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.

Court Throws Out Convictions of New Jersey IBEW Business Agent

IBEW logoHow much evidence does it take to make a conviction stick? Federal prosecutors in New Jersey probably have asked that question more than once since April 10, when U.S. District Judge William Martini, responding to a motion filed by the defense, tossed out the two convictions of Richard "Buzzy" Dressel, former business manager of International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local 164. Dressel and Local 164 President John DeBouter had been indicted in November 2012 on eight counts related to the embezzlement of a combined $350,000 in union and apprenticeship funds. A Newark jury in November 2013 convicted Dressel for embezzlement and conspiracy. DeBouter was indefinitely excused from the case after his lawyer experienced a brain aneurysm while questioning a witness. His trial has yet to resume.

Financial Secretary of Alaska Carpenters Local Indicted for Embezzlement

Carpenters logoOn April 16, Jonathan Smith, former financial secretary of United Brotherhood of Carpenters and Joiners Local 2247, was indicted in U.S. District Court for the District of Alaska on one count of embezzling $40,000 in funds from the Juneau-based union. Prosecutors say that during April 16, 2007-May 8, 2012, Smith stole from membership dues. Eventually, other union officials, having grown suspicious,  conducted an internal audit. Their fears confirmed, they requested an investigation by the Labor Department's Office of Labor-Management Standards.

Glass Workers Treasurer in Western Pennsylvania Pleads Guilty

GMP logoOn April 16, David Barr, former treasurer of Glass, Molders, Pottery, Plastics & Allied Workers Local 99, pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court for the Western District of Pennsylvania to one count of embezzlement of $5,688 in funds from the New Brighton (Beaver County)-based union. He had been charged last August. Sentencing is set for September. The actions follow a joint probe by the Labor Department's Office of Labor-Management Standards and Office of Inspector General.

Another Person Pleads Guilty to Theft from Marine Engineers

Marine Engineers logoOn April 9, Nyaunu-Wi Meatia Palmer pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia to one count of bank theft, and one count of aiding and abetting, for participation in a scheme to cash a $9,836 counterfeit check drawn from the bank account of Marine Engineers Beneficial Association (MEBA) District 1, located in Washington, D.C. Palmer is the third person involved in the scandal. On March 26, Dianna Woodall pleaded guilty to these charges involving the same sum. And on March 6, Kenneth Marshall Jr. pleaded guilty to cashing two counterfeit MEBA checks totaling $18,851. A union spokesman had told NLPC that none of the participants was a union member, and that this was a case of identity theft. The actions follow an investigation by the U.S. Labor Department's Office of Labor-Management Standards.

UGSOA President in Texas Pleads Guilty; Sentenced

UGSOA logoOn April 7, Kenneth Smith, former president of United Government Security Officers of America Local 208, pleaded guilty in the 184th Judicial District Court of Harris County, Texas to theft, and then was sentenced to two years probation and ordered to pay a $1,300 fine. Smith had been charged in October with felony theft in an amount of between $1,500 and $20,000. The sentencing follows an investigation by the U.S. Labor Department's Office of Labor-Management Standards.

NLRB Agrees to Hear Northwestern Appeal; Football Players Vote on Forming Union

NW footballDo college athletes qualify as employees? The nature of labor relations in this country could be seriously altered with a "yes" answer. And the National Labor Relations Board has agreed to consider the question. Last Thursday, April 24, the NLRB announced it would review an appeal by Northwestern University of a ruling by the board's Chicago regional office that NCAA Division I men's football and basketball scholarship athletes at private schools, as "employees," may unionize. A major force in this case, Kain Colter, a recent Northwestern quarterback, argues that since college athletes are pro all but in name, they deserve collective bargaining rights. In its appeal, filed on April 9, the university countered, and with good reason, that the decision ignored key facts.

