Eric Givens' job was to keep order on the nation’s passenger railroad. Unfortunately, he thought it also included stealing union money. On June 24, Givens, former secretary-treasurer of Fraternal Order of Police (FOP) Lodge 189 and the Amtrak Police Labor Committee, pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York to one count of embezzling at least $100,000 from the New York-based labor organizations. Givens, an Amtrak police officer, had been arrested and charged last June with one count each of wire fraud, embezzlement and making a false statement, and indicted three weeks later. The actions follow an investigation by the U.S.
Leslie Hoffman has jumped off boats, fallen down stairs, and involved herself in more car crashes than she would like to remember. But when it comes to receiving compensation from her Screen Actors Guild (SAG) Pension and Health Plan, the former movie and TV stuntwoman can’t buy a break. A federal appeals court over a year ago ordered plan administrators to reconsider their denial of her injury claims, but she has yet to receive a dime. Articles in the June 18 and June 24 issues of Deadline Hollywood have highlighted her travails, noting her case may be a turning point in the way SAG and its affiliate union, the American Federation of Television and Radio Artists (AFTRA), treat stunt performers. “It’s a disgrace,” says Hoffman’s lawyer, Charles Fleishman. “She worked her whole life, and then nobody wants to be bothered with her.”
Teachers unions during the past decade have known their share of scandal. Add the case of Wayne Wedderman Jr. to the list. This Monday, June 29, Wedderman, treasurer of the Barnegat Education Association, pleaded guilty in Ocean County, New Jersey Superior Court to theft from the union. He had been arrested last November for stealing roughly a combined $23,000 from two union accounts in the wake of a county probe begun the previous month. A grand jury in February subsequently indicted Wedderman on two counts of theft and one count of computer theft. Sentencing is scheduled for September.
On June 12, Nathan McCallister, former secretary-treasurer of Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers and Trainmen Division 101, pleaded guilty in the Circuit Court of Summers County, West Virginia to one count of embezzlement in an amount of more than $1,000 from the Hinton, W.Va. union. McCallister had been charged in March following an investigation by the U.S. Labor Department’s Office of Labor-Management Standards.
On June 16, Timothy Casperson, former treasurer of National Association of Letter Carriers Branch 249, was indicted in U.S. District Court for the Western District of Michigan for embezzling $9,650 from the Menominee, Mich.-based union and falsifying financial records to conceal the thefts. The indictment follows a probe by the Labor Department’s Office of Labor-Management Standards.
On June 11, Pamela Nessen, former president of American Postal Workers Union (APWU) Local 286, pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Indiana to one count of embezzling funds from the Fort Wayne union in the amount of $58,598. Nessen, who headed the APWU local during November 2009-November 2013, had turned herself into police in January after being indicted by a grand jury last November. She originally had pleaded not guilty. The indictment and guilty plea follow an investigation by the Labor Department’s Office of Labor-Management Standards.
On June 8, Rodney Horne, former secretary-treasurer of United Government Security Officers of America (UGSOA) Local 34, pleaded guilty in the Circuit Court for Prince George’s County, Maryland to one count of theft from the Washington, D.C.-based union. He then received a sentence of five years of imprisonment, all of which was suspended, and 36 months of unsupervised probation, and ordered to pay $6,045 in restitution. The plea and sentence follow a joint investigation by the U.S. Labor Department’s Office of Labor-Management Standards and the Prince George’s County Police Department.
On June 11, Marcia Shull, former financial secretary of United Auto Workers Local 661, was sentenced in the Circuit Court of Hancock County, Indiana to 180 days of house arrest and 550 days of probation for felony forgery from the Greenfield, Ind.-based union. She also will have to pay $168 in fines and costs on top of the $18,250 she already has paid. Shull had pleaded guilty in May after being charged last September following a probe by the U.S. Labor Department’s Office of Labor-Management Standards.
For about six years, Helen Herold-Roden had mastered the art of stealing from her union. But it’s hard to beat the law of averages. Last Thursday, June 18, Herold-Roden, former secretary-treasurer of Communications Workers of America Local 7603, pleaded guilty (pre-indictment) in U.S. District Court for the District of Idaho to one count of embezzling $138,658 in funds from the Meridian, Idaho-based union, which represents employees of area telecom companies such as AT&T and Century Link. The guilty plea follows an investigation by the U.S. Labor Department’s Office of Labor-Management Standards. Sentencing is scheduled for September 8.
Whether one sees New Jersey Governor Chris Christie as confronting or punting, it’s hard to deny he knows a crisis when he sees one. The State Supreme Court sees one as well. On June 9, the Court ruled 5-2 that Christie was within bounds in delaying two years of contributions, nearly $2.5 billion, to the state’s chronically underfunded public-employee pension system. The ruling, a clear blow to the unions who brought forth the suit, for now averts a fiscal calamity. Critics claim that Christie, expected shortly to enter the Republican presidential race, broke a law he signed in 2011, passing the buck to his successors. Supporters counter that the ruling gives the legislature breathing room to fix a condition resulting from years of excessive union contract demands. The latter is a familiar story in other states, too.