Local Presidents Sentenced

Utility Workers logo

Utility Workers of America Local 475 must be having a tough time finding a few honest men. On July 16, John Vetterly, Jr., former president of the Rochester (Beaver County), Pa.-based union was sentenced in U.S. District Court for the Western District of Pennsylvania to nine months of house arrest and five years of probation for embezzling $26,605 in funds from its coffers. He also was ordered to pay restitution, plus interest and a fine of 10 percent of the embezzled funds.  Vetterly had pleaded guilty in March after being indicted last October. Unfortunately, another former Local 475 president, Michael Trembulak, had a similar problem. Less than two weeks later, on July 29, Trembulak was indicted on one count of embezzling $31,528 in union funds during April 19, 2012-September 18, 2012. The actions in each case follow an investigation by the U.S. Labor Department's Office of Labor-Management Standards.

Postal Workers Secretary-Treasurer in Georgia Charged with Theft

Postal Workers logoOn July 8, Cynthia Collins, former secretary-treasurer of American Postal Workers Union Local 12, was indicted in U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Georgia with embezzling funds from the Athens, Ga.-based union in the amount of $23,345 and concealing the thefts in union financial records. The indictment follows an investigation by the U.S. Labor Department's Office of Labor-Management Standards.

Firefighters Treasurer in SE Virginia Indicted for Embezzlement

IAFF logoSheron Gibson had built an excellent reputation over the years. Apparently, he also was willing to undermine it. On June 25, Gibson, a longtime firefighter with the City of Suffolk, Virginia, was indicted in a state circuit court on 12 counts of embezzlement and one count of forgery following his arrest for the theft of at least $50,000, and likely more than $100,000, from the union where he served as treasurer, Local 2801 of the International Association of Fire Fighters (IAFF). Following his arrest, he was released on a $2,500 bond.

NLRB Reviews Teamster Petition to Expand Definition of 'Dual Employer'

Trash haulerWhen does being employed by a contractor also mean being employed by the corporation with whom it contracts? The National Labor Relations Board currently is reviewing this issue in a potential landmark case. If the board rules in favor of a Teamsters local in California, unions everywhere could have a  powerful organizing weapon. The union had filed a petition back in July 2013 to represent workers at a San Francisco Bay Area recycling plant. A labor contractor, Leadpoint Business Services, handles hiring, wages and other personnel issues at the plant on behalf of the plant owner, Browning-Ferris Industries (BFI) of California Inc. The union wants the board to classify Leadpoint and BFI as a dual employer for collective bargaining purposes.

Former Treasurer of Amtrak Police Union Arrested, Indicted

Amtrak trainThe union representing security employees of Amtrak, the nation's federally-chartered rail passenger corporation, was missing funds. It didn't have far to look for the source of the problem. On June 24, Eric Givens, a longtime Amtrak police officer, was charged in U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York with one count each of wire fraud, embezzlement and making a false statement related to his alleged theft of at least $100,000 in funds from the Amtrak Police Labor Committee, and a Fraternal Order of Police affiliate, each of which he had served as treasurer. He had been arrested earlier that day. Three weeks later, on July 15, he was indicted by a grand jury. The actions follow an investigation by the Labor Department's Office of Labor-Management Standards and Office of Inspector General, and the Amtrak Police Department's Office of Internal Affairs.

Letter Carriers Secretary in Alabama Sentenced for Embezzlement

NALC logoOn June 26, Harold Ray, former secretary of National Association of Letter Carriers (NALC) Branch 469 and the NALC Alabama State Association, was sentenced in U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Alabama to two months in prison and three years of supervised release for embezzling funds from the two labor organizations, located, respectively, in Mobile and Birmingham. He also was ordered to pay combined restitution in the amount of $31,954 plus a $100 special assessment. Ray had been indicted in January for embezzling $38,565; he pled guilty in March. The actions follow a probe by the U.S. Labor Department's Office of Labor-Management Standards.

Former Letter Carriers Boss In Kentucky Indicted

NALC logoOn June 13, David Lynch, former president and treasurer of National Association of Letter Carriers Branch 383, was indicted in the McCracken County, Kentucky Circuit Court for theft of more than $10,000 in funds from the Paducah-based union. The indictment follows an investigation by the Labor Department's Office of Labor-Management Standards.

Steelworkers President in South Carolina Charged with Theft

Steelworkers logoOn May 14, Timothy Gamble, former president of United Steelworkers Local 378, was charged in U.S. District Court for the District of South Carolina with embezzling $9,345 in funds from the Aynor (near Myrtle Beach) union during May 2010-May 2013. The charge follows an investigation by the U.S. Labor Department's Office of Labor-Management Standards.

