Union Corruption Update

SEIU Local Secretary-Treasurer in Ohio Sentenced

Service Employees logoOn October 23, Rena Opre, former secretary-treasurer for Service Employees International Union Local 323, was sentenced in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Ohio to paying a $250 fine and a $25 special assessment for falsifying financial records of the Chicago-based union. Opre, a resident of Toledo, had pleaded guilty in May after being charged in March. The actions follow an investigation by the Labor Department's Office of Labor-Management Standards.

Postal Workers Treasurer in South Dakota Indicted for Embezzlement

APWU logoOn November 4, Susan Haugen, former treasurer of the South Dakota chapter of the American Postal Workers Union (APWU), was charged in U.S. District Court for the District of South Dakota with three counts of embezzling $36,309 in funds from the Huron, S.D.-based union. According to the grand jury indictment, Haugen, now 55, during May 2010-March 2014 made about $25,000 in unauthorized cash withdrawals and spent another $11,000 with the union credit and debit cards, all for personal expenses. The charges follow a probe by the Labor Department's Office of Labor-Management Standards.

BLET Secretary in Chicago Charged with Records Fraud; Pleads Guilty

BLET logoOn November 3, Kimberly Hesla, former secretary-treasurer of the Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers and Trainmen Division 474, pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois to falsifying financial records of the Chicago union. She had been charged a week earlier on October 27. The actions follow an investigation by the U.S. Labor Department's Office of Labor-Management Standards.

Maintenance of Way Secretary in Kansas City, Mo. Pleads Guilty

Maintenance of WayBrotherhood of Maintenance of Way Employees Lodge 800 is almost depleted of its funds.  And that has a lot to do with the employee who not too long ago handled them. On October 29, Jeremy Bolte, formerly lodge secretary-treasurer, was charged in U.S. District Court for the Western District of Missouri with embezzling more than $12,000 from the Kansas City, Mo. union. He then pleaded guilty to 10 counts of embezzlement. The actions follow a probe by the U.S. Labor Department's Office of Labor-Management Standards. The union represents Kansas City-area employees of BNSF Railway.

New Jersey ILA Building Contractor Sentenced for Fraud

Longshoremen at workRaymond Norville was a home renovation contractor. Somehow he took that to mean a right to take client money without necessarily doing renovations. On November 18, Norville, owner of an Essex County, N.J.-based construction firm, RRL Unique Homes Inc., was sentenced in Trenton federal court to 14 months in prison, plus three years of supervised release and full payment of restitution, for defrauding a customer in New York City of nearly $100,000 in connection with a residential remodeling project. As part of a plea agreement in June, prosecutors dismissed charges that Norville defrauded the Newark-based International Longshoremen's Association Local 1233 of at least $100,000. Norville was lucky. Evidence strongly suggests his union thefts totaled around $370,000.

AFGE Local President in Tennessee Charged with Fraud

AFGE logoOn October 15, Shiryll Durham, former president of American Federation of Government Employees Local 1687, was charged in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Tennessee with two counts of mail fraud totaling $2,651 against the Mountain Home (a section of Johnson City), Tenn. union. The indictment follows an investigation by the U.S. Labor Department's Office of Labor-Management Standards.

Denver-Area AFGE Local Secretary-Treasurer Pleads Guilty

AFGE logoOn October 14, Aide Spade, former secretary-treasurer of American Federation of Government Employees Local 709, pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court for the District of Colorado to one count of entering false statements in financial records of the Littleton union to conceal her thefts. The union represents employees of the Colorado state prison system. Spade had been indicted on four separate counts in June following an investigation by the Labor Department's Office of Labor-Management Standards.

Steelworkers Ramp Up Oil Industry Bargaining; Prepare for a Strike

oil workersWith gasoline prices falling by at least 40 percent since June, consumers are feeling fairly chipper lately. For a different reason, so is the United Steelworkers. The Pittsburgh-based union, with 860,000 active members, is preparing for oil industry contract talks next month in light. And one of the topics sure to come up is the rise of cost-saving drilling technologies and the desire by the USW to share in some of the profit. Members earlier this month voted on whether to ratify proposals developed at the USW National Oil Bargaining conference in late October, though no word has been available as to the outcome. Vice President Tom Conway notes: "The oil industry continues to earn billions of dollars in profits and can well afford these proposals."

Kansas City, Mo. AFSCME President Pleads Guilty to Fraud

AFSCME logoOn October 7, Jesse Morgan, former president of American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) Local 1707, pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court for the Western District of Missouri to one count of wire fraud against the Kansas City, Mo. union. He had been indicted in February on 29 counts of fraud in connection with his embezzlement of at least $185,000 in union funds during his four years at the helm. The actions follow an investigation by the U.S. Labor Department's Office of Labor-Management Standards.

Bakery Workers Office Assistant in Denver Sentenced for Embezzlement

Bakery Workers logoOn October 9, Mary Grace Gossett, former office assistant for Bakery, Confectionery, Tobacco Workers & Grain Millers Local 24, was sentenced in U.S. District Court for the District of Colorado to five years of probation, and ordered to pay $41,622 in restitution and a $300 assessment, for embezzling funds from the Denver-based union. She had pleaded guilty in July after being charged in May. The actions follow a probe by the Labor Department's Office of Labor-Management Standards.

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