New York Local Probed for Election Law Violations

Service Employees Int’l Union Local 32B-32J in N.Y.C. is being investigated for possible violations of a city campaign finance law in its political action efforts.  A subpoena was served Nov. 13 on Local 32B-32J by the office of Manhattan Dist. Atty. Robert M. Morgenthau. Local president Michael Fishman said officials were asked to provide information related to the local’s “broad-based political action program” to support candidates in recently concluded city elections.

The investigation was apparently prompted by dissident Paul Pamias’s Oct. 12 letter to Morgenthau’s office. As previously reported in the UCU, Pamias told Morgenthau that the local was violating city law by “turning the union hall into a campaign headquarters” and compelling staff members to donate personal and vacation days to work on the losing mayoral campaign of city Public Advocate Mark Green (D), whose candidacy the local had endorsed.

“All the unions do this,” Pamias said, suggesting that … Read More ➡

Washington Union Must Repay $180,000 to Teachers

Thurston County (Wash.) Superior Court Judge Gary Tabor clarified a ruling Nov. 15 granting a state-sought injunction against the Wash. Educ. Ass’n to end the union’s practice of using funds from non-members for election expenditures. The injunction requires WEA officials to refund $47 by Jan. 15 to approximately 4,000 teachers who pay fees to the union. WEA is also be required to document its election-affecting contributions and expenditures from general funds and must provide an advance reduction to non-members in the future. WEA sought a “memorandum of understanding,” but the Tabor agreed with the state that a permanent injunction was necessary to assure that future violations could be addressed by contempt of court charges.

The ruling is the second part of a decision that Tabor issued in Aug. in which he fined WEA $200,000 for violating campaign finance disclosure laws, plus $200,000 in punitive damages for WEA’s intentional violation of … Read More ➡

Denver Boss Charged on 40 Counts

Bobby R. Putnam, ex-secretary-treasurer of Communications Workers of Am. Local 14708 (a.k.a., Denver Mailers Union No. 8) in Denver, was charged Oct. 31 in a 40-count indictment with embezzling $7,808.26 and falsifying union records.  The case has been assigned to U.S. Dist. Chief Judge Lewis T. Babcock (D. Colo., Reagan).

According to the indictment, Putnam engaged in a multi-step check scheme to steal $1,913.28 between Dec. 1996 and Sept. 1997.  He allegedly 1) wrote nine union checks to nine union members, 2) endorsed these checks without the nine members’ knowledge or permission, 3) deposited these checks back into the local’s checking account, and 4) then took the cash from the local’s funds for his own use and benefit. He was charged with nine counts of union embezzlement.  He was also charged with nine counts of union records falsification because for each of these nine checks, Putnam willfully made false entries … Read More ➡

Second Albany Boss Admits Theft

Daniel Vallee, ex-boss of Civil Service Employees Ass’n Local 316 in Albany, pled guilty Nov. 9 before U.S. Dist. Judge Thomas J. McAvoy (N.D.N.Y., Reagan) to embezzling $19,300.09 in union funds. Vallee admitted that from May 1988 until Jan. 2000 he wrote checks to himself drawn on the local’s account. As president, Vallee was one of two people authorized to sign the checks. The other person, Nancy Groome, ex-secretary-treasurer of the local, cosigned some of the checks but Vallee admitted he forged her name on a majority of them. In some instances, Vallee also received excess reimbursements and kept the funds. He spent the embezzled funds on personal expenses such as his mortgage, car repairs, credit card bills, and gifts for others.

In July, Groome pled guilty to embezzling nearly $111,476.48 in union funds herself. She wrote 310 unauthorized checks to herself and to vendors from union-related training trips she … Read More ➡

Alleged Associate of Boston Boss in Custody

Frank Rossi, a career criminal with close ties to embattled Boston Teamsters boss George W. Cashman was arrested on drug charges Nov. 9 and sources said the arrest could signal a major break in the racketeering probe against the union boss. Rossi was just released from a N.J. halfway house in Oct. on a different charge. The slightly built and balding Rossi, dressed in a checkered, untucked button-down shirt, jeans and sneakers, was arraigned in U.S. District Court on one count of distributing cocaine after a wired informant tape recorded at least two purchases from him in Nov. U.S. Magistrate Judge Charles B. Swartwood III (D. Mass.) held Rossi without bail until a Nov. 14 probable cause hearing as well as a hearing on his dangerousness and risk of flight.

