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.

West Virginia Postal Workers Treasurer Pleads Guilty to Embezzlement

Postal Workers logoOn March 8, Pamela Hinzman, former treasurer of American Postal Workers Union Local 1580, pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court for the Southern District of West Virginia to embezzling $26,260.68 from the Parkersburg union. She had been charged in January. The guilty plea follows an investigation by the U.S. Labor Department's Office of Labor-Management Standards.

President of Northern Virginia Government Employees Local Charged; Pleads Guilty

NAGE-SEIU logoOn March 1, Kevin Threat, former president of National Association of Government Employees (NAGE) Local R3-84, was charged in U.S. District Court for the District of Maryland with theft in an amount greater than $1,000 from the Alexandria, Va.-based union. Eleven days later, on March 12, he pleaded guilty to stealing $15,505. The union is based in Virginia, but Threat is a resident of Maryland, thus explaining the prosecution taking place in the latter. NAGE is an affiliate of the Service Employees International Union. The charge and guilty plea follow a probe by the Labor Department's Office of Labor-Management Standards and Office of Inspector General.

Michigan Transportation Union Local Treasurer Charged; Pleads Guilty

UTU logoOn April 18, Paul Morales, former treasurer of United Transportation Union Local 1477, pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan to willfully failing to properly maintain union records in relation to unauthorized cash withdrawals totaling $22,829.39. He had been charged on February 29. The union is based in Taylor, Mich., in the Detroit area. The charge follows an investigation by the Labor Department's Office of Labor-Management Standards.

Contractor Pleads Guilty to Defrauding NYC Painters Local Benefit Fund

Brooklyn Bridge at nightFrancis Mazzella couldn't quite overcome his old temptation of getting on the take. Nominally the owner of an electrical services contracting firm, he pleaded guilty on February 27 in Brooklyn federal court to defrauding a benefit fund of a Queens, N.Y.-based union, Metal Polishers Local 8A-28A, an affiliate of the International Union of Painters and Allied Trades (IUPAT), of an unspecified sum. The fraud charges were related to renovation work his company allegedly performed on a  union building. For Mazzella, an ex-cop with the New York Police Department (NYPD), it was a painful reminder of a dozen years earlier, when he was forced off the force in the wake of a separate scandal. In the current case, he faces anywhere from 33 to 41 months in prison.

Seattle Glass Workers Financial Secretary Sentenced for Theft

GMP logoOn February 24, Poutoa Tuiolemotu, former financial secretary of Glass, Molders, Pottery, Plastics and Allied Workers International Union Local 50, was sentenced in U.S. District Court for the Western District of Washington to one year of probation and 90 days of home confinement for embezzling funds from the Seattle union. He also was ordered to pay restitution in the amount of $17,250. Tuiolemotu had pleaded guilty in December 2010. The actions follow an investigation by the U.S. Labor Department's Office of Labor-Management Standards.

GM Executive Refutes Chevy Volt / EV Hype

Sam Windgarden photoThe WSJ yesterday reported that auto company executives are skeptical regarding the prospects for plug-in electric vehicles like the Chevy Volt. The skepticism was displayed at the annual Society of Automotive Engineers World Congress. Among the skeptics was General Motors' executive director of powertrain-engine engineering, Sam Winegarden (in photo). It seems that not all criticism of the Chevy Volt and cars like it are driven by a right-wing conspiracy to enrich oil companies.

West Virginia Steelworkers Local President Sentenced for Embezzlement

Steelworkers logoOn February 24, Freda Hensley, former president of United Steelworkers Local 8-14505, was sentenced in U.S. District Court for the Southern District of West Virginia to five years probation with the first six months to be served in home confinement for embezzling funds from the West Logan, W.Va.-based union. She also will have to make $36,489.68 in restitution. Hensley last October pled guilty to embezzling $38,539.68 in union funds following a probe by the U.S. Labor Department's Office of Labor-Management Standards.

