Many major construction projects in New York City face an unwritten law: If you want the work completed, pay the mob tax. Those who collect are the Mafia, and unions and contractors friendly to it. Those who pay are the general public and the workers who receive substandard wages and benefits. But tax relief may be on the way. On Monday, April 10, three mob-linked drywall contractors and a Genovese crime family soldier admitted in federal court in Manhattan to taking part in a scheme involving a pair of labor unions.
Contractors James Delio, his brother Joseph Delio, and Fred Nisall copped mail fraud, embezzlement and extortion pleas, while Genovese made man Robert Carbone pleaded guilty to extorting officers of Local 530 of the Operative Plasterers and Cement Masons International Association. With the help of the Genoveses, the Delios and Nisall hired nonunion labor off the books, in the process … Read More ➡ “Three Contractors, Genovese Mobster Plead Guilty”
When Local 100 of the Transport Workers Union of America (TWU) went on a three-day strike during last year’s Christmas shopping season, it did more than disrupt the lives of millions of New York City bus and subway commuters; it also broke the law. And in doing so, it opened itself up to roughly $3 million in fines. On Friday, April 7, lawyers for the local argued before Justice Theodore Jones of State Supreme Court in Brooklyn that the fines, if levied, would bankrupt the union. Therefore, stated the defense, the fines should be waived. Given that the strike, not officially backed by the national union, cost the city’s economy a lot more than $3 million, this would seem an odd argument. But the strike has to be put in the context of a four-decade conflict between TWU Local 100 and state and local officials.… Read More ➡ “NYC Mass Transit Local Makes Unorthodox Plea to Avoid Fines”
Leslie Patricia Bell found out the price of stealing from a union treasury: 18 months in federal prison, three years probation, and $156,423 in restitution. Bell, 39, had pleaded guilty last May to charges she embezzled funds from Local 1184 of the Laborers International Union of North America, which represents construction, groundskeeping and maintenance workers in Riverside and San Bernardino Counties. Bell had been responsible for paying union bills and depositing membership dues at the union’s local office in Riverside. Her thefts began in May 2001 and lasted until her firing in July 2003. Most of Bell’s haul took the form of membership dues paid in cash. She also admitted forging the name of her then-husband, the union president, on two checks totaling $22,028. She used the money to pay off credit card debt and federal taxes, according to her plea bargain. … Read More ➡ “Southern California Ex-Secretary Sentenced for Embezzlement”
The age of transparency for labor unions has arrived, as the real effects of the Department of Labor’s new financial reporting requirements begin to kick in. Over the course of the next few weeks, most unions should have their financial books open for public review on the Web. Rank-and-file members, contractors, state and local officials – for that matter, anyone with a working computer and Internet access will be able to go over any labor organization’s fundraising and spending patterns. Late last spring a U.S. Appeals Court had given DOL the green light for issuing its revised LM-2 form, which imposes greater detail than before on larger unions (smaller unions use the shorter LM-3 or LM-4 forms). “This initiative is about giving union members meaningful information about their own union’s finances, so that they can exercise their democratic rights,” said Labor Secretary Elaine Chao.
The LM-2 form, authorized by the … Read More ➡ “Revised LM-2 Form Provides Public Window to Union Spending”
It’s not a well-kept secret that the City of San Diego’s pension liabilities have been ballooning over the past several years. And despite the distractions – like the forced departures last year of not one, but two mayors – the crisis isn’t about to go away, given the latest deficit estimate of $1.43 billion. To prosecutors, this state of affairs is partly the product of union leaders like Ron Saathoff and City Hall friends. The longtime president of International Association of Fire Fighters Local 145 is facing federal and state criminal charges in connection with a secret deal he allegedly worked out with San Diego officials. Saathoff, prosecutors say, secured a 40 percent increase in his retirement income in exchange for a City agreement to underfund the union pension. Saathoff, a former pension board trustee, repeatedly has stated he’s not guilty. But a majority of rank and file members appear … Read More ➡ “Local Members Balk at Paying San Diego Fire Fighters Boss’s Legal Fees”
As a teacher to special-needs students, Ava Marlene Shaw had a helping hand. But as president of the San Gabriel Teachers Association she seemed a lot more interested in helping herself. On March 22, police arrested Shaw, 50, for embezzling about $83,000 in union funds. Investigators say that Shaw, who no longer works for the school district and who had been teaching at a private school at the time of her arrest, used union checks and credit cards to pay for personal expenses. Free on bail, Shaw is scheduled for arraignment in May. If convicted, she faces anywhere from 28 months to four years in prison.
