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.

Secretary of Midwest Carpenters Council Charged; Pleads Guilty

President Bush speaks before the CarpentersLaura Dixon's attorney had insisted that his client's thefts were motivated by a concern for the welfare of union members. In the end, that would have been too much for a jury to accept. On March 13, Dixon, formerly office secretary for the Ohio and Vicinity Regional Council of Carpenters, pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Ohio to embezzling between $70,000 and a little above $170,000 from the Toledo, Ohio-based labor organization. She had been charged on February 23. The union, recently merged into an entity known as the Indiana/Kentucky/Ohio Regional Council of Carpenters, represents about 17,000 workers in 33 locals. The actions follow a probe by the U.S. Labor Department's Office of Labor-Management Standards.

Central California Firefighters Treasurer Charged with $100K+ in Thefts

Clovis Firefighters Association logo John Morton Watson intends to repay his union in full. Before that happens, however, he may have to serve some prison time. Watson, former treasurer of his union, the Clovis Firefighters Association, was charged in Fresno County Superior Court on March 27 with embezzling as much as $150,000 from the association over a more than six-year period. Watson pleaded not guilty. He previously had surrendered to police and was released on his own recognizance. Watson's next hearing is set for May 1. The union, also known as Local 1695 of the International Association of Fire Fighters, is based in Clovis, a city of about 100,000 near Fresno.

NY Times Chevy Volt Criticism Confounds Proponents

Volt photoThe report by the NY Times that it would take up to 27 years for Chevy Volt buyers to save enough money in gas costs to make up for the high price of the car must be very confusing for apologists of the vehicle. The normal defense for any criticism is to accuse sources of having a right wing hate of the car. But the NY Times? The very vocal Volt defenders, who are quick to attack anyone who doesn't agree that the car is a technological marvel worthy of billions of dollars of taxpayer largess, will have to attribute the left-leaning Times' criticism to something other than a political agenda.

New Jersey Transportation Workers Local President Sentenced

UTU logoOn February 9, Jose Rivera, former president and secretary-treasurer of United Transportation Union Local 710, was sentenced in U.S. District Court for the District of New Jersey to three years probation and ordered to pay the remaining balance of restitution for accepting an illegal loan of more than $14,000 while serving as an officer of the Newark-based union. He had pleaded guilty last July. The union represents Coach USA bus drivers in northern New Jersey. The guilty plea and sentencing follow an investigation by the U.S. Labor Department's Office of Labor-Management Standards.

Steelworkers Headquarters Ex-Staffers Charged with Embezzlement

Steelworkers logoOn February 7, two former staff representatives at the United Steelworkers' national office in Pittsburgh were indicted in U.S. District Court for the Western District of Pennsylvania for embezzling union funds. One defendant, Robert Misuraca, now an official with United Steelworkers Local 1000 in Corning, N.Y., allegedly stole $17,566.21.  The other defendant, Curtis Reed, allegedly stole $3,694.32. The charges follow a probe by the U.S. Labor Department's Office of Labor-Management Standards.

CWA Local President in Minnesota Sentenced for Theft

CWA logoOn February 6, Michelle Jean Nelson, former president of Communications Workers of America Local 7272, was sentenced to 45 days home confinement and 10 years probation for theft from the Erskine, Minn. (near Grand Forks, N.D.) union. She also was ordered to pay $4,634.22 in restitution, plus a $100 fine and $160 in special assessments and fees. Nelson in November 2011 entered an Alford plea of guilt after being charged that March. The actions follow a probe by the U.S. Labor Department's Office of Labor-Management Standards.

Ex-Nebraska Police Officer Pleads Guilty to Theft; Sentenced

Lincoln police logoCassandra Briggs may have been a good cop, but she wasn't a very good manager of union funds. This Tuesday, April 3, Briggs was sentenced in Lancaster County (Neb.) District Court to between two and five years in prison for embezzling more than $11,000 from Lincoln Police Union Charities over a more than two-year period. She pleaded guilty this January after leaving the force the previous April. Briggs has until June 3 to turn herself in, and must serve one year before becoming eligible for parole.

Minnesota Postal Workers Local Secretary Pleads Guilty; Sentenced

Postal Workers logoOn March 6, Cherity Perez, former secretary-treasurer of American Postal Workers Union Local 631, was sentenced in Kandiyohi County, Minnesota District Court to 15 days of home confinement and two years of probation for theft of funds from the Willmar union. She also will have to pay additional restitution of $95.80, plus $90 in court fees, after previously making restitution in the amount of $1,144. Perez had been charged last August with theft of $1,240 and pleaded guilty in February. The actions follow an investigation by the Labor Department's Office of Labor-Management Standards.

Secretary-Treasurer of Michigan Plant Protection Workers Local Pleads Guilty

On February 2, Carol Wethington, former secretary-treasurer of Plant Protection Association (PPA) Local 103, pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan to making false entries in records of the Dearborn-based local. She had been charged in September. The PPA is headquartered in Ypsilanti, Mich., and represents security employees in several Midwest cities. The charge and guilty plea follow a probe by the U.S. Labor Department's Office of Labor-Management Standards.

Kansas City, Mo. AFGE Ex-President Pleads Guilty to Fraud

AFGE logoOn February 1, Kelley Dull, former president of American Federation of Government Employees Local 4094 in Kansas City, Mo. and AFGE Council 171 in Cleveland, pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court for the Western District of Missouri to one count of wire fraud in the amount of $32,118.66 against the Kansas City, Mo. local union. The guilty plea follows a probe by the U.S. Labor Department's Office of Labor-Management Standards.

