Considering the kind of people who belong, police unions typically aren't where theft happens. But Donald Liburd apparently wasn't typical. On March 15, Liburd, now 48, formerly the president of the St. Thomas-St. John, U.S. Virgin Islands Police Benevolent Association (PBA) and a detective on the local police force, was arrested for stealing more than $65,000 from the union during the three years he headed it. He had been removed from his position in the summer of 2011 by fellow union members. Following his arrest, Liburd was released on a $25,000 bond.
On April 9, Grace Rathke, former office manager for Laborers International Union of North America Local 32, was sentenced in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois to 17 months in prison and three years of probation for embezzling more than $190,000 in funds from the Rockford-based union during November 2004-March 2009. She also was ordered to pay restitution in an amount exceeding $200,000. Rathke had been indicted in August 2011, and pled guilty this past January. The actions follow an investigation by the U.S. Labor Department's Office of Labor-Management Standards and Office of Inspector General.
On April 9, Richard Ikerd, former secretary-treasurer of American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees Local 2568, was sentenced in the Third Judicial Circuit Court of Wayne County, Michigan to 90 days in jail and five years probation for embezzling funds from the Melvindale, Mich.-based union in an amount between $1,000 and $20,000. He also was ordered to pay $16,065 in restitution plus fees totaling $1,198. Ikerd pled guilty last October after being charged in July. The actions follow a probe by the U.S. Labor Department's Office of Labor-Management Standards.
The coffers of Metal Polishers Local 8A-28A are due for replenishment. Members are hoping they don't have to wait too long. On April 9, Hector Lopez, former president of the Long Island City (Queens), N.Y.-based union, pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of New York to conspiracy to commit mail fraud, wire fraud and tax evasion, related mainly to his fleecing of a union benefit plan. He also will have to make restitution in excess of $1.1 million. Lopez had been arrested and indicted last September on 15 counts of fraud, embezzlement, tax evasion and other offenses following a joint investigation by the U.S. Department of Labor and the Internal Revenue Service.
Joseph Lombardo isn't a pro basketball player. But a number of people who play the game for a living aren't very pleased with his approach to managing their union's finances. Neither is the Justice Department. On Thursday, April 25, federal prosecutors in Manhattan announced the indictment and arrest of Lombardo for attempting to defraud the National Basketball Players Association (NBPA) of more than $3 million. Lombardo allegedly used his position as managing director of a Cleveland-area investment bank in 2011 to forge the signature of the deceased union general counsel as part of a service contract renewal, and then, with another firm employee, gave false testimony before a grand jury. The actions come in the wake of a unanimous vote by the NBPA board of player representatives in February to oust Executive Director Billy Hunter (in photo) following the release of an full-length audit.
On April 9, Patricia Race, former president of United Auto Workers Local 959, was sentenced in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Ohio to six months probation and ordered to pay a $250 fine for filing false financial data on behalf of the Fremont, Ohio-based union. She had been charged in November. No information is available as to the date of a finding or plea of guilt. The actions follow a probe by the U.S. Labor Department's Office of Labor-Management Standards.
On April 8, Barbara Holland, former bookkeeper-secretary for United Association of Plumbers and Pipefitters Local 62, was charged in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California, San Jose Division, with false entry in or willful concealment of financial records of the Castroville, Calif. union. The charge follows an investigation by the U.S. Labor Department's Office of Labor-Management Standards.
On April 8, Caleb Gray-Burriss, founder-president of the National Association of Special Police and Security Officers (NASPSO), was sentenced in U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia to 76 months in prison, to be followed by 36 months of supervised probation, for multiple acts of mail fraud and embezzlement against the Washington, D.C.-based union and its benefit funds totaling $252,376.42. He also will have to pay full restitution and perform 100 hours of community service. Gray-Burriss had been found guilty by a jury in December following a protracted legal battle against federal authorities, extensively documented in Union Corruption Update. The actions follow a probe by the Labor Department's Office of Labor-Management Standards, Employee Benefits Security Administration and Office of Inspector General.
The AFL-CIO normally is quick to defend the interests of its 57 member unions. But the Washington, D.C.-based labor federation seems happy to make an exception in the case of the National Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Council. And the reason lies with the union's objections to the new Senate proposal to grant amnesty to virtually all 11 million or more illegal immigrants and expand work visa availability. In its current form, argue council officials, the measure would hamstring ICE agents from protecting the public from dangerous criminals. Toward that end, Council President Chris Crane and nine other members last August filed suit against three top immigration officials in their carrying out of a June executive order by President Obama.
On April 8, Cynthia Yancey, former secretary-treasurer of American Federation of Government Employees Local 3840, was indicted in the Hamilton County (Ohio) Court of Common Pleas on one count of theft of funds in an unspecified amount from the Cincinnati-based union. The indictment follows a probe by the Labor Department's Office of Labor-Management Standards.