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 Reinstates Conviction of New Jersey Electrical Workers Business Agent

IBEW logoFor a while, Richard “Buzzy” Dressel wasn't certain whether he would be headed for prison.  He's more certain now.  On August 13, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit reinstated the jury guilty verdict of Dressel, former business manager for International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local 164, on charges of stealing hundreds of thousands of dollars from the Paramus, N.J.-based union and its job training fund.  In reversing U.S. District Judge William Martini’s decision of April 2014 that had tossed out two embezzlement convictions, the appellate court stated:  “The jury’s verdict was not irrational, as there was sufficient evidence to convict Dressel of embezzling union funds.”  Dressel allegedly had used the money to provide his girlfriend (and now wife) with a no-show union job and to bankroll her catering business with a no-bid contract.   

Plumbers Ex-Business Manager in West Virginia Charged with Benefits Theft

Plumbers logoOn October 6, Jeffrey Beresford, former business manager and financial secretary of United Association of Plumbers and Pipefitters Local 83, was charged in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of West Virginia with two counts of embezzling funds from the joint apprenticeship program of the Wheeling union.  Beresford, 55, a resident of Cameron, W.Va., allegedly used position as a program trustee to write unauthorized checks from its bank account.  The alleged offense is separate from a financial records fraud charge in 2013 to which Beresford pleaded guilty, and was sentenced to one year of probation and ordered to pay $4,507 in restitution.  The new charges follow an investigation by the U.S. Labor Department’s Office of Inspector General.

Security Officers Treasurer in Colorado Pleads Guilty

UGSOAOn October 14, Christopher Headlee, former treasurer of United Government Security Officers of America (UGSOA) Local 50, pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court for the District of Colorado to one count of falsifying records of the Colorado Springs-based union.  The plea follows a probe by the U.S. Labor Department’s Office of Labor-Management Standards.

Pennsylvania Local IBEW President Indicted for Embezzlement

IBEW logoOn October 13, Robin Pirrello, former president of International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local 1637, was indicted in U.S. District Court for the Western District of Pennsylvania on one count of embezzling $22,184 in funds from the Erie-based union.  Prosecutors allege that Ms. Pirrello during October 2010-August 2011 wrote and cashed union checks to herself; obtained unauthorized salary advances after she had left office; obtained unauthorized per diem travel reimbursements; and made unauthorized payments to a business entity.  The indictment follows an investigation by the Labor Department’s Office of Labor-Management Standards.

Bookkeeper for Chicago-Area Ironworkers Local Pleads Guilty

Iron Workers logoOn October 8, Michelle Misso, former bookkeeper for Iron Workers Local 63, pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois to one count of making false entries in the records of the Broadview (suburban Chicago), Ill.-based union to conceal her acts of embezzlement totaling $47,161.  She had been charged in August.  The actions follow a probe by the U.S. Labor Department’s Office of Labor-Management Standards and Office of Inspector General.

Plumbers Secretary in Cleveland Pleads Guilty to Theft

Plumbers logoOn October 26, Heather Banhidy, former office secretary for United Association of Plumbers and Pipefitters Local 120, pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Ohio to one count of embezzlement $13,906 in funds from the Cleveland union.  She had been indicted on August 12 following an investigation by the U.S. Labor Department’s Office of Labor-Management Standards.

Pennsylvania Amends Anti-Stalking Law; Removes 'Labor Dispute' Exemption

Iron Workers logoStalking is ugly behavior.  By intent, it inflicts fear of violence upon another person or persons.  And frequently it is a prelude to actual violence.  Yet in a number of states, such behavior is protected under law if it can be justified as promoting one's interests in a labor dispute.  Pennsylvania, to its credit, is no longer on that list.  Last Thursday, November 5, Democratic Governor Tom Wolf signed a bill into law repealing a loophole that had given unions the right to stalk, harass and even use a “weapon of mass destruction” as an organizing tool.  The new law, in the works for more than two years, applies to employers and unions alike.  Yet on a practical level, its main intent is to discourage union terror at nonunion worksites.  Predictably, the Pennsylvania chapter of the AFL-CIO opposes the measure.

Kentucky Steelworkers Local Employee Indicted for Embezzlement

Steelworkers logoOn October 8, Dawn Colley, former employee of United Steelworkers Local 8-719, was charged in a three-count indictment in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Kentucky for embezzling $7,201 in funds from the Ashland, Ky. union.  The indictment follows an investigation by the U.S. Labor Department’s Office of Labor-Management Standards.

Steelworkers Local Treasurer in Pennsylvania Sentenced for Theft

Steelworkers logoOn October 7, David Deitrick, former financial secretary-treasurer of United Steelworkers Local 10-1338, was sentenced in U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Pennsylvania to two years of probation, and ordered to pay $8,993 in restitution and a $100 special assessment, for embezzling funds from the Shamokin (Northumberland County), Pa.-based union.  Deitrick had pleaded guilty in April following a probe by the U.S. Labor Department’s Office of Labor-Management Standards.

Boston Teamster Sentenced for Unemployment Fraud

Teamsters logoOn September 24, Thomas Flaherty, a former member of International Brotherhood of Teamsters Local 82 (taken over in 2011 by Teamsters Local 25), was sentenced in U.S. District Court for the District of Massachusetts to two years of probation for fraudulently collecting unemployment benefits from the Massachusetts Department of Workforce Development.  He also was ordered to pay $21,011 in restitution and a $1,000 fine.  He had pleaded guilty in June.  Flaherty previously had been accused, along with three other Local 82 members, of running an intimidation racket against participants at Boston trade shows.  He was acquitted in that case, but couldn’t walk in this one.  The plea and sentencing follow a joint investigation by the U.S. Labor Department and the Boston Police Department.