Individual Sentenced for Theft from Washington, D.C. MEBA Affiliate

Marine Engineers logoOn June 12, Dianna Woodall was sentenced in U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia to three years of supervised probation and 100 hours of community service for participating in a scheme to cash a $9,836 counterfeit check drawn on a bank account of Marine Engineers Beneficial Association (MEBA) District 1, based in Washington, D.C. She also was ordered to pay full restitution. Woodall had pleaded guilty in March after being charged earlier than month. Another individual, Kenneth Marshall Jr., also had pleaded guilty in March to cashing two counterfeit checks totaling $18,851 drawn on that MEBA account. A union spokesman informed NLPC at the time that neither was a union member. The sentencing of Woodall follows a joint probe by the FBI and the U.S. Labor Department's Office of Labor-Management Standards and Office of Inspector General.

Former Secretary-Treasurer of Denver-Area AFGE Local Indicted

AFGE logoOn June 3, Aide Spade, former secretary-treasurer of American Federation of Government Employees Local 709, was indicted in U.S. District Court for the District of Colorado on four counts of concealing union disbursements to her. The Littleton-based union represents employees of the Colorado state prison system. The indictment comes six years after an audit by the Labor Department's Office of Labor-Management Standards (see pdf) showed a lack of documentation by Spade of credit card and other supposedly union-related expenses.

Washington, D.C.-Area Police, Security Union Boss Pleads Guilty to Theft

Security copAs a retired cop, J.C. Stamps was about the last person one would suspect of stealing funds. But he indeed had stolen - and from more than one organization. On June 23, Stamps, a retired detective from the Washington, D.C. Metropolitan Police Department and the founder of two separate unions and a security firm, pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia to embezzling nearly $200,000 over a roughly four-year period from the unions. He had been charged on June 9. The charge and guilty plea follow a joint probe by the U.S. Labor Department's Office of Labor-Management Standards, Office of Inspector General and Employee Benefits Security Administration.

Kentucky Teamsters Local President Indicted for Embezzlement, Fraud

Teamsters logoOn July 1, Jerry Thomas Vincent Jr., president of International Brotherhood of Teamsters Local 783, was indicted in U.S. District Court for the Western District of Kentucky on multiple counts of embezzlement, fraud and false record-keeping that enabled him to obtain more than $40,000 in purchases and loans from the Louisville union. Prosecutors allege Vincent, 53, a resident of Louisville, during October 5, 2009-June 17, 2011 embezzled $17,272.84 in funds through unauthorized credit card charges and $23,760 in illegal loans. They also accuse him of concealing these transactions in union financial records. An arraignment is scheduled for July 22. The indictment follows an investigation by the U.S. Labor Department's Office of Labor-Management Standards.

Supreme Court Curbs Public-Sector Union Power; Sides with Non-Joining Home Care Workers

home health care workerPublic-sector unions largely owe their growth to their authority to force non-joining workers to put money in their coffers. The Supreme Court believes this authority needs some restraint. By a 5-4 margin, the Court ruled on Monday, June 30, in Harris v. Quinn that nonunion private-sector home health workers cannot be required to support a public employee union even if their wages come from state Medicaid funds. The class-action suit originated in 2010 when several home care workers sued the State of Illinois and two unions, challenging two executive orders issued, respectively, in 2003 and 2009 classifying thousands of these service providers as state employees. The orders, wrote Justice Samuel Alito, violated worker freedom of speech. At the same time, the ruling did not overturn the 1977 decision that justified the public-sector union shop and applied it to non-members.

Supreme Court Nixes Obama NLRB Recess Appointments, but Justifies Authority

Anthony KennedyThe National Labor Relations Board has been a model of instability these last half-dozen years. And the drama, though temporarily resolved last July, won't likely end soon. Last Thursday, June 26, the Supreme Court unanimously ruled in Noel Canning v. NLRB that President Obama exceeded his authority in making three "recess appointments" to the NLRB on January 4, 2012 during a Senate break which, in the eyes of the Court, did not qualify as a recess. "The Senate is in session when it says it is," wrote Justice Stephen Breyer. Yet the ruling was not a full defeat for Obama. By 5-4, the four liberals on the Court, joined by Justice Anthony Kennedy (in photo), also ruled against the near-elimination of presidential recess authority and thus undercut a circuit court ruling in January 2013.