New Jersey Local AFGE Ex-Office Employee Indicted for Theft

AFGE logoOn March 25, Michelle Garber, former office employee of American Federation of Government Employees Local 1778, was indicted in the State of New Jersey, County of Burlington, on charges of theft by deception, misapplication of entrusted property, and elements of computer theft from the Wrightstown, N.J.-based union. The indictment follows an investigation by the U.S. Labor Department's Office of Labor-Management Standards.

Financial Secretary of Texas Electrical Workers Local Pleads Guilty

IBEW logoOn April 3, James Jones, former business manager for International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local 898, pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Texas to one count of embezzling $11,164 in general and apprenticeship training funds from the San Angelo union. He had been indicted in January for embezzlement of $11,551 following a probe by the U.S. Labor Department's Office of Labor-Management Standards.

Five in Florida Plead Guilty to Role in $400K+ Ironworkers Benefit Scam

Iron Workers logoLocal 808 of the International Association of Iron Workers has a generous annuity plan. Just ask Angela Deleon, its former third-party administrator who siphoned off a large portion of the money to herself and several associates. Yesterday, on April 23, five residents of Volusia County, Fla. pleaded guilty in Orlando federal court to participating in a scam engineered by Deleon that netted more than $400,000 from the plan, sponsored by the Orlando-based union. They were among nine persons charged early last month. Deleon already had been arrested more than a year ago; she eventually pleaded guilty and received a two-year prison sentence and a restitution order. None of the additional defendants are union members or benefit plan participants. Each faces up to five years in prison.

Metal Employees Secretary in Western Pennsylvania Sentenced

On March 27, Duane Rill, former secretary-treasurer of the Berry Metal Employees Association, was sentenced in U.S. District Court for the Western District of Pennsylvania to six months of home detention and three years of probation for embezzling funds from the Cranberry Township, Pa.-based union in the amount of $13,496. He also was ordered to pay $896 in remaining restitution and a $100 special assessment, following his previous restitution payment of $12,600. Rill pleaded guilty last November and was indicted last May following an investigation by the Labor Department's Office of Labor-Management Standards.

Ex-Operating Engineers Bookkeeper in Denver Sentenced

Operating Engineers logoOn March 25, Ronald Martin, former bookkeeper for International Union of Operating Engineers Local 9, was sentenced in U.S. District Court for the District of Colorado to five months of probation, and ordered to pay $30,338 in restitution and a $200 assessment, for embezzling funds from the Denver union. In addition, the court rejected his petition for an exemption from Section 504 of the Labor-Management Reporting and Disclosure Act, which bars persons convicted of certain crimes from serving as a union official or employee for at least 13 years. Martin pleaded guilty last November after being charged in October. The actions follow a probe by the U.S. Labor Department's Office of Labor-Management Standards.

Pittsburgh-Area Utility Workers President Pleads Guilty to Theft

Utility Workers logoOn March 20, John Vetterly Jr., former president of Utility Workers Union of American Local 475, pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court for the Western District of Pennsylvania to embezzling $26,605 in funds from the Pittsburgh-area union. He had been indicted last October along with Local 475 Secretary-Treasurer John Baranski, the latter of whom had been accused of stealing $4,246 in union funds. The actions follow an investigation by the Labor Department's Office of Labor-Management Standards.

Alabama Letter Carriers Secretary Pleads Guilty to Embezzlement

Letter Carriers logoOn March 20, Harold Ray, former secretary for National Association of Letter Carriers (NALC) Branch 469 and the Alabama State Association of NALC, pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Alabama to one count of embezzling union funds in the amount of $38,565. He had been indicted in January. Branch 469 is located in Mobile; the state association is located in Birmingham. The indictment and guilty plea follow an investigation by the U.S. Labor Department's Office of Labor-Management Standards.

UAW Drops Challenge to Chattanooga VW Plant Vote; Might Pursue Other Tactics

Bob KingThe United Auto Workers is a union that likes a good fight. But even its leaders recognize a lost cause - for now. This morning the union withdrew its appeal to the National Labor Relations Board challenging a secret ballot election held in mid-February that would have enabled it to represent workers at the Volkswagen assembly plant in Chattanooga. Despite having committed VW management to silence via neutrality agreement, the UAW lost by 712 to 626. The union immediately claimed the results were invalid as a result of undue interference by anti-union Tennessee public officials. On February 21, the UAW filed a request with the NLRB to overturn the vote. Yet today it dropped its suit.

