On April 28, Udean Forbes-Payton, former financial secretary of United Auto Workers Local 2500, was charged in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan with embezzling $5,562 in funds from the Detroit-based union during December 2006-May 2011 and then concealing the thefts in union records. The charges follow an investigation by the U.S. Labor Department's Office of Labor-Management Standards and Office of Inspector General.
Ryan Sherard and Fred Correll might consider themselves lucky that they weren't prosecuted for stealing a lot more. On April 23, Sherard, former president of the International Brotherhood of Teamsters' Graphic Communications Conference, District Council 2, pleaded guilty in Santa Ana, Calif. federal court to one count of concealing $9,635 in income in the financial records of the Fullerton-based union. Six days earlier, on April 17, Correll, former council secretary-treasurer, had pleaded guilty to embezzling $10,000 from the union in 2009. Back in February, each had waived his right to a grand jury, and agreed to plea guilty. Sentencing is scheduled for August 4.
On April 24, Robert Vargeson, former treasurer of Communications Workers of America Local 88329, pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Pennsylvania to an information count for falsifying financial records of the Galeton (Potter County), Pa.-based union. The concealment had covered up a loss of $6,373 to the union. Vargeson had been charged 10 days earlier following a probe by the U.S. Labor Department's Office of Labor-Management Standards.
On April 22, Britta Duncan, former secretary-treasurer for Local 5 of the International Longshore and Warehouse Union, was sentenced in U.S. District Court for the District of Oregon to eight months of home detention and five years of probation for embezzling funds from the Portland-based union and falsifying union financial reports to cover up the thefts. She also was ordered to pay $43,183 in restitution and a $500 fine, and receive counseling. Duncan, formerly an employee of the Portland flagship store of Powell's Books, pleaded guilty last October to three counts of embezzlement and two counts of records fraud. She had been charged in March 2013 following an investigation by the U.S. Labor Department's Office of Labor-Management Standards.
Workers represented by Cement Masons Local 600 have helped put up a good many buildings in Southern California. But right now its members have a more immediate project on their hands: making sure they receive all promised benefits. And the U.S. Department of Labor wants to make that happen. Last Wednesday, the DOL filed a civil suit against various officers of the local trust funds to seek the reinstatement of a recently-fired union auditor and remove certain board members who administer the funds. Assistant Labor Secretary Phyllis Borzi explained the motive behind the action: "Workers must be free to participate in Department of Labor inquiries without fear of retaliation. By law, they have a right to report suspected violations to the department and must be allowed to cooperate with investigators."
When the Port Authority Terminal at the World Trade Center in Lower Manhattan reopened this past February 25, at least a few of the people involved in this challenging and emotionally-charged project couldn't be on hand. They included brothers Gerardo and Vincent Fusella, owner-operators of a New Jersey-based trucking company, and Willie Spikes, a steward for International Brotherhood of Teamsters Local 282. Over the last year or more, the three pleaded guilty in Brooklyn, N.Y. federal court for their roles in diverting more than $1 million in union member wages and benefits to themselves. Each subsequently was sentenced. The Fusellas had been named in a 31-count criminal indictment in December 2011 following a lengthy multi-agency investigation.
On April 23, Jennifer Gent, former office manager for the Journeyman Apprentice Training Fund (JATF) of the Pittsburgh-based Sheet Metal Workers Local 12, was indicted in U.S. District Court for the Western District of Pennsylvania on one count of embezzlement of $30,297 in JATF funds. The indictment follows an investigation by the Labor Department's Office of Labor-Management Standards.
Ronald Karr, former secretary-treasurer of International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local 2359, was sentenced in U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Ohio to two years of probation and ordered to pay a $4,000 fine for embezzling $158,150 from the Sugar Grove, Ohio union. He previously had made full restitution. Karr had been charged last November and pleaded guilty in December. The actions follow a probe by the U.S. Labor Department's Office of Labor-Management Standards.
On April 22, Nathan Lee, former secretary-treasurer of Brotherhood of Maintenance of Way Employees Local 536, was charged in the Superior Court of Fulton County, Georgia with one count of theft in the amount of $3,074 from the Atlanta-based union. The charge follows an investigation by the U.S. Labor Department's Office of Labor-Management Standards.
On April 23, Anthony Davis, president of National Postal Mail Handlers Union Local 314, was indicted in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Missouri on one count of embezzling $40,659 in funds from the St. Louis union. The Mail Handlers are an affiliate of the Laborers International Union of North America. The indictment follows an investigation by the U.S. Labor Department's Office of Labor-Management Standards.