A debit card can be highly convenient, especially if the name on the card refers to a deceased individual. William Davis has found out such a practice carries a downside. On October 23, federal prosecutors announced the indictment of Davis, ex-president of American Federation of Government Employees Local 1119, in U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York on one count of wire fraud and two counts of making false financial statements in the theft of more than $120,000 in union funds. The union represents about 300 employees at the VA Hudson Valley Health Care System’s FDR campus in Montrose, N.Y. (Westchester County). The charges follow a joint probe by the Labor Department’s Office of Labor-Management Standards and the Department of Veterans Affairs’ Office of Inspector General.
For Stephanie Hicks, the bill for more than a half-decade of thefts has come due. Last Tuesday, November 17, Hicks, former president of American Federation of Government Employees Local 2207, was sentenced in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Alabama to six months in federal prison, plus six months of home detention, for embezzling more than $92,000 from the union, which represents employees at the Birmingham VA Hospital. Hicks had pleaded guilty to bank fraud and forgery in June after being indicted for embezzling over $132,000. The actions follow a joint investigation by the Department of Veterans Affairs and the Department of Labor.
For a while, Richard “Buzzy” Dressel wasn't certain whether he would be headed for some prison time. He's a little 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 diverting hundreds of thousands of funds from the Paramus, N.J.-based union and its job training fund. In reversing U.S. District Court Judge William Martini’s decision of April 2014 that 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.
On 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.
On 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.
On 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.
On October 8, Michelle Misso, former bookkeeper for Ironworkers 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.
On 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.
Stalking 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 union terror at nonunion worksites. Predictably, the Pennsylvania chapter of the AFL-CIO opposes the measure.
On 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.