Puerto Rican Sugar Workers Union President Sentenced

Puerto Rican flagThe sugar workers union that Jose "Chepito" Caraballo-Figueroa ran was an illusion. But the money he stole from it was real. So now is his punishment. On February 23, Caraballo-Figueroa, formerly president of Sindicato Obreros Unidos del Sur, or SOUS, was sentenced in U.S. District Court for the District of Puerto Rico to 21 months in prison and one year of supervised release for embezzling an estimated $450,000 in funds from the Salinas, P.R. union. He had been arrested by the FBI and indicted by a grand jury in 2008 following a three-year investigation by the Labor Department's Office of Labor-Management Standards. Caraballo, after a long delay, pleaded guilty in February 2011.

Indiana Carpenters Treasurer Pleads Guilty; Sentenced

On March 29, Cynthia Collier, former secretary-treasurer of United Brotherhood of Carpenters and Joiners Local 2177, was sentenced in Morgan County Superior Circuit Court, State of Indiana, to 60 days home detention and two years probation for theft of funds from the union, formerly based in Scottsburg, Indiana (Scott County). She also made full restitution in the amount of $2,053 at sentencing. Collier pleaded guilty on February 23 and was charged last August 5. The actions follow an investigation by the Labor Department's Office of Labor-Management Standards.

President of New Mexico Firefighters Local Indicted for Theft

On February 23, William Dempsey, president of International Association of Fire Fighters Local 294, was indicted in the State of Texas, El Paso County, for theft of property worth more than $1,500 and but less than $20,000. The union is based in Las Cruces, N.M., but because Dempsey resides in Texas, the case is being prosecuted in the latter state. The charge follows a probe by the U.S. Labor Department's Office of Labor-Management Standards.

Maryland County Teachers Union Probed for Missing Funds

NEA logoIf an embezzler returns money to its proper owner, that doesn't erase the fact of the embezzlement. Authorities in Worcester County, Maryland have been operating on that principle since late January, when they initiated a probe of the temporary disappearance of more than $100,000 belonging to the Worcester County Teachers Association (WCTA). Evidence points to a former union treasurer, Denise Tull, as the most likely culprit. While Tull hasn't been charged with any offense, prosecutors believe an allegation of "misappropriated funds" contained in the association's 2011 tax filing will reveal the truth. "We have a potential crime that has gone unreported, at least to law enforcement," said Worcester County State's Attorney Beau Oglesby at the time. "There's going to be a complete and thorough investigation."

President of Wisconsin Letter Carriers Local Pleads Guilty; Sentenced

Letter Carriers logoOn February 21, Nancy Kumbler, former president and treasurer of National Association of Letter Carriers Branch 1144, entered an Alford plea in Wisconsin Circuit Court, Green Lake County, for theft from the Berlin, Wisc.-based union. She then was sentenced to a year of probation and was ordered to pay $3,505 in restitution. The Alford plea (in which a defendant doesn't formally admit to wrongdoing, but concedes the evidence is sufficient for a conviction) and sentencing follow an investigation by the Labor Department's Office of Labor-Management Standards.

Postal Workers President in NYC Indicted for Thefts

Postal Workers logoOn February 21, Neil Cardoso, former president of American Postal Workers Union Local 1241, was indicted in New York State Court with grand larceny for using a union ATM card to make unauthorized withdrawals totaling about $75,000. He was arrested a week later on February 28 and arraigned on March 2. The union is based in the Long Island City section of the borough of Queens. The indictment follows an investigation by the U.S. Labor Department's Office of Labor-Management Standards.

Massachusetts Steelworkers Treasurer Charged; Pleads Guilty

Steelworkers logoOn February 21, Roody Lespinasse, former treasurer of United Steelworkers Local 04-421, was charged in U.S. District Court for the District of Massachusetts with willfully failing to maintain financial records of the Brockton, Mass.-based union. He then pleaded guilty and agreed to pay restitution in the amount of $20,818. This case is connected to a larger one. Back in October 2010, Lespinasse and three other local officials, Stennett Bernard, Andy Alerte and Manuel Nogueira, were indicted for embezzling a combined roughly $7,000 in union funds by writing unauthorized checks. Both cases followed a probe by the Labor Department's Office of Labor-Management Standards.