Police for about a year had been investigating irregularities in a routine internal audit the association initiated in October 2004, the month current SGTA President Katherine Hill was elected. At the request of the association, the San Gabriel school district participated in the investigation, … Read More ➡ “Southern California Local Teachers President Arrested for Embezzlement”
The good times rolled. And now, unfortunately, so might Danny Iverson and Debra Timko. On March 21, a federal grand jury issued a 33-count indictment against the pair, each a former president of Service Employees International Union Local 150. They were charged with mail and wire fraud in the theft of more than $50,000 from the Milwaukee-based union, part of a scheme to embezzle more than $90,000 to pay for personal expenses. The local represents stadium workers, nursing home attendants and other service employees. Iverson, 50, had resigned as president in 2001, shortly after appointing Timko to vice president. Subsequently, Timko, 41, replaced him as president and held the position through 2004, while Iverson stayed on as “president emeritus.”
The indictment indicates that during a two-year period Timko authorized $50,000 or more in fraudulent payments to Iverson from the union’s payroll company as … Read More ➡ “Two Ex-Bosses of Milwaukee Local Indicted for Fraud”
Janett Humphries isn’t like her former ally, Martin Ludlow: She thinks she can beat the rap. For her sake, she’d better be right. She’s facing a maximum of five years in federal prison on each of 18 counts. On Monday, March 20, Ms. Humphries, formerly president of SEIU Local 99, pleaded not guilty in U.S. District Court in downtown Los Angeles to embezzling $36,000 in 2003 to help Ludlow get elected to the Los Angeles City Council; she allegedly also used union funds on travel expenses for relatives and a friend.
It will be an uphill case. Ludlow took prosecutors’ plea-bargain offer for his role in embezzling funds, and is expected to testify against Humphries. Having left the City Council last year to head the Los Angeles County Federation of Labor, he’s facing a restitution order and a 13-year ban on holding a union position (a ban reportedly plea-bargained down … Read More ➡ “Los Angeles School Workers Local Chieftain Pleads Not Guilty”
On March 6, Cindy Wright, formerly president of Local 1298 of the American Federation of Government Employees, was sentenced in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Texas to 24 months in prison and was ordered to pay approximately $32,000 in restitution to the Ft. Worth-based union. She had pleaded guilty in October to one count of making false statements of material fact. The guilty plea and sentencing follow an investigation by the Labor Department’s Office of Labor-Management Standards and the Justice Department’s Office of Inspector General. (OLMS, 4/4/06).
Former Oklahoma Local Boss Pleads Guilty to Embezzlement
On March 9, Jerry LeBlanc, ex-president of Local 2250 of the American Federation of Government Employees, pled guilty in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Oklahoma for embezzling $46,151.51 in union funds. He had been indicted last November. The guilty plea follows a … Read More ➡ “Ex-Local President in Texas Sentenced, Fined”
Opponents of union corruption in the last couple months have been twice blessed – with books. Earlier this year Robert Fitch’s Solidarity for Sale (Public Affairs Press) recounted decades of organized labor getting its hands dirty with criminal underworld figures, in the process refuting the wish-fulfillment behind the idea of unionism’s long-lost Golden Age. Now another tome on the subject, also a mix of meticulous scholarship and outrage, has made its appearance. It’s called Mobsters, Unions, and Feds: The Mafia and the American Labor Movement (New York University Press), and it pulls no punches. The author, James B. Jacobs, a law professor at NYU, has published extensively on organized crime. Back in the 80s, in fact, he led the New York State Organized Crime Task Force’s investigation of corruption among unions and contractors in the New York City construction industry. Like Fitch, though … Read More ➡ “New Book Describes History of Organized Labor-Mobster Ties”