Illinois Locomotive Engineers Treasurer Pleads Guilty to Embezzlement

BLET logoOn March 20, Robert Davis, former secretary-treasurer of Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers and Trainmen (BLET) Division 644, a Teamsters affiliate, pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court for the Central District of Illinois to embezzling funds in the amount of $27,712 from the Galesburg-based union. He had been charged in July. The actions follow an investigation by the U.S. Labor Department's Office of Labor-Management Standards.

Secretary-Treasurer of Chicago SEIU Local Charged

Service Employees logoOn March 20, Rena Opre, former secretary-treasurer for Workers United Local 323, an affiliate of the Service Employees International Union, was charged in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Ohio in an information count of failing to disclose a material fact in a financial report filed in 2010 with the Department of Labor. No sum of funds was specified. Opre, 58, is a resident of Toledo; the local is based in Chicago. The charge follows an investigation by the Labor Department's Office of Labor-Management Standards.

Second Individual Pleads Guilty in MEBA Identity Theft Case

Marine Engineers logoOn March 26, Dianna Woodall pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia to one count of bank theft, and one count of aiding and abetting, for her role in cashing a $9,836 counterfeit check drawn on the account of Marine Engineers Beneficial Association (MEBA) District 1, located in Washington, D.C., along with the union's national headquarters. Woodall had been charged on March 13. Earlier, on March 6, Kenneth Marshall Jr. pleaded guilty in the same court to cashing two counterfeit checks totaling $18,851 drawn on the MEBA District 1 bank account. A union spokesman had indicated that Marshall, not a union member, engaged in identity theft. The prosecutions follow a joint probe by the FBI and the U.S. Labor Department's Office of Labor-Management Standards and Office of Inspector General.

Buffalo Jury Convicts Operating Engineers Boss; Acquits Four Others

Operating engineer at workWhen it comes to union violence, International Union of Operating Engineers (IUOE) Local 17, based near Buffalo, N.Y., has to rank as among its most obnoxious practitioners. The evidence of crime proved convincing enough for a federal jury last month to convict former local president and business manager Mark Kirsch on various racketeering-related charges. Yet the same jury in the six-week trial also acquitted four other defendants. Prosecutors alleged that all five union members were involved in repeated acts of vandalism of nonunion construction sites and terror against nonunion contractors and workers. The case had sprung open in 2008 with the indictment of a dozen persons, several of whom eventually pled guilty. While union leaders and their lawyers are cheering the outcome, it is highly unlikely the local can resume its mobster style of enforcement.

IATSE Secretary-Treasurer in Rhode Island Charged; Dies

IATSE logoJohn Brennan embezzled union funds to enhance his life. The stress of having been found out very likely contributed to his death. On March 19, Brennan, former secretary-treasurer of International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees Local 23, was indicted in U.S. District Court for the District of Rhode Island on 13 counts of stealing more than $74,000 in funds from the Providence union. The charges had followed a joint investigation by the Labor Department's Office of Labor-Management Standards, Office of Inspector General and Employee Benefits Security Administration. Sadly, only a couple weeks later, on April 3, the Providence Journal reported his death, which had occurred on March 29. A spokesman for the U.S. Attorney's Office in Providence confirmed to NLPC that the John Brennan indicated in the obituary was the same person named in the indictment. No cause of death was given.

Iron Workers Office Manager in Cincinnati Charged with Embezzlement

Iron Workers logoOn March 19, Julie Skaggs, former office manager for International Association of Bridge, Structural, Ornamental and Reinforcing Iron Workers Local 372, was indicted in U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Ohio on one count of embezzling $51,491 in funds from the Cincinnati union. The charge follows a probe by the Labor Department's Office of Labor-Management Standards.

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