Ex-UAW President in New Jersey Sentenced for Benefit Fraud

Considering what Sergio Acosta stole, and enabled his business partner to steal, he is one lucky man. On January 15, Acosta, formerly president of United Auto Workers Local 2326 and trustee of a related health plan, was sentenced in Trenton federal court to three years of supervised release for scamming the plan and keeping a large portion of claims payouts. He also was ordered to pay $32,000 in restitution. Acosta had pleaded guilty last April to a superseding information count of theft, embezzlement and fund conversion. He and a New Jersey businessman, Lawrence Ackerman, had been charged in January 2017 in the scheme, which resulted in a $6.6 million loss to Horizon Blue Cross Blue Shield of New Jersey. Ackerman, who pleaded guilty in December, is set for sentencing on March 20. The actions follow a U.S. Labor Department probe.

As Union Corruption Update has noted (here and here), Sergio … Read More ➡ “Ex-UAW President in New Jersey Sentenced for Benefit Fraud”

SMART Secretary-Treasurer in Illinois Pleads Guilty to Records Fraud

On January 17, Edward Cranston, former secretary-treasurer of Sheet Metal, Air, Rail and Transportation Workers (SMART) Local 1421, pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois to one count of filing a false financial report to the U.S. Department of Labor for the purpose of concealing $28,220 in funds he had stolen from the Beecher (Will County), Ill.-based union. The plea follows an investigation by the U.S. Labor Department’s Office of Labor-Management Standards.… Read More ➡ “SMART Secretary-Treasurer in Illinois Pleads Guilty to Records Fraud”

AFGE Secretary in Oklahoma Charged with Embezzlement

On January 15, Christy Coppin, former office secretary for American Federation of Government Employees Local 2250, was indicted in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Oklahoma with theft and embezzlement from the Muskogee-based union in the sum of $52,738. The indictment follows a probe by the U.S. Labor Department’s Office of Labor-Management Standards.… Read More ➡ “AFGE Secretary in Oklahoma Charged with Embezzlement”

Kansas President of Government Employees Union Sentenced

On January 22, Robert Clearwater, former president of National Association of Government Employees (NAGE) Local 14-8, was sentenced in U.S. District Court for the District of Kansas to three years of supervised probation for embezzling $11,681 in funds from the Topeka union. He also was ordered to pay full restitution plus a special assessment of $700. Clearwater had pleaded guilty to embezzlement and falsifying union financial records last April after being charged in February. NAGE is an affiliate of the Service Employees International Union. The actions follow an investigation by the U.S. Labor Department’s Office of Labor-Management Standards.… Read More ➡ “Kansas President of Government Employees Union Sentenced”

Independent Union Boss in New York Sentenced for Role in $1M+ Scams

For years, Rocco Fazzolari used his union and a related benefit plan as sources of easy money. He’s now about to live the hard life. Fazzolari, formerly president of United Industrial and Service Employees Union Local 122, today was sentenced in Manhattan federal court to 37 months in prison for embezzlement, false record-keeping and receiving kickbacks from the East Meadow (Long Island), N.Y. -based union. Through these schemes, he and an unnamed co-conspirator had enriched themselves by more than $1.3 million. In addition to serving prison time, he will have to forfeit $941,828 in assets and pay restitution of $1,288,810.75. Fazzolari had pleaded guilty in September following a joint probe by the U.S. Labor Department’s Office of Labor-Management Standards, Office of Inspector General, and Employee Benefits Security Administration.

According to prosecutors, Fazzolari, now 58, a resident of Manhasset Hills, Long Island, during 2012-16 embezzled union funds to pay for … Read More ➡ “Independent Union Boss in New York Sentenced for Role in $1M+ Scams”

Boston-Area Police Union Discovers Money Is Missing

Police unions represent people who arrest thieves, not employ them. In Somerville, Mass., they’ve got both types. Last week, a source close to the local police department in Somerville, adjacent to Boston’s Charlestown neighborhood, revealed that the Somerville Police Employees Association (SPEA), an independent union of nearly 100 patrol officers, is missing between $50,000 and $90,000 from its coffers and that the culprit is one of its own. SPEA President Michael McGrath indicated that the case is under investigation, but would not comment further. No outside government agencies have gotten involved yet, but that could change soon.… Read More ➡ “Boston-Area Police Union Discovers Money Is Missing”

Sheila Jackson Lee Resigns from Subcommittee, Foundation in Wake of Ex-Staffer Suit

Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee has a well-earned reputation for vindictiveness. But she’s now reaped poetic justice. Yesterday the Texas Democrat resigned her posts as chairman of a House Judiciary subcommittee and the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation following a wrongful termination suit filed earlier this month by an ex-female staffer identified in court documents as “Jane Doe.” The former aide, who seeks $75,000 in damages, had been fired last spring after stating her intent to pursue legal action against a former foundation employee, Damien Jones, who allegedly raped her back in the fall of 2015, a time during which she interned for another House member. Lee has denied wrongdoing from the start. But increasing pressure from black colleagues helped persuade her to step down.

Now in her 13th term in office, Sheila Jackson Lee represents the heavily black 18th District of Texas, which encompasses a large portion of Houston. … Read More ➡ “Sheila Jackson Lee Resigns from Subcommittee, Foundation in Wake of Ex-Staffer Suit”

Kamala Harris Goes to Bat for the SEIU

Kamala Harris, the junior U.S. senator from California, is a woman in a hurry. Elected in 2016, Harris today announced her candidacy for president in 2020. “I’m running for president of the United States, and I’m very excited about it,” she told ABC’s “Good Morning America.” Her track record, however, suggests she would be the kind of president who among other things would cut ethical corners on behalf of labor unions. Back in 2015, Harris, as California attorney general, helped a powerful affiliate of the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) scotch the purchase of a half-dozen nonprofit health care facilities by a corporate buyer to protect union jobs. While a federal judge twice has dismissed allegations by the buyer, Prime Healthcare, that she abused her office, the case deserves another look.

Kamala Devi Harris, now 54, is a fast-rising Democratic Party star. Of Indian and Jamaican descent, she’s emerged … Read More ➡ “Kamala Harris Goes to Bat for the SEIU”

Independent Union President in Oregon Pleads Guilty

On December 20, John Burgess, former president of Pacific Stainless Products Employee Association Local 304, pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court for the District of Oregon to one count of concealment or destruction of financial records of the St. Helens-based union. He had been indicted in September on one count of embezzling about $35,000 and one count of concealment. The actions follow an investigation by the U.S. Labor Department’s Office of Labor-Management Standards.… Read More ➡ “Independent Union President in Oregon Pleads Guilty”

Top Ten Union Corruption Stories of the Year

The year 2018 saw the indictment, conviction and sentences of plenty of organized labor scams. New York City played host to some of the largest. For sheer magnitude, nothing anywhere could match the network of union fraud surrounding the construction of Hudson Yards, a large-scale, mixed-use development on Manhattan’s West Side. Set for completion in 2024, the project from the start has been a source of easy money for labor organizations affiliated with the Building and Construction Trades Council of Greater New York. The general contractor, Related Companies, having reached the limits of frustration, filed suit last March with the State Supreme Court against the council and its president for promoting or allowing illegal practices that allegedly have added over $100 million to the total project cost.

In other cases from the Big Apple, the president of a United Industrial and Service Employees local, Rocco Fazzolari, pleaded guilty … Read More ➡ “Top Ten Union Corruption Stories of the Year”