David M. Lewis for a while seemed as resourceful in his billing as he was in his drilling. But in the end, the Sacramento dentist was too clever by a half. On January 11, Lewis pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of California to defrauding a Teamster-sponsored health care plan for United Parcel Service employees out of at least $1 million in unnecessary or nonexistent work. He had been indicted on 18 counts in February 2014 following a probe by the U.S. Labor Department’s Office of Inspector General and Employee Benefits Security Administration, plus the California Attorney General’s Office and Dental Board. A former Lewis employee, Nichol (Ramirez) Lomack, earlier had pled guilty.
On March 14, Timothy Casperson, former treasurer of National Association of Letter Carriers Branch 249, was sentenced in U.S. District Court for the Western District of Michigan to one year of probation for embezzling $9,650 in funds from the Menominee (Upper Peninsula) union. He also was ordered to complete 200 hours of community service, and to pay a $500 fine and a $100 special assessment. Casperson already has paid restitution in the amount of $10,062. Casperson pleaded guilty last December following his indictment last June. The actions follow a probe by the Labor Department’s Office of Labor-Management Standards.
On March 10, Esther LaFontant, former bookkeeper for United Association of Plumbers & Pipefitters Local 12, was charged in Suffolk County (Mass.) Superior Court with three counts of theft totaling approximately $155,000 from the Boston-based union. She also was charged with falsifying entries in the books of her accounting firm. The charges follow a joint investigation by the U.S. Labor Department’s Office of Labor-Management Standards and the Massachusetts State Police.
Patrick Santeramo’s union career ended several years ago, but the fallout continues. On April 22, Santeramo, who had run the Broward Teachers Union for a decade, was sentenced in Fort Lauderdale federal court to 18 months in prison, to be followed by two years of supervised release, for wire fraud in a school district-funded, union-run program. He also was ordered to pay $93,800 in restitution and a $4,000 fine. The prison term will run consecutive to a five-year sentence handed down days earlier in a state case involving allegations of contractor kickbacks and false reimbursements. Santeramo was convicted in January by a jury in the state case; he pleaded guilty in February in the federal case. The actions follow a probe by the U.S. Labor Department’s Office of Inspector General.
Like any businessman, Steven Pagliarini wanted to minimize his labor costs. But he also shortchanged laborers in the process. On April 15, Pagliarini, an executive of two Rhode Island landscaping and nursery firms, one union and the other nonunion, was sentenced in Providence federal court to three years of probation for conducting a scheme for avoiding payment of scheduled benefits to union employees. In addition, he concealed the employment status of nonunion workers from a state agency so as to pay employees with unemployment checks. The information had contained four charges – three for document falsification and one for wire fraud. As part of his sentence, he must pay restitution totaling $171,695.22. Pagliarini pled guilty on January 28 after announcing his intent to do so on January 4.
On March 15, Kenneth Potter, former treasurer of the South Dakota chapter of National Staff Organization, was indicted in U.S. District Court for the District of South Dakota for embezzling $4,130 in funds from the Pierre, S.D.-based union. The indictment follows a probe by the Labor Department’s Office of Labor-Management Standards. National Staff Organization, based in Lincoln, Neb., represents several thousand personnel in a wide range of unions.
On March 24, Terry Aters, former treasurer of United Steelworkers Local 7686, pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Missouri to one count of embezzling $153,434 in funds from the Marston, Mo.-based union. Aters had been indicted last October. The actions follow a probe by the U.S. Labor Department’s Office of Labor-Management Standards.
Say this for Charles Burke: He’s making amends. On April 6, Burke, former treasurer of Utility Workers Union of America (UWUA) Local 365, pleaded guilty in Nassau County (N.Y.) District Court to stealing more than $111,000 in funds from the Valley Stream, N.Y.-based union, which represents employees of American Water. While he could receive up to a year in jail at his June 13 sentencing, it’s not likely. The plea deal calls for three years of probation with no jail time. Burke had been arraigned a month earlier. The actions follow an investigation by the U.S. Labor Department’s Office of Labor-Management Standards.
Labor unions in this country are engines of egalitarian policy and its most potent political vehicle, the Democratic Party. As the party platform heavily overlaps with that of demagogic black identity politicians, most of all, Al Sharpton, labor leaders have become prominent supporters of Sharpton and his New York-based nonprofit, National Action Network (NAN). The bond was very much in evidence at Manhattan’s Sheraton Times Square Hotel last Friday afternoon on a discussion panel, “The State of American Labor Unions Today,” one of nearly 30 held during the NAN annual convention of April 13-16. Despite a couple of key no-shows, the speakers gave the mostly black crowd what it wanted: a rousing call for union organizing, welfare state expansion and "anti-racist" activism.
On March 11, Patrick Cunningham, former secretary-treasurer of Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers and Trainmen (BLET) Division 229, was charged in the Justice’s Court of Union Township, County of Humboldt, Nevada, with one count of theft of funds in an undisclosed sum from the Winnemucca union. The charge follows an investigation by the U.S. Labor Department’s Office of Labor-Management Standards.