On January 9, Shelia Brown (first name not a misspelling), former treasurer of National Treasury Employees Union Chapter 67, was charged in U.S. District Court for the District of Utah with two counts of theft in connection with the embezzlement of $20,705.21 in funds from the Ogden-based local. An IRS employee, Brown during January 2009-April 2010 allegedly engaged in unauthorized ATM, checking and debit card transactions to divert union funds to her own personal use. Local officials in July 2010 had informed members that an investigation into missing funds was underway. The indictment follows an investigation by the U.S. Labor Department's Office of Labor-Management Standards.
On January 9, David Beard, president of Laborers International Union of North America Local 381, admitted in the Trial Court of Massachusetts, BMC Department, to sufficient facts in a Continuance without a Finding for three counts of larceny in amounts over $250 from the Boston-based union. He then agreed to make $7,709 in restitution. The plea and sentencing follow a probe by the Labor Department's Office of Labor-Management Standards.
On February 7, Tracey Tigner, secretary for District Council 91 of the International Union of Painters and Allied Trades (IUPAT), was charged in Hammond, Indiana federal court for embezzling an undisclosed sum of funds from an affiliate, IUPAT Local 460 in Merrillville, Ind. District Council 91 covers all of Indiana, central Kentucky and a portion of Tennessee. The indictment follows an investigation by the U.S. Labor Department's Office of Inspector General and Office of Labor-Management Standards.
On January 16, Melissa Gustafson, former bookkeeper for International Union of Electrical, Radio and Machine Workers Local 84110, was indicted in U.S. District Court for the Central District of Illinois for embezzling $12,059.37 from the union, which has branches in Moline, Ill. and Davenport, Iowa, and is an affiliate of the Communications Workers of America. Prosecutors allege Gustafson, 36, a resident of Moline, stole the funds during June 2008-June 2011. She is scheduled for a hearing on February 15. The indictment follows a probe by the U.S. Labor Department's Office of Labor-Management Standards.
On January 8, Chad Petras, former secretary-treasurer of United Food and Commercial Workers Local 342C, was indicted in the Hamilton County Court of Common Pleas in Ohio on one count of funds from the Rising Sun, Ind.-based union in an amount of $1,000 or more. Petras committed the alleged violations in Ohio, though the union is based across the Ohio River in Indiana. The charge follows an investigation by the Labor Department's Office of Labor-Management Standards.
On January 7, Aundrea Valerio, former dispatcher for Laborers International Union of North America Local 872, was sentenced in U.S. District Court for the District of Nevada to six months of home confinement and three years of probation, and ordered to make restitution, for embezzling funds from the Las Vegas union. She pleaded guilty last September after being indicted in April 2010 with two other local office employees, Stacy Johnson and Aurora Rios, for stealing a combined more than $300,000; Valerio's share of the take was about $13,500. The actions follow a probe by the Labor Department's Office of Labor-Management Standards.
When is a union not a union? Apparently, it's when members say it isn't. Yet a change in terminology can't alter reality. Over the past several years, hundreds of organizations, known as ‘worker centers,' have established a presence in the labor movement, targeting retail and restaurant chains for organizing and picketing. While they don't like being called unions, for all practical purposes they operate as such. And they have the advantage of being outside the jurisdiction of labor law. At least one is a reconstituted key affiliate of the defunct radical network, the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now (ACORN).
On January 7, Connie Sayne, former financial secretary of United Auto Workers Local 3050, was charged in U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Indiana with embezzling $25,699.53 in funds from the Hagerstown, Ind. union. Sayne, 51, a resident of nearby Connersville, Ind., during June 2010-April 2012 allegedly wrote 64 unauthorized union checks to herself. The union represents employees of Autocar, a Hagerstown-based manufacturer of garbage trucks. The charge follows an investigation by the U.S. Labor Department's Office of Labor-Management Standards.
On January 4, Cleo Wilson, former secretary-treasurer of United Steelworkers Local 1856, was sentenced in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Texas to 12 months incarceration and three years of probation for embezzling funds from the Dallas-based union and then falsifying union records to conceal the thefts. She also will have to pay restitution in the amount of $29,856.19. Wilson had been indicted in June 2011, and pleaded guilty in March 2012. The actions follow an investigation by the Labor Department's Office of Labor-Management Standards.
Skimming contributions long has been a favored method of theft by union embezzlers. But the odds of getting caught eventually catch up. Just ask Grace Rathke. On January 3, Rathke, formerly office manager for Laborers Union of North America Local 32, pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois to stealing more than $190,000 in funds from the Rockford union. She had been indicted in August 2011 on 10 counts of embezzlement following an investigation by the U.S. Labor Department's Office of Labor-Management Standards and Office of Inspector General.