Boyfriend of Ex-Union Boss on Run Pleads Guilty to Harboring & Embezzlement

On December 11, in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Virginia, Robert E. Martin, Jr., a former member of Steelworkers Local 9336, pled guilty to one count of harboring a fugitive, Elizabeth J. George, who was previously indicted for embezzlement from a union disaster relief fund.

As part of the plea agreement, Martin agreed to pay Local 9336 $900.71 in restitution for funds he falsely claimed for lost work time due to a plant explosion in 2000. Martin was released on bond after being incarcerated since September 9, 2002 on the harboring charge. The charges were brought following a joint investigation by the Pittsburgh branch of the U.S. Ofc. of Labor-Mgmt. Standards and the Department of Labor’s Office of the Inspector General. [DOL OLMS 12/19/02]

Ex-Fin. Secy. Charged with Embezzlement in PA Fed. Ct.
On Dec. 4,  in the U.S. Dist. Ct. for the Middle Dist. of … Read More ➡

Ex-National Boss Gives up Fight to Recapture Union

Former union president Kenneth Lyons has given up  his effort to wrest back control of the national union he was ousted from for ignoring Mass. ethics rules. In Aug., U.S. Dist. Judge Morris Lasker (D. Mass., Johnson) upheld the takeover of the Natl. Assn. of Govt. Employees (NAGE) by its intl. parent, the Service Employees Intl. Union (SEIU).

Lyons founded the NAGE 40 years ago. But SEIU officials concluded in Nov. 2001 that Lyons had spent hundreds of dollars on meals for the state’s chief labor negotiator. Lyons sued to overturn the SEIU ruling, but Judge Lasker entered a summary judgment for the SEIU, ruling that no NAGE officials were pressured into agreeing with the SEIU takeover. Lyons recently withdrew his appeal of Lasker’s ruling. [Quincy, MA, Patriot Ledger  12/5/02]… Read More ➡

Ex-SD Stagehand Union Boss Changes Plea, Confesses to Embezzlement

On December 12, 2002, in the U.S. Dist. Court for South Dakota, Jo Ann Vaughn, frmr. treasurer of the Intl. Alliance Theatrical, Stage & Picture Operators Local 220, pled guilty to one count of embezzling approximately $33,000 (not exceeding $29,000 in union funds). Vaughn had pled not guilty on October 22 to one count of embezzlement and one count of fraud for causing a false report to be made. She will be sentenced on March 10, 2003. The charges were brought following an investigation by the Minneapolis Resident Investigator branch of the U.S. Ofc. of Labor-Mgmt. Standards. [USAO, SD 12/12/02: DOL OLMS 12/19/02]

Ex-Chattanooga Ofc. Mgr. Charged with Embezzling $28,000
On November 22, in the U.S. Dist. Court for the Eastern Dist. of Tenn., Chris Keith, former office manager of the Building and Construction Trades Council in Chattanooga, was charged in a one-count information with embezzling $28,092 by writing unauthorized … Read More ➡

AFL-CIO Chief Feels Heat, Resigns from Ullico Board

As Ullico Bd. members continued to cover up a report on their insider deals in the union-owned company’s falling stock, AFL-CIO president John Sweeney resigned from the Bd. on Dec. 2. He claimed that he could not “adequately fulfill my obligations to Ullico” and to the union members whose pension funds largely finance the insurance company.

Sweeney, however, did not explain why he failed to publicly oppose the scheme in which Ullico directors were allowed to buy Ullico stock “low” in late 1999, knowing that its value would be readjusted upward in 2000. Ullico’s stock was highly leveraged on Global Crossing, which rose with the telecom bubble, then deflated in 2000 and 2001. But in both years, Ullico directors were able to sell back their Ullico stock “high,” before its price was lowered to reflect the falling
value of Global Crossing. Because only small shareholders could participate in the deals, … Read More ➡

Union Directors Colluding to Keep Internal Report from Grand Jury

Directors of the Union Labor Life Insurance Company (ULLICO) are attempting to keep a report on their insider stock deals under cover of “attorney/client privilege,” and away from the U.S. Attny in Washington, D.C.

ULLICO pres. and ex-chief of the AFL-CIO’s Bldg. & Construction Trades Dept., Robert Georgine, allowed the union boss directors to buy and sell ULLICO stock before its value was reset at the beginning of each year. Thus, with ULLICO’s stock highly leveraged on the telecom firm Global Crossing, directors could buy ULLICO stock “low,” before its value rose along with Global Crossing’s in 1999. As the telecom bubble deflated in 2000 and 2001, they were allowed to sell back their stock “high,” before its price was readjusted downward as Global Crossing spiraled toward the 4th largest bankruptcy in history. But ULLICO’s rules only allowed individuals, with a relatively small number of shares, to participate. As a … Read More ➡

Houston Union Agrees to Return Charity Funds never Given to Toys for Tots

A Houston-area deputies union has agreed to hand over funds it raised, ostensibly for the Marine Corps Toys for Tots Fndtn., but which union officials pocketed.