West Virginia Steelworkers President Charged with Embezzlement

Steelworkers logoOn October 6, James Coffey Jr., former president of United Steelworkers Local 5-887, was indicted in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of West Virginia on two counts of embezzling $7,098 in funds from the Newell, W.Va.-based union.  Coffey, 54, a resident of Bergholz, Ohio, allegedly used a union debit card to pay for personal expenses and wrote unauthorized checks to himself from a union bank account.  The indictment follows an investigation by the Labor Department’s Office of Labor-Management Standards.

Steelworkers Local Secretary in Michigan Charged with Theft

United Steelworkers logoOn September 30, Alton Alexander, former financial secretary of United Steelworkers Local 2-479, was charged in the 8th District Court of Kalamazoo County, Michigan, with one count of misdemeanor embezzlement of between $200 and $1,000 from the Plainwell, Mich.-based local.  The charge follows a probe by the Labor Department’s Office of Labor-Management Standards.

Nuclear Power Plant Security Union Steward Pleads Guilty

Seabrook nuclear power plantOn October 2, Gregory Paradis, former chief steward of United Federation of Special Police and Security Officers (UFSPSO) Local 501, pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court for the District of New Hampshire to embezzling $13,493 in funds from the union, which represents workers at the Seabrook, N.H. nuclear power plant.  Paradis had been charged in August following an investigation by the U.S. Labor Department’s Office of Labor-Management Standards.

Washington, D.C.-Area LIUNA Ex-Business Manager, Two Contractors Charged with $1.7M+ in Thefts

LIUNA logoIt’s hard to imagine theft from an American labor union being related to politics in a Arab nation.  But federal prosecutors are convinced they have found a connection.  And that's not the only problem in this case.  Yesterday, on October 28, the FBI and the Labor Department announced the indictment of three Maryland men – Anthony Frederick, Gary Cooper and Christopher Kwegan – for theft, fraud, money laundering, and bribe-taking related to the disappearance of more than $1.7 million from the Washington, D.C.-based Laborers International Union of North America (LIUNA) Local 657.  Frederick is a former business manager of the union; Cooper and Kwegan are co-owners of a Greenbelt, Md.-based construction firm, STS General Contracting.

Michigan AFGE President Pleads Guilty to Making False Statements

AFGE logoOn September 17, Edward Mason, former president of American Federation of Government Employees Local 2274, pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan to one count of making false entries in financial statements of the Saginaw-based union.  The plea follows a probe by the U.S. Labor Department’s Office of Labor-Management Standards and Office of Inspector General.

AFGE President in Maine Pleads Guilty to False Reporting

AFGE logoOn September 14, Mark Durinski, former president of American Federation of Government Employees Local 294, pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court for the District of Maine to three counts of making false statements in annual financial reports in connection with his claims of travel and other expenses for which he already had been reimbursed by his employer, the Defense Finance Accounting Service.  As part of his plea agreement, he also will have to make restitution in the amount of $53,544 to the Limestone, Maine union.  Durinski, now 63, had been charged on August 7.  The actions follow an investigation by the U.S. Labor Department’s Office of Labor-Management Standards.

Vice President of AFGE Local in Minnesota Charged with Theft

AFGE logoOn August 31, Edward Barker, former vice president of American Federation of Government Employees Local 899, was charged in the Hennepin County Court of Minnesota with one count of theft from the Minneapolis-based union in the amount of $1,790 during March 2013-July 2013.  The charge follows an investigation by the U.S. Labor Department’s Office of Labor-Management Standards.

Security Employees Local President in Texas Pleads Guilty to Theft

SPFPA logo On August 27, Cynthia Angulo, former president of the Currency and Security Handlers Association, pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Texas to one count of embezzling $61,200 in funds from the Houston-based union, an affiliate of the Security, Police and Fire Professionals of America (SPFPA).  The plea follows a probe by the Labor Department’s Office of Labor-Management Standards.

Arizona Court of Appeals Curbs Public-Sector Union 'Release Time'

Conducting union business and performing employment duties are two activities that don’t, and shouldn’t, overlap.  Yet in a number of jurisdictions, taxpayers are being forced to pay for both.  In Arizona, at least, this trend has hit a detour.  This August, the Arizona Court of Appeals, affirming a lower court decision, ruled that a Memorandum of Understanding forcing the City of Phoenix to compensate local cops for union activity, while not necessarily violating the state constitution’s Gift Clause, imposed grossly excessive costs.  This was a significant, if incomplete victory for public accountability.  And further pushback against release time clauses is occurring in courts and legislatures across the nation. 

Former Detroit Police Union Vice President Sentenced for Fraud

Downtown DetroitCorruption ran rampant in Detroit during the tenure of Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick, now serving a 28-year sentence in federal prison.  Many people as well as Kilpatrick have paid a high price.  One of them was Paul Stewart.  On September 29, Stewart, former vice president of the Detroit Police Officers Association and trustee of the police pension fund, was sentenced in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan to 57 months in prison and three years of supervised release for conspiracy to commit honest services fraud through bribes and kickbacks.  He also must pay restitution of a sum yet to be determined.  Stewart had been convicted by a jury last December.  The actions follow a joint probe by the FBI, the IRS, and the U.S. Labor Department’s Office of Labor-Management Standards and Office of Inspector General.

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