Utility Workers of America Local 475 must be having a tough time finding a few honest men. On July 16, John Vetterly, Jr., former president of the Rochester (Beaver County), Pa.-based union was sentenced in U.S. District Court for the Western District of Pennsylvania to nine months of house arrest and five years of probation for embezzling $26,605 in funds from its coffers. He also was ordered to pay restitution, plus interest and a fine of 10 percent of the embezzled funds. Vetterly had pleaded guilty in March after being indicted last October. Unfortunately, another former Local 475 president, Michael Trembulak, had a similar problem. Less than two weeks later, on July 29, Trembulak was indicted on one count of embezzling $31,528 in union funds during April 19, 2012-September 18, 2012. The actions in each case follow an investigation by the U.S. Labor Department's Office of Labor-Management Standards.
On July 8, Cynthia Collins, former secretary-treasurer of American Postal Workers Union Local 12, was indicted in U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Georgia with embezzling funds from the Athens, Ga.-based union in the amount of $23,345 and concealing the thefts in union financial records. The indictment follows an investigation by the U.S. Labor Department's Office of Labor-Management Standards.
Sheron Gibson had built an excellent reputation over the years. Apparently, he also was willing to undermine it. On June 25, Gibson, a longtime firefighter with the City of Suffolk, Virginia, was indicted in a state circuit court on 12 counts of embezzlement and one count of forgery following his arrest for the theft of at least $50,000, and likely more than $100,000, from the union where he served as treasurer, Local 2801 of the International Association of Fire Fighters (IAFF). Following his arrest, he was released on a $2,500 bond.
When does being employed by a contractor also mean being employed by the corporation with whom it contracts? The National Labor Relations Board currently is reviewing this issue in a potential landmark case. If the board rules in favor of a Teamsters local in California, unions everywhere could have a powerful organizing weapon. The union had filed a petition back in July 2013 to represent workers at a San Francisco Bay Area recycling plant. A labor contractor, Leadpoint Business Services, handles hiring, wages and other personnel issues at the plant on behalf of the plant owner, Browning-Ferris Industries (BFI) of California Inc. The union wants the board to classify Leadpoint and BFI as a dual employer for collective bargaining purposes.
The union representing security employees of Amtrak, the nation's federally-chartered rail passenger corporation, was missing funds. It didn't have far to look for the source of the problem. On June 24, Eric Givens, a longtime Amtrak police officer, was charged in U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York with one count each of wire fraud, embezzlement and making a false statement related to his alleged theft of at least $100,000 in funds from the Amtrak Police Labor Committee, and a Fraternal Order of Police affiliate, each of which he had served as treasurer. He had been arrested earlier that day. Three weeks later, on July 15, he was indicted by a grand jury. The actions follow an investigation by the Labor Department's Office of Labor-Management Standards and Office of Inspector General, and the Amtrak Police Department's Office of Internal Affairs.
On June 26, Harold Ray, former secretary of National Association of Letter Carriers (NALC) Branch 469 and the NALC Alabama State Association, was sentenced in U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Alabama to two months in prison and three years of supervised release for embezzling funds from the two labor organizations, located, respectively, in Mobile and Birmingham. He also was ordered to pay combined restitution in the amount of $31,954 plus a $100 special assessment. Ray had been indicted in January for embezzling $38,565; he pled guilty in March. The actions follow a probe by the U.S. Labor Department's Office of Labor-Management Standards.
On June 13, David Lynch, former president and treasurer of National Association of Letter Carriers Branch 383, was indicted in the McCracken County, Kentucky Circuit Court for theft of more than $10,000 in funds from the Paducah-based union. The indictment follows an investigation by the Labor Department's Office of Labor-Management Standards.
On May 14, Timothy Gamble, former president of United Steelworkers Local 378, was charged in U.S. District Court for the District of South Carolina with embezzling $9,345 in funds from the Aynor (near Myrtle Beach) union during May 2010-May 2013. The charge follows an investigation by the U.S. Labor Department's Office of Labor-Management Standards.
On June 12, Dianna Woodall was sentenced in U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia to three years of supervised probation and 100 hours of community service for participating in a scheme to cash a $9,836 counterfeit check drawn on a bank account of Marine Engineers Beneficial Association (MEBA) District 1, based in Washington, D.C. She also was ordered to pay full restitution. Woodall had pleaded guilty in March after being charged earlier than month. Another individual, Kenneth Marshall Jr., also had pleaded guilty in March to cashing two counterfeit checks totaling $18,851 drawn on that MEBA account. A union spokesman informed NLPC at the time that neither was a union member. The sentencing of Woodall follows a joint probe by the FBI and the U.S. Labor Department's Office of Labor-Management Standards and Office of Inspector General.
On June 3, Aide Spade, former secretary-treasurer of American Federation of Government Employees Local 709, was indicted in U.S. District Court for the District of Colorado on four counts of concealing union disbursements to her. The Littleton-based union represents employees of the Colorado state prison system. The indictment comes six years after an audit by the Labor Department's Office of Labor-Management Standards (see pdf) showed a lack of documentation by Spade of credit card and other supposedly union-related expenses.