Kaiser Permanente Workers National Director Indicted

SEIU logoOn January 26, Joseph Barnes, former national director of the Coalition of Kaiser Permanente Unions, was indicted in U.S. District Court for the Central District of California for embezzlement totaling $4,380. The coalition, based in Washington, D.C., represents about 90,000 Kaiser Permanente employees, half of whom belong to Service Employees International Union-United Healthcare West (SEIU-UHW). The indictment follows an investigation by the U.S. Labor Department's Office of Labor-Management Services.

Northern California Firefighters Treasurer Sentenced for Thefts

Firefighters in actionMichael Bechtold had unusual domestic expenses. Unfortunately, he tried to meet them by stealing from his union. Bechtold, formerly fire captain and fire marshal for the Rancho Adobe Fire Protection District, north of San Francisco, was sentenced on January 17 in Sonoma County Superior Court to a year in jail and five years probation for embezzling more than $63,000 over a five-year period from the Rancho Adobe Firefighters Association. He also will have to pay full restitution. Bechtold had been arrested last October and charged with six counts of felony grand theft. The following month he pleaded guilty to one count of theft.

Which Pays Fair Share of Taxes, ExxonMobil or GM?

One thing that I have realized about the rhetoric surrounding green energy initiatives and the proclamations by Team Obama glorifying companies like General Motors while vilifying others like ExxonMobil is that the claims and the facts are worlds apart. Voters are led to believe that evil oil companies like ExxonMobil are getting a free pass and not paying their fair share while the supposedly patriotic GM is an American success story which now contributes to society and builds miracle cars like the Chevy Volt which will free the US from foreign oil dependence. One set of facts that is very easy to check on is the amount of taxes each of these companies pays. Following are the facts from the SEC annual financial reports (10Ks) of GM and ExxonMobil.

Atlanta-Area Letter Carriers Treasurer Sentenced for Embezzlement

Letter Carriers logoOn January 25, Tommy Harris, former treasurer of National Association of Letter Carriers Branch 1230, was sentenced in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Georgia to four years of probation, 11 months of home confinement and 200 hours of community service for embezzlement of funds from the Griffin, Ga. local. He also will have to pay restitution in the amount of $24,646.82, of which $4,646.82 is outstanding, plus a $100 special assessment. Harris pled guilty in November. The actions follow a probe by the Labor Department's Office of Labor-Management Standards.

Southern Ohio Carpenters Local Secretary, Husband Plead Guilty

Carpenters On January 25, Marqueeta Tibbs, former office secretary of United Brotherhood of Carpenters Local 437, pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Ohio to one count of embezzling funds from the Portsmouth, Ohio-based union in the amount of $84,903. A month later, on February 24, her husband, Zeffrey Tibbs, pleaded guilty to embezzlement in the same amount. Each had been indicted last September 21. The indictments and guilty pleas follow an investigation by the U.S. Labor Department's Office of Labor-Management Standards.

Steelworkers Secretary in Indiana Pleads Guilty to Theft; Sentenced

Steelworkers logoOn January 23, Brianna Gates, former financial secretary of United Steelworkers of America Local 7-975, pleaded guilty in the Fountain County, Indiana Circuit Court to two counts of theft totaling $3,975. She then was sentenced to three years of probation and 50 hours of community service for each year of her sentence. She also was ordered to pay the remaining restitution balance of $1,729. Though Gates is a resident of Indiana, the union is based in Fairmount, Ill. The guilty plea and sentencing follow a probe by the Labor Department's Office of Labor-Management Standards.

Louisiana AFGE Local President Pleads Guilty; Sentenced

AFGE logoOn January 20, John Wayne Walker, former president of American Federation of Government Employees Local 2000, pleaded guilty in the State of Louisiana, 26th Judicial District Court, Parish of Bossier, to theft of funds from the Shreveport union. He then was sentenced to five years probation and ordered to pay $16,057.75 in restitution and a $500 fine. The guilty plea and sentencing follow a probe by the U.S. Labor Department's Office of Labor-Management Standards.

Operating Engineers Business Manager in Houston Pleads Guilty

IUOE logoOn January 19, Ronald Witt, former business manager of International Union of Operating Engineers Local 450, pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Texas to one count of conspiracy from the Houston-based local. Witt and his wife, Anita, had been arrested last July on charges of embezzling more than $150,000 from the local's general and job training funds, and forging financial records to conceal the thefts. He originally had denied all allegations, claiming he had receipts that would exonerate him and his wife. The actions follow a joint investigation by the U.S. Labor Department's Office of Labor-Management Standards and Employee Benefits Security Administration.

Related:

Texas Operating Engineers Local Business Manager, Wife Arrested

 

Central California Machinists Secretary-Treasurer Sentenced for Embezzlement

On January 23, Tracy Ford, former secretary-treasurer of International Association of Machinists Lodge 1528, was sentenced in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of California to five years of probation, including 10 months of home detention, for embezzling nearly $175,000 in funds from the Modesto-based union. She was ordered to pay full restitution and a $125 special assessment. Ford had been indicted in February 2011 and pleaded guilty that September. The actions follow an investigation by the Labor Department's Office of Labor-Management Standards.

Related:

Machinists Secretary-Treasurer in Central California Pleads Guilty

Transportation Union Secretary-Treasurer of Texas Local, Wife Plead Guilty

UTU logoOn January 26, Vance Valentine, former secretary-treasurer of United Transportation Union Local 524, pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Texas to filing false financial reports on behalf of the Willis, Texas (north of Houston) labor organization. He had been indicted last September. Three days earlier, on January 23, his wife, Sheila Valentine, pleaded guilty in that court to embezzling union funds in an unspecified amount. She, too, had been indicted in September. The actions follow a probe by the U.S. Labor Department's Office of Labor-Management Standards.

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