The settlement of the deceptive trade lawsuit filed last year by County Attny. Mike Stafford and Attny. Gen. and senator-elect John Cornyn was agreed to by State District Judge Bruce Oakley on Nov. 8. The Harris County Deputies’ Organization admitted no wrongdoing, but agreed to pay $60,756 to Toys for Tots, and $63,500 in civil penalties and attny. fees. Union fund-raiser Ron Kowalsky was ordered to pay $100,000, including $70,000 to Toys for Tots. Telemarketer John Merritt will have to pay $50,500, with $20,000 going to the charity. In total, the union, Kowalsky and Merritt will have to pay $274,756, with $150,756 going to Toys for Tots

From 1998 until Dec. 2000, the union used telemarketers who told donors that they were collecting on … Read More ➡

HI State Union Chief Convicted of Fraud, Embezzlement

United Public Workers (UPW) chief Gary Rodrigues was found guilty by a Honolulu jury on Nov. 19 of fraud and embezzlement that cost UPW members nearly $200,000. Rodrigues reacted by pointing at the fed. prosecutors and saying, “Get a good look at their faces, remember their faces,” then later grabbing a microphone from a reporter’s hand and smashing it on the ground.

Rodrigues was convicted of accepting kickbacks from 1996-2000 from insurers who did business with the union, which is affiliated with the Amer. Fedn. of State, County & Municipal Employees. Rodrigues also set up consultant contracts with family and friends, supposedly to review the union’s benefits programs, but who did little actual work. Also convicted was Rodrigues’ daughter, Robin Sabatini, who formed her own company, Four Winds RSK Inc. to take on the union business referred by her father, but spent only one to four days a month on … Read More ➡

Were NYC Union Workers Forced to Work for Union-backed Candidate?

Manhattan D.A. Robert Morgenthau is investigating charges that N.Y.C. service union bosses pressured their staffers to work for mayoral candidate Mark Green on union time, and contributed to Green’s campaign from members’ regular dues, as opposed to political action committee money. The grand jury investigation comes more than a year after N.Y. union dissident Paul Pamias first filed his complaint with the D.A.

 Two frmr. officials of Local 32BJ of the Service Employees Intl. Union (SEIU) said that higher-ups in the Local threatened staffers with reprimands unless they volunteered to help the Green campaign in the Dem. primary in 2001, and that they did such work on union time, which is illegal under local election law. Contributing members’ regular dues to Green could violate the U.S. Sup. Ct. decision, Communications Wrkrs. v. Beck. In that 1988 ruling, the High Ct. held that it was illegal for unions to spend forced … Read More ➡

Minneapolis City Councilman Convicted of Aiding Union Theft

A fed. jury convicted Minneapolis City Council member Joseph Biernat of aiding union embezzlement on Nov. 21. In 1999, Biernat accepted $2,700 in free plumbing work, on a house he owned, from Thomas J. Martin, ex-bus. mgr. of Local 15 of the United Assn. of Plumbers and Pipefitters. Martin is scheduled to go on trial Dec. 3 for 10 related charges of stealing from the union. Biernat was also convicted of lying about whether he had received property improvements from at one other than his family. [Minneapolis Star Tribune 11/21/01]

Adminr. Sentenced for Embezzling NY Electricians’ Pensions
On Oct. 10, in the U.S. Dist. Ct. for the Southern Dist. of NY, Barbara Monfre, administrator of the Electrical Workers (IBEW) Local 3, Elevator Division Retirement Plan, was sentenced to 2 yrs. imprisonment and was ordered to pay restitution in the amount of $314,547. She was arraigned on March 22, 2002, on … Read More ➡

Ex-WI Bus. Mgr. Confesses to $135K Embezzlement

Michael E. Koehler pled guilty on Nov. 8 to using funds from the union of which he was the only full-time officer for his personal use and entertainment.

From 1980 until his defeat in a 2001 election, Koehler was Fin. Secy. and Bus. Mgr. of Local 965 of the Intl. Bhd. of Electrical Wrkrs. In Oct. 1997, Koehler began submitting false claims for reimbursement for money he claimed to have given to grieving families at members’ funerals, gas mileage and meal expenses he never incurred, and overtime he never worked. Before that, Koehler had regularly claimed his tee time at the Portage Country Club as union business since 1989. The $135,200 Koehler stole from the union made him Wisconsin’s highest paid union official.

Fed. Judge Barbara Crabb (U.S.D.C. W.D. WI, Carter) will sentence Koehler on Feb. 4, 2003. [Capital Times, Wisconsin State Journal 11/9/02]

Capital Consultants Pension Scandal Nets Another Read More ➡