AFGE Local Secretary-Treasurer in North Carolina Indicted

AFGE logoOn February 20, Terry Wagner, formerly secretary-treasurer of American Federation of Government Employees Local 2923, was indicted in North Carolina Superior Court, County of Durham, for embezzling between $7,312 and $7,845 in funds from the Durham union. The indictment follows an investigation by the Labor Department's Office of Labor-Management Standards.

LIUNA Takes Over Milwaukee Local after $1M+ Investment Loss; Local Sues Developer

LIUNA logoSteven Bako thought he could create wealth for Laborers International Union of North America (LIUNA) Local 113. Somehow he lacked the appropriate tools. On or shortly before January 24, Laborers international headquarters announced it had taken control of the local following allegations that Bako, formerly local secretary-treasurer of the 2,600-member Milwaukee construction union, had blown through more than $1 million in union funds in unauthorized investments. An internal LIUNA investigation recently concluded the largest part of that sum, a $600,000 loan, was uncollectible.

Localities Get Up to $33,000 in Subsidies per Chevy Volt

A Jacksonville.com report gives a good explanation for why some Florida localities are purchasing Chevy Volts. When Jacksonville's chief of fleet management, Karim Kurji, was asked what the advantage of going green by purchasing Volts was he hit the nail on the head when he replied, "Federal money."  The story goes on to reveal that the total federal taxpayer money used to subsidize one Chevy Volt purchased by Atlantic Beach was over $33,000. It now appears obvious that the Obama Administration and General Motors are willing to pay just about any price, even if the taxpayers are footing the bill, to see the Chevy Volt "succeed."

Pennsylvania Local Transportation Workers Secretary Sentenced

UTU logoOn February 17, Brandon Borders, formerly secretary-treasurer of Local 997 of the United Transportation Union, was sentenced in U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Pennsylvania to eight months of home confinement to be followed by 24 months of probation for embezzling $12,551.16 in funds from the Camp Hill, Pa.-based union over a nearly four-year period. He also was ordered to pay a $2,000 fine and a $100 special assessment after having already paid full restitution. Borders pleaded guilty last September and had been indicted in July. The union represents Norfolk Southern railroad employees. The actions follow an investigation by the U.S. Labor Department's Office of Labor-Management Standards.

Postal Workers Local Treasurer in Arkansas Sentenced

Postal Workers logoOn February 17, Steven Boyles, formerly secretary-treasurer and vice president of American Postal Workers Union Local 189, was sentenced in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Arkansas to one year of probation and 100 hours of community service for wire fraud against the Little Rock union. He also was ordered to pay a $2,500 fine and a $100 assessment. Boyles, along with local President Lance Hinerman and Craft Clerk Director Daniel Cassidy, had been indicted in September 2009 on a combined 200 counts, mostly for wire fraud. Boyles pleaded guilty last September. The sentencing follows an investigation by the Labor Department's Office of Labor-Management Standards and the U.S. Postal Service's Office of Inspector General.

Northern California Plumbers Local Treasurer, Wife Plead Guilty

On February 17, Robert Carr, former financial secretary-treasurer-business manager of United Association of Plumbers and Pipefitters Local 228, along with his wife, Theresa Ann Carr, pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of California to embezzling funds from the Yuba City, Calif. union. They agreed to pay a combined $120,000 and asked the court for respective sentences of 30 months and three months. The couple initially had been charged in April 2009 with embezzling more than $45,000 during January 2000-March 2007. Last August they were charged in a superseding indictment with stealing nearly $13,500. The pleas follow a joint probe by the Labor Department's Office of Inspector General and Office of Labor-Management Standards, plus the U.S. Postal Inspection Service.

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