On November 15, Ronald Karr, former treasurer of International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local 2359, was charged in U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Ohio with embezzling funds in the approximate amount of $158,150 from the Sugar Grove, Ohio union. The charge follows a probe by the U.S. Labor Department's Office of Labor-Management Standards.
On November 14, Jason Brown, former shop chairman of Communications Workers of America Local 87140, was charged in Hennepin County (Minn.) Court with one count of theft of $3,905 from the Minneapolis union during September-December 2012. He isn't the first official of Local 87140 with legal problems. In November 2012, Dennis Earley, former local financial secretary, pleaded guilty in Hennepin County Court for stealing more than $5,000 from the union and was sentenced immediately thereafter. The charge against Brown follows an investigation by the U.S. Labor Department's Office of Labor-Management Standards.
On December 12, Mark Whetstone, former president of American Federation of Government Employees (AFGE) Local 3928 and AFGE Leadership Council 119, was charged in the Criminal Court of Lancaster County, Nebraska, with theft by deception in an amount of more than $1,500 from the Lincoln, Neb.-based local. The leadership council is based in Humble (near Houston), Texas. The charge follows a probe by the Labor Department's Office of Labor-Management Standards.
Danny Hubbard headed his union for two years. That proved to be enough time to generate a substantial illegal side income. On November 20, Hubbard, former president of American Federation of Government Employees Local 1380, was sentenced in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Florida to 30 months in prison for stealing more than $90,000 from the Panama City, Fla. union, and was ordered to pay full restitution. He had pleaded guilty to wire fraud in August after being charged in November 2012. The union represents Naval Support Activity employees in Panama City.
On December 17, Calvin Sanders, former president of United Food and Commercial Workers Local 638C, was sentenced in U.S. District Court for the Western District of Louisiana to three years of probation and ordered to pay $24,028 in restitution, plus a $100 special assessment, for embezzling funds from the Lafayette, La.-based union. Sanders had been charged last August with making unauthorized withdrawals from the local general and strike funds. He pleaded guilty at that hearing. The actions follow an investigation by the U.S. Labor Department's Office of Labor-Management Standards.
Though union membership as a share of American workers continues its long decline, union officials in 2013 showed they're not the sort to stand on the sidelines, especially in the legal realm. Organized labor was unusually active last year in using the courts and Congress to press their interests. Their ultimate weapon: immigration amnesty/surge legislation. Eight members of the Senate, four from each party ("the Gang of Eight"), solicited advice exclusively from supporters of open borders in hopes of achieving their idea of "comprehensive reform." The Senators unveiled the measure in April and passed it by 68-32 in June, Yet the bill, deservedly, has stalled in the House. Drafted in secret, with no hearings or debate, it represents a corruption of the political process.
It's one of the oldest forms of corruption: a union official accepts a bribe from an employer in exchange for an assurance the workplace will remain nonunion. Michael Townsend believed, wrongly, he could avoid detection. On Monday, December 23, Townsend, a former business agent and trustee of International Brotherhood of Teamsters Local 337, pleaded guilty in Detroit federal court to conspiracy in connection to receiving illegal cash payments from an official of the Detroit-based LaGrasso Brothers Produce Inc. and promising, in turn, not to organize employees. The company, having already pleaded guilty last January and facing a heavy fine, had agreed to cooperate with the U.S. Labor Department in its investigation. Sentencing for Townsend is set for March 24.
On December 10, the Tioga County Sheriff's Office arrested Amy Wales, treasurer of the Owego-Apalachin Employees Association, for embezzling funds from the Owego (near Binghamton), N.Y. independent union. Wales, 45, a longtime secretary in the athletic department of the local public school system, allegedly used her union position as a license to steal more than $51,000 from the union during June 2012-June 2013. Following her arrest, she was charged with grand larceny in Village of Owego Court and released on her own recognizance. The actions follow a complaint by the union president and a subsequent three-month sheriff's investigation.
On December 6, Cedric Hughes, former treasurer for Service Employees International Union Local 721, was indicted in U.S. District Court for the Central District of California on five counts of wire fraud and one count of embezzlement of $15,194 in funds from the Los Angeles union. Hughes, who served in his position during March 2009-June 2010, wrote unauthorized union checks to himself and made unauthorized cash withdrawals and debit card transactions with his union debit card. The indictment follows an investigation by the U.S. Labor Department's Office of Labor-Management Standards.
On December 3, Kristie McClarren, former financial secretary-treasurer of United Auto Workers Local 3061, was charged in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Ohio with embezzling $152,639 in funds from the Crestline (near Mansfield), Ohio-based union, which represents employees at the Pittsburgh Glass Works plant in nearby Shelby. The charge follows a joint probe by the Labor Department's Office of Labor-Management Standards and Office of Inspector General.