John DaBronzo had a gambling problem. Unfortunately, he made it his union’s problem as well. His inability to keep the two worlds separate is why he’s now contemplating the possibility of a future in federal prison. DaBronzo from 1989 to 2007 had served as business agent for Local 89 of the International Association of Heat and Frost Insulators and Asbestos (or Allied) Workers. During the last couple years of his tenure, charged prosecutors, he pilfered some $829,000 from the union, which represents insulation workers in the Trenton and Atlantic City, N.J. areas. Asked by U.S. District Judge Joel A. Pisano where the money went, DaBronzo replied that he’d gambled it away. DaBronzo pleaded guilty to two counts of embezzlement, each of which carries a sentence of up to five years, plus a $250,000 fine. He’s free on bond until his September 16 sentencing.
A resident of Hamilton Square, N.J., DaBronzo, now 57, resigned in May 2007 after a Labor Department probe concluded he was the culprit behind a pattern of union misspending occurring over the period January 2005-April 2007. Initially, noted the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Newark, he pilfered from the local’s payroll deduction-funded Joint Apprenticeship and Training Committee Fund, which he administered. Once that source was nearing depletion, he embezzled from remittance checks the union had received from employers with whom it had contracts. These sources amounted, respectively, to a little over $396,000 and $433,000.
As business agent for the 140-member Trenton-based Local 89, John DaBronzo made $87,797 a year. Ordinarily, that’s decent money. But it proved to be pocket change in the face of all those losses at the Atlantic City casinos. The union isn’t talking about how it plans to replenish its finances. DaBronzo’s replacement, Edward Fedorko, did not return calls about a reportedly promised full internal audit of worker training accounts. Organized labor has produced too many cases of officials betting over their heads, not with them. Even a solvent local union can’t afford to lose $829,000. (The Press of Atlantic City, 6/17/08; NJ.com, 6/17/08; other sources).