President, Secretary Sentenced for Theft from Chicago-Area AFGE Local

AFGE logoOn May 23, James Charleston, ex-president of American Federation of Government Employees Local 2107, was sentenced in federal court to a year and a day in prison, to be followed by 18 months of supervised release, for defrauding the North Chicago union. He also was ordered to pay $102,784 in restitution. Charleston had pleaded guilty in January of this year after being charged in July 2012. Nearly two weeks later, on June 5, Mary Craigen, former local secretary-treasurer, was sentenced to 90 days of home confinement, two years of probation, and 200 hours of community service for theft. She also was ordered to pay $8,975 in restitution. Craigen had pleaded guilty in November 2012 after being charged four months earlier. Ex-Local Vice President Jacquelyn Pugh-Rodgers already had pleaded guilty in March 2013, and was sentenced that July for mail fraud in an amount exceeding $35,000. The actions follow an investigation by the U.S. Labor Department's Office of Labor-Management Standards.

Maintenance of Way Secretary-Treasurer in Indiana Sentenced

BMWE logoOn May 22, J.D. Richey, former secretary-treasurer of the Brotherhood of Maintenance of Way Employees Division Local Lodge 3025, a Teamsters affiliate, was sentenced in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Indiana to two years of probation and ordered to pay $7,300 in restitution for embezzling funds from the Fort Wayne union. He had been charged in July 2013, and pleaded guilty this February. The actions follow an investigation by the Labor Department's Office of Labor-Management Standards.

Former LIUNA Local Employee in Nevada Sentenced for Embezzlement

LIUNA logoIf Las Vegas is the place to get lucky, then Aurora Rios hit the jackpot - sort of. On June 9, Rios, ex-office cashier for Laborers International Union of North America Local 872, was sentenced in U.S. District Court for the District of Nevada to 18 months in prison, six months of home confinement, and three years of supervised release for embezzling funds from the Las Vegas union. Though ordered to pay $11,500 in restitution and $2,175 in fines, she could have owed a lot more. Rios had been charged in April 2010 with 21 counts of embezzling $167,500 and three counts of falsifying union records. She pleaded guilty in April 2012. Rios was one of three persons charged in the case; the two others, Stacy Johnson and Aundrea Valerio, also pleaded guilty. The total theft, originally reported at $225,000, later was estimated at $320,000. The actions follow a probe by the U.S. Labor Department's Office of Labor-Management Standards.

Officers of Cleveland-Area Firm Sentenced for NBA Players Union Fraud, Cover-Up

NBA Players Union conferenceJoseph Lombardo may not have stolen funds, but it was the attempt that counted. Last Tuesday, June 10, Lombardo, founder and managing director of the Independence, Ohio-based Prim Capital Corp., was sentenced in Manhattan federal court to 18 months in prison for forging signatures in an attempt to renew a multi-year benefits management contract with the National Basketball Players Association (NBPA) worth more than $3 million. Almost three weeks earlier, on May 21, chief compliance officer for the firm, Carolyn Kaufman, was sentenced to six months of home confinement, three years of probation, and 500 hours of community service, and fined $25,000, for helping to conceal the fraud. Lombardo pled guilty in November; Kaufman had been found guilty last December following a trial. The actions follow probes by the Labor Department and the Justice Department.

Boilermakers Bookkeeper in Indiana Sentenced for Theft

Boilermaker at workOn May 14, Karen Stone, former bookkeeper for International Brotherhood of Boilermakers Local Lodge 374, was sentenced in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Indiana to one year of probation for embezzling $9,170 in funds from the Hammond-based local. She also was ordered to pay full restitution and a $100 assessment. Stone had pleaded guilty on February 7 upon being charged. The actions follow a probe by the Labor Department's Office of Labor-Management Standards.

OPEIU Business Manager, Bookkeeper in Minnesota Sentenced

Office and Professional Employees logoOn May 13, Elizabeth Branca, former business manager for Office and Professional Employees International Union Local 12, was sentenced in U.S. District Court for the District of Minnesota to two years of probation, and ordered to pay full restitution plus a $100 fine, for embezzling $16,546 in funds from the Roseville, Minn.-based union. She had been charged and pleaded guilty last December. Two days later, on May 15, Laurie Hoffman, a former bookkeeper for the local, was sentenced to two years of probation, and ordered to pay $8,909 in restitution and a $100 fine, for embezzling funds. She also had been charged and pleaded guilty in December. The actions in each case follow an investigation by the U.S. Labor Department's Office of Labor-Management Standards.

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