The International Longshoremen’s Association (ILA) has a long tradition of rewarding its friends with lavish wages and salaries for “ghost jobs.” Paul Moe now wishes he was present more often. On July 20, Moe, foreman for a shipping company at Port of Elizabeth, N.J., was charged in U.S. District Court for the District of New Jersey with multiple counts of wire fraud related to his collecting hundreds of thousands of dollars in nonexistent work. He was released on $250,000 bail. Moe’s lawyer asserts no crime was committed. Given the evidence, this may be a hard case to defend. The charges follow a probe by the Labor Department’s Office of Labor-Management Standards, Office of Inspector General, and Employee Benefits Security Administration, along with the Waterfront Commission of New York Harbor.
Paul Moe Sr., now 66, a resident of Atlantic Highlands, N.J., during September 2015-March 2017 was employed full-time at Port of Elizabeth to supervise the maintenance and repair of shipping container handling equipment. His annual salary of nearly $500,000 was exorbitant by any reasonable measure. In “earning” his weekly $9,300 paychecks, prosecutors allege, Moe often showed up for work as little as eight hours a week. To conceal the fraud, unnamed ILA members submitted false daily timesheets, on occasion crediting him with extensive overtime. The Labor Department caught on and conducted an investigation, concluding that Moe routinely had failed to show up even as he was getting paid full-time. The DOL referred the case to the Justice Department. He was arrested and indicted this July 20 on one count of wire fraud conspiracy and 13 counts of wire fraud.
Moe’s attorney, Gerald McMahon, believes his client has been framed. “He has not engaged in any fraud whatsoever,” said McMahon. “It’s typical management, getting the prosecutor’s office to do their bidding and try to intimidate the union.” He added that his client’s agreement with the terminal did not require him to work 40 hours a week, but simply said that he had to be on call, except for vacation time. Those vacations must have been long ones. According to U.S. Attorney William Fitzpatrick, Moe frequently relaxed in Florida, in Aruba or on his yacht while collecting a full-time salary. In the end, the timesheets, and the people who filled them out, may be the ones to reveal the truth.