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.
On April 11, Susan Haugen, former treasurer of the South Dakota chapter of the American Postal Workers of America, was sentenced in U.S. District Court for the District of South Dakota to one year of probation and ordered to pay a $100 special assessment for embezzling $30,782 in funds from the Huron, S.D. association. She had pleaded guilty this February after being indicted on three counts in November 2014 for theft of more than $36,000. Haugen previously paid restitution in the amount of $38,234. The actions follow an investigation by the U.S. Labor Department’s Office of Labor-Management Standards.
On April 4, Bonita Scherling, former secretary-treasurer of Communications Workers of America Local 7970, pleaded guilty in the Circuit Court of Oregon, County of Hood River, to one count of forgery and one count of identity theft from the Hood River-based union. She then was sentenced to five years of probation and 120 hours of community service, and was ordered to pay $19,386 in restitution and a $500 fine. Scherling had been indicted last October on one count each of theft and forgery, and two counts of identity theft. The actions follow an investigation by the U.S. Labor Department’s Office of Labor-Management Standards.
On March 30, Oscar Luevano, former financial secretary-treasurer of Transportation Communications Union (TCU) Local Lodge 5050, pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court for the Central District of California to embezzling $132,939 in funds from the Covina (Los Angeles County)-based union. He had been charged five days earlier. TCU is an affiliate of the International Association of Machinists. The charge follows a probe by the U.S. Labor Department’s Office of Labor-Management Standards.
On March 28, Stanley Buchanan, former president of National Association of Letter Carriers Branch 493, pleaded guilty in Smith County (Tex.) Court to unauthorized use of a credit card issued by the Tyler-based union. He then was sentenced to deferred adjudication, placed in community supervision for three years, and ordered to pay $6,406 in restitution and $348 in court costs. Smith had been charged last December with credit card fraud in the amount of $7,776. The actions follow an investigation by the U.S. Labor Department’s Office of Labor-Management Standards.
On March 22, Bob Buford, former president of United Auto Workers Local 2419, was indicted in U.S. District Court for the Central District of Illinois on one count of mail fraud related to his embezzlement of $28,697 from the savings account of the Danville, Ill.-based union back in 2010. He also was indicted for concealing the thefts in union financial records. The charges follow a probe by the Labor Department’s Office of Labor-Management Standards.
On April 26, Todd Culley, former secretary-treasurer of United Steelworkers Local 103, pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Louisiana to one count of embezzlement in an unspecified sum from the St. Francisville-based union. He had been charged on April 12. The actions follow a probe by the U.S. Labor Department’s Office of Labor-Management Standards.
On May 4, Shelly Sutton, former treasurer for American Federation of Government Employees Local 477, was sentenced in U.S. District Court for the District of Kansas to three months in prison and three months of supervised release for one count of bank fraud. She also was ordered to pay restitution in the amount of $78,778. Sutton had pleaded guilty in February to stealing $93,094 from the Wichita-based union, which represents employees at the local VA hospital, after being indicted last November. The actions follow an investigation by the U.S. Labor Department’s Office of Labor-Management Standards.
The word “troubled” doesn’t even begin to describe the Teamsters’ Central States Pension Fund. “Desperate” is more like it. Last Friday, May 6, the Treasury Department announced that it had rejected a restructuring proposal submitted by plan trustees last September to avert collapse. The proposal, which would have cut benefits on average by 22 percent for about two-thirds of all participants, did not go over well with Teamsters General President James P. Hoffa and other union officials. Yet they are cornered by reality. As of last fall, liabilities exceeded assets by $17.5 billion, a gap widening by $2 billion a year. The plan is projected to go bankrupt in 10 years. A federal bailout likely would make things worse. Central States Executive Director Thomas Nyhan is reviewing alternatives.
For Jimmy Deamicis, union organizing was a license to extort and defraud. Now he’s found out the wages of his misguided thinking. On March 23, Deamicis, a former member of now-defunct International Brotherhood of Teamsters Local 82, was sentenced in Boston federal court to a year and a day in confinement and another year of probation for his participation in a racket in which union members forced cash and other tribute from businesses, especially exhibitors at Boston-area trade shows. He had been convicted by a jury in November on three counts of extortion; later in the month he pleaded guilty to three counts of mail fraud and one count of theft of government funds. He also was ordered to pay $42,091 in restitution and a $700 assessment. The actions follow a Labor Department probe.