On June 8, Jeffrey Velfing and John Crosby, respectively, former chief steward and former assistant steward of National Postal Mail Handlers Union Local 307, each pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court for the Western District of Michigan to one count of embezzling funds in the amount of $6,758 from the Detroit-based union. The pair had been indicted in April. The charges and guilty pleas follow an investigation by the U.S. Postal Service’s Office of Inspector General and the U.S. Labor Department’s Office of Labor-Management Standards and Office of Inspector General.
On May 3, Marcella Champion, former secretary-treasurer of American Federation of Government Employees Local 1831, pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia to one count of theft in the amount of $4,130 from the Washington, D.C.-based federal security employees union. She had been charged last November. The actions follow a probe by the Labor Department’s Office of Labor-Management Standards.
On May 5, Gregory Hill, former vice president of United Auto Workers Local 2297, was sentenced in U.S. District Court for the Western District of Louisiana to four years of probation, and ordered to pay $12,232 in restitution, for forging checks in an account in the name of the Shreveport union. Hill, along with another Local 2297 member, Danny Rawls, had been indicted in March 2015 on nine counts each. Hill pleaded guilty this January to one count of uttering and forgery in the amount of $581. Rawls already had pleaded guilty last September and was sentenced this February. The actions follow an investigation by the U.S. Labor Department’s Office of Labor-Management Standards.
It wasn’t as if Norman Seabrook needed the money. But in accepting it, he jeopardized the retirement of union members. Last Wednesday, June 8, Seabrook, president of New York City’s Correction Officers Benevolent Association (COBA), was arrested by FBI agents and charged with honest services fraud for receiving $60,000 in cash from an executive of a troubled Manhattan hedge fund, Platinum Partners, in exchange for steering $20 million in union pension money to the fund. Platinum Partners CEO Murray Huberfeld was similarly charged. Seabrook is out on $250,000 bond, but given his ouster by the COBA board, he doesn’t have much to do. U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara (in photo) termed this “a straightforward and explicit bribery scheme.” The actions are part of a wider probe into NYPD corruption.
Raul Mascote is a good example of the expression, “There’s a lot more where that came from.” On April 14, Mascote, former secretary-treasurer of International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers Lodge 2458, pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois to one count of embezzling funds in the amount of $62,263 from the Minooka (near Joliet)-based union. He had been charged last July following a joint investigation by the U.S. Labor Department’s Office of Labor-Management Standards and the U.S. Energy Department’s Office of Inspector General. Prosecutors had alleged Mascote knowingly had converted $510,973 worth of U.S.-government property to his personal use. This latter sum was not reflected in the original charge. However, pursuant to federal guidelines, it will be considered in determining his sentence.
For 17 years, Raymond Fujii routed client money to his own pockets. But the deception couldn’t be maintained forever. On May 13, Fujii, formerly executive director for the Painting & Decorating Contractors Association of Hawaii, was sentenced in U.S. District Court for the District of Hawaii to 42 months in prison, to be followed by three years of supervised release, for conducting an elaborate fraud scheme against the association and a related Painters union entity, the Hawaii Painters Trade Promotion & Charity Fund, that totaled nearly $1.5 million. He also had been charged with federal income tax evasion. Fujii had pleaded guilty on January 27, one week after being charged. The actions follow a joint probe by the IRS and the U.S. Labor Department’s Office of Labor-Management Standards.
On April 6, Robert Tuttle Jr., former president of International Brotherhood of Teamsters Local 173, pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Florida to making false entries in financial records of the Bradenton-based union for the purpose of concealing his embezzlement of about $11,275. He had been indicted last December on four counts of embezzlement totaling $4,857 and one count of false record-keeping. The actions follow an investigation by the U.S. Labor Department’s Office of Labor-Management Standards.
On April 6, James Coffey, former president of United Steelworkers Local 5-887, was sentenced in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of West Virginia to two years of probation for embezzling funds from the Newell, W.Va.-based union in the amount of $6,260. He already paid $7,419 in restitution prior to sentencing. Coffey had pleaded guilty in January after being indicted last October for embezzling $7,098. The actions follow an investigation by the Labor Department’s Office of Labor-Management Standards.
On April 5, Daniel Ternitsky, former financial secretary of United Mine Workers Local 285, was indicted in U.S. District Court for the Western District of Pennsylvania on one count of embezzling $10,680 in funds from the Allison, Pa.-based union. The indictment follows an investigation by the U.S. Labor Department’s Office of Labor-Management Standards.
At United Steelworkers Local 13-669, theft apparently is a family affair. On April 5, Jason Leach and Jeremy Leach, respectively, president and secretary-treasurer of the Pryor Creek (northeast of Tulsa), Okla. union, were indicted in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Oklahoma for acts of theft. Jason Leach, 32, a resident of Locust Grove, was charged with nine counts of embezzling $2,524; his brother, Jeremy Leach, 35, also a resident of Locust Grove, was charged with 12 counts of embezzling $3,111. The indictments follow a probe by the U.S. Labor Department’s Office of Labor-Management Standards.