Rossi was arrested in Woburn, Mass., following the investigation by a team of agents from the Drug Enforcement Admin. and … Read More ➡

South Carolina Rioters Get Only Suspended Jail Time

Five S.C. unionists, known as the “Charleston Five,” have pled no contest to low-level misdemeanor charges of participating in a “riot, rout, or affray,” ending the possibility of prison terms.  Judge Victor Rawl of the S.C. Circuit Court, Ninth Circuit, sentenced all five to 30 days in jail but suspended the sentences upon the payments of $309 fines and fees.  Rawl sentenced Elijah Ford, Ricky Simmons, and Peter Washington on Nov. 13 and Kenneth Jefferson and Jason Edgerton on Nov. 7. The five are members of the Int’l Longshoremen’s Ass’n, were charged with rioting and conspiracy to riot following an informational picket Jan. 20, 2000, at the Port of Charleston. The unionists were protesting the use of a nonunion stevedoring company to unload a Danish freighter. Although police had arrested eight members on misdemeanor charges, S.C. Atty. Gen. Charlie Condon intervened and raised the charges against five of the dockworkers … Read More ➡

Indiana Dues Collector Pleads Guilty to $29,600 Embezzlement

On July 11, Michele T. Spragur, former office secretary for United Bhd. of Carpenters Locals 364 and 1124 in Indianapolis, pled guilty to two counts of embezzling a total of $29,673 in union funds and two counts of destroying union records. A federal grand jury indicted Spragur Apr. 18 on two counts each of union embezzlement, falsification of union records, and destruction of union records. From 1995-98, she was a secretary for the locals and responsible for collecting union dues. [DOL 7/11/01; USAO S.D. Ind. 4/18/01]


North Carolina Embezzler Gets No Jail Time for $22,000 Embezzlement

On July 23, Terry K. Wilson, ex-secretary-treasurer of United Steelworkers of Am. Local 09-1133-L in Gastonia, N.C., was placed on 3 years supervised probation and ordered to make restitution in the amount of $6,073, the amount of the $22,073 in union funds he embezzled which is still outstanding. He pled guilty plea on … Read More ➡

9 Chicago Unionists & Official Charged with Arson

Seven members and two prospective members of a union local in Chicago that represents motion picture projectionists were indicted for allegedly waging a multi-state campaign of violence, vandalism and arson in retaliation against three major theater companies in the midst of collective bargaining disputes, Justice Department officials announced on Nov. 7.  A 14-count federal grand jury indictment linking a series of assaults and arson incidents at 20 theaters in 10 states in 1998 and 1999 was unsealed following the arrest of four defendants — including the union local’s current business manager, Albin C. Brenkus — in the Chicago area early today, announced Patrick J. Fitzgerald, United States Attorney for the Northern District of Illinois.


The indictment alleges that various defendants conspired to commit arson and conspired to travel from Illinois across state lines to commit arson, typically by activating incendiary chlorine and brake fluid devices in movie theaters Read More ➡

Laborers’ “In House Prosecutor” Tapped to “Help” Teamsters’ Clean Up

The Intl. Bhd. of Teamsters has hired the “in house prosecutor” for the Laborers’ Intl. Union of N. Amer. (LIUNA) to set up its own system of fighting corruption.  By hiring the ethically-challenged Robert Luskin, who helped forestall a federal govt. takeover of LIUNA in the 1990s, it is reported that the Teamsters hope they will persuade federal prosecutors to end their 14-yr. supervision of the IBT.


In 1995, the Clinton Dept. of Justice dropped a nationwide racketeering suit against LIUNA.  Instead of supervision by a federal court, LIUNA was allowed to establish an “internal reform effort” to be monitored only by the DOJ of Clinton Attny. General Janet Reno.  Luskin, who was representing LIUNA, was hired by the LIUNA Gen. Exec. Bd. to investigate and remove corrupt officials from the union.  Luskin’s salary and expenses, as well as those of others hired for the Read More ➡

Mass. Unionists Accused in Case of Mutual Fund Fraud

On Oct. 28, Mass. Secy. of the Commonwealth William F. Galvin accused 28 members of a Mass. union of defrauding their fellow members in the union’s 401(k) mutual fund.  The charges were laid out in a complaint filed with the Mass. Securities Division against Putnam Investment Mgmt., Inc., headquartered in Mass.  Curiously, the U.S. Dept. of Labor’s web site shows no record that the union involved, Intl. Bhd. of Boilermakers Local Lodge 5, has recently filed the financial disclosure form required by federal law.


Putnam managed the retirement plan for members of Local 5, which centered on Putnam’s Intl. Voyager Fund.  Mutual fund values are set daily at 4:00 pm EST.  But because some foreign markets close earlier, the 4:00 estimate may not reflect the most current value of intl. funds.  Mutual funds are intended to be held onto for the long-term accumulation of Read More ➡