On January 4, Anne Susan, former business manager of Laborers International Union of North America Local 1386, pleaded guilty in Maricopa County, Arizona Superior Court to theft, identity theft and forgery. She had been charged with a 24-count indictment last October 5. Charged in a 29-count indictment the same day for forgery and other offenses was former Local 1386 treasurer Therlen Benally. The union is based in Phoenix. The actions follow an investigation by the U.S. Labor Department’s Office of Labor-Management Standards.
On September 30, Maria Del Cupolo, former bookkeeper for International Association of Operative Plasterers & Cement Masons Local 300, pleaded guilty in the Superior Court of California, County of Alameda, to one count of theft from the Oakland union. She then was sentenced to five years of probation and was ordered to pay restitution in the amount of $96,842. Following this sentence, on December 2, she received an additional one-year sentence in Alameda County jail. Del Cupolo had been charged in January 2015 with five counts of grand theft in an amount exceeding $65,000, plus four counts of money-laundering. The actions follow a probe by the U.S. Labor Department’s Office of Labor-Management Standards.
At least Helen Genal is remorseful. On January 25, Genal, former secretary-treasurer of the Fox Valley Area Community Action Program, a project of the United Auto Workers, was sentenced in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Wisconsin to six months in prison for embezzling $29,968 from the Oshkosh-based labor organization. She pled guilty last November after being charged in July with one count each of embezzlement and making a false statement in union records. The actions follow a probe by the Labor Department’s Office of Labor-Management Standards.
Anyone who believes corruption in Detroit dissipated after the multiple convictions several years ago of former Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick should take a hard look at International Union of Operating Engineers Local 324. On December 16, John Hamilton, business manager-general vice president of the Detroit union during 2003-12, was indicted by a federal grand jury on nine counts relating to various schemes of self-enrichment at the expense of rank and file. The indictment, the result of a multi-agency probe, accuses Hamilton of extortion, restructuring, money-laundering, embezzlement and honest services fraud. The charges shed light not only on Hamilton’s relationship with Mayor Kilpatrick, but at least as importantly, his relationship with convicted financial manager John Orecchio, no stranger to these pages.
On December 18, Sharon Williams-Savage, former president of American Federation of Government Employees Local 2425, was indicted in the Superior Court of the City of Clifton, New Jersey on two counts of misapplication of entrusted property exceeding $1,000 and one count of unlawful taking of property exceeding $500. AFGE Local 2425 is based in East Orange, N.J., adjacent to Newark. The indictment follows a joint investigation by the U.S. Labor Department’s Office of Labor-Management Standards and the New Jersey State Criminal Division.
On December 15, Dawn Colley, former office employee of United Steelworkers Local 8-719, pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Kentucky to concealing her theft of funds from the Ashland, Ky. union. She then was sentenced to two years of probation and ordered to pay $4,200 in restitution, on top of the $7,446 she previously had paid, plus a $25 special assessment. Colley had been indicted in October for embezzling $7,201. The actions follow a probe by the U.S. Labor Department’s Office of Labor-Management Standards.
On December 10, Jerry Vincent, formerly president of International Brotherhood of Teamsters Local 783, was sentenced in U.S. District Court for the Western District of Kentucky to six months of home confinement and three years of probation for embezzling $17,272.84 from the Louisville union. He also was ordered to pay $22,251 in restitution, a sum representing an unearned vacation advance as well as the stolen funds. Vincent had pleaded guilty last August to one count of embezzlement and 13 counts of falsifying union records following his July 2014 indictment. The actions follow an investigation by the U.S. Labor Department’s Office of Labor-Management Standards.
As in 2014, union leaders last year directed much of their energies toward maximizing political and legal advantage. And they scored tangible victories. President Barack Obama, now in his last year in office, is without question the best White House friend of organized labor in decades. Among other things, unions won major cases before the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB), with its built-in 3-2 Democratic Party majority. And the Teamsters achieved its long-sought goal of release from federal control established following a 1989 civil racketeering settlement. Yet organized labor also experienced its share of setbacks, especially in the courts. And they received lots of unwanted exposure for embezzlement and fraud. As far as rank and file members are concerned, the most pressing problem is the growing possibility that their pension plans will be depleted.
Considering the nature of his offenses, Juan “Alex” Cedeno should consider himself fortunate. On December 10, Cedeno, former president of United Steelworkers Local 4-318, was sentenced in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of New York to three years of probation and 250 hours of community service for concealing his thefts from the Queens, N.Y. union, which since has moved to Edison, N.J. He also was ordered to pay $33,583 in restitution and a $25 special assessment. Cedeno had pled guilty last March after being arrested and charged in May 2014. The actions follow a probe by the U.S. Labor Department’s Office of Labor-Management Standards and Employee Benefits Security Administration.
Howard Royal stole from his state employees union. Now he owes some time to his state. On December 14, Royal, former president of United Government Security Officers of America (UGSOA) Local 304, was sentenced in U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Pennsylvania to six months of house arrest followed by six months of supervised probation for wire fraud in connection with thefts of $66,982.02 from the Harrisburg union. He had pleaded guilty last July. The actions follow an investigation by the Labor Department’s Office of Labor-Management Standards.