When Bruce Dow resigned under pressure as longtime head of the Screen Actors Guild’s pension and health plans in April 2012 amid allegations of extensive self-dealing, a good deal of unfinished business remained. Now the workload has gotten smaller. On November 12, former plan chief information officer Nader Karimi pleaded guilty in Los Angeles federal court to omitting more than $700,000 in income on his tax returns for the years 2005 through 2008. Karimi had changed his “not guilty” plea to “guilty” before U.S. District Judge Fernando Olguin. Sentencing, originally set for March 11, has been reset for April 14. He faces up to three years in prison. The plea follows a probe by the FBI, the IRS, and the Labor Department’s Office of Inspector General and Employee Benefits Security Administration.
Educators have been responsible for some of the more flagrant cases of union corruption in recent years. Patrick Santeramo, for one, doesn’t need any reminders of that. On January 20, Santeramo, former president of the Broward Teachers Union, the Broward County, Florida affiliate of the American Federation of Teachers, was convicted by a state jury on various theft, fraud, money laundering, and campaign finance violations. Only weeks later, on February 12, he pleaded guilty in Fort Lauderdale federal court to one count of mail fraud.
On February 16, Karen McJimpson, former executive vice president of Communications Workers of America Local 4004, pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan to one count of failure to maintain records of the Detroit-based union. She had been charged earlier that day in a superseding information count following an August indictment for embezzlement of about $19,000 in union funds. The actions follow an investigation by the U.S. Labor Department’s Office of Labor-Management Standards.
When Teamsters headquarters replaces a corrupt official with a trustee, the action may take a long while, if ever, to result in a prosecution. In the case of Jerry Conner, the wait is over. On February 5, Conner, former president and business agent for International Brotherhood of Teamsters Local 279, pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court for the Central District of Illinois to making false entries in financial records of the Decatur-based union. The guilty plea follows a joint probe by the U.S. Labor Department’s Office of Labor-Management Standards and Office of Inspector General.
His blinkered economic ideas aside, Senator Bernie Sanders at least seems to work within the law. The same can’t be said for one of his presidential campaign outreach advisers, Charles “Chuck” Rocha. Early last month, the webzine Politico reported that Rocha, former political director for the United Steelworkers and now head of a consulting firm called Solidarity Strategies, had been convicted in 2013 of stealing funds from the union. Union Corruption Update has reported on this case. Rocha’s company thus far has received over $200,000 in Sanders campaign disbursements. The revelation suggests that despite the senator’s frequent denunciations of establishment corruption, his populist instincts are less than sound when it comes to hiring campaign help.
On February 4, Anne Susan, former business manager for Laborers International Union of North America Local 1386, was sentenced in Maricopa County (Ariz.) Superior Court to three years of probation for theft, identity theft and forgery against the Phoenix-based union. She also was ordered to pay $18,056 in restitution. Susan had pleaded guilty in January after being charged in October. The sentencing follows an investigation by the U.S. Labor Department’s Office of Labor-Management Standards.
On February 3, Lawrence Moyer, president of American Postal Workers Union Local 6723, was charged in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan with one count of embezzling $2,599 in funds from the Troy (suburban Detroit) union. The charge follows a probe by the Labor Department’s Office of Labor-Management Standards.
When it comes to embezzling union funds, third-party administrators can be as adept as union officials themselves. And thefts can go undetected for years. Just ask Painters union members in Hawaii. On January 27, Raymond Fujii, former executive director for a trade group, the Painting & Decorating Contractors Association of Hawaii (PDCA), pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court for the District of Hawaii to one count of mail fraud in the amount of nearly $1.5 million against the PDCA and a related union-supported entity, the Hawaii Painters Trade Promotion & Charity Fund (TP&C). Fujii also pleaded guilty to one count of filing a false tax return. He had been charged on January 20. The actions follow an investigation by the IRS and the U.S. Labor Department’s Office of Labor-Management Standards.
On January 27, Nereida Norris, clerk craft director of American Postal Workers Union Local 98, was charged in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Texas with making a false statement in financial records of the Fort Worth-based union. The charge follows an investigation by the Labor Department’s Office of Labor-Management Standards.
Orientation is a challenging time at a workplace. New hires find themselves having to learn a lot in a short time. That’s why their employers provide them with handbooks explaining the rules and addressing potential questions about them. Unions, however, see these pamphlets as thinly-veiled attempts to suppress worker organizing rights. During the Obama years, they have had an unofficial partner in the National Labor Relations Board. A new monograph published by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, “Theater of the Absurd: The NLRB Takes on the Employee Handbook,” should dispel any doubts that this alliance is real. The 43-page report, written by Chamber senior staffer Sean Redmond, documents how the ostensibly "neutral" five-member board now sides regularly with unions over handbook-related complaints that have little, if any, validity.