“An outstanding citizen, an outstanding cleric, and a person to be emulated” – that was Patrick Gillespie, head of the 35,000-member AFL-CIO Building and Trades Council for the Philadelphia area, describing the director of a local religious school now on trial for fraud, bribery and extortion. The object of Gillespie’s admiration was Shamsud-din Ali, a Muslim cleric (or “imam”), who ran Philadelphia’s Sister Clara Muhammad School – or perhaps more accurately, ran it into the ground. But it’s where Ali, a convicted murderer, got his money that may interest prosecutors as much as where the money went. Last month he was slapped with a superseding indictment in Philadelphia federal court.
The imam’s trial is the third resulting from a federal probe into financial mismanagement in Philadelphia. Investigators discovered that on November 30, 1999 a $15,000 donation from a group called the Friends of Labor was deposited into the … Read More ➡
Local 933 of the American Federation of Government Employees for the last few years has been in financial shambles. The explanation lies at the top. The local’s leadership operated their union like a personal bank. A series of investigations, most recently by the Detroit News, reveal a disturbing pattern of embezzlement and other forms of malfeasance.
The problems of the local, which represents nearly 1,200 employees at John Dingell Veterans Hospital in Detroit, became apparent after Chetham Brazill, president of the local, left his position in December 2002. When first elected to office in 1997, Brazill inherited a union with a surplus of $66,000. Five years later he and his cronies had left the union in debt. The local had fallen behind by more than $50,000 in forwarding dues to AFGE national headquarters and more than $40,000 in insurance premiums … Read More ➡
The Department of Justice has taken a dramatic step to combat Chicago’s most feared gangsters. In the process, any number of crooked union officials may have a change in career plans. On Monday, April 25, the U.S. Attorney’s Office, Northern District of Illinois, announced the indictment of 14 top members of the Chicago Mafia, also known as ‘The Chicago Outfit,’ for crimes spanning some four decades. Three of the defendants already were in federal custody on separate charges. Another, straight out of a movie, was found dead, apparently of natural causes, when agents came to arrest him. Of the 11 defendants indicted under the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO), seven had committed murders or agreed to commit murder. Collectively, they accounted for 18 previously unsolved murders and one attempted murder during the period 1970-86. Other crimes listed in the nine-count indictment include extortion, loan-sharking, bookmaking, witness intimidation, … Read More ➡
On March 29, 2005, in the United States District Court for the Middle District of Pennsylvania, Terry Aldrich, former president of the Westfield Tanning Employees Association, was sentenced to two months in prison followed by three years probation for embezzlement. In addition, Aldrich will be subject to four months of electronic monitoring and he must pay restitution in the amount of $54,770 (payable in the minimum of $50.00 monthly installments). On September 15, 2004, Aldrich pled guilty to embezzling union funds in excess of $39,000.
Also on March 29, 2005, in the United Stated District Court for the Middle District of Pennsylvania, Robert Moon, former secretary-treasurer of the Westfield Tanning Employees Association, was sentenced to two months in prison followed by three years probation for embezzlement. Upon release, Moon will be subject to electronic monitoring for four months. Moon must pay restitution in the amount of … Read More ➡
Robert Persico, a Scarsdale, N.Y. businessman, can add one more notch to his mob connections. Persico, 40, head of the Mount Vernon, N.Y.-based Persico Contracting and Trucking, was charged with bribing officials of Locals 14 and 15 of the International Union of Operating Engineers. Earlier, he had been indicted for conspiring with a reputed Gambino family capo, Gregory DePalma, also from Scarsdale, to extort another construction company and transport stolen luxury goods.
The indictment of Persico marks the second time in recent memory that a prominent Westchester County contractor has been indicted in connection with a federal investigation into IUOE corruption. Last December, John Amicucci, president of DeFoe Corp., along with officials at four other construction companies, was charged with labor racketeering with members of the Gambino crime family. Additionally, more than 40 contractors, union officials, and members of the Genovese and … Read More ➡
Michael Forde, head of the New York City District Council of Carpenters, has led a charmed life for the past year. On April 27, 2004, a jury found Forde and a co-defendant guilty of taking a bribe from a mob-controlled contractor. However, because of a legal technicality, he continues to run the 25,000-member union.
Forde was among more than three dozen persons indicted in September 2000 by Manhattan District Attorney Robert Morgenthau. A mob-linked contractor testified that Forde took money to look the other way while he used nonunion labor on a midtown hotel project. After the conviction, Forde’s lawyers asked that the verdict be set aside because of jury misconduct allegations. Manhattan Supreme Court Justice Jeffrey Atlas held hearings on the matter, and put off sentencing seven times between last June and November. He has yet to rule on the … Read More ➡
Seeking to uphold union democracy, the American Civil Liberties Union of Washington and Public Citizen filed suit on April 14 backing the free speech rights of a union member running for office. The suit was filed on behalf of Joseph Hughes to secure his right to speak with fellow members of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW).
Hughes is running for Business Manager in the June election of IBEW Local 46, in the Seattle area. Hughes is challenging a Local 46 rule that forbids candidates from discussing the union election or having political paraphernalia – including buttons or bumper stickers – anywhere on the union’s premises, including the hallways of the union hall or even in the union parking lot. Because the union runs a hiring hall to which members come daily from surrounding counties in order to secure work, the rule limits a candidate’s … Read More ➡
The Bush administration has been rapidly expanding its audits of labor unions. Union officials are crying foul, claiming the administration is retaliating against their overwhelming support for Senator John Kerry in last year’s presidential election. But the primary legacy of the recent ramping up of investigations may be a thorough housecleaning of union of their criminal element.
The Department of Labor has released figures showing that during 1991-2000 the number of its audits of national and local unions fell from 1,080 to 206. By contrast, in 2004 the department performed more than 500 audits. And it expects to conduct even more this year, in large measure because of the planned addition of 48 full-time workers to its union-auditing unit this year. That represents a 14 percent increase in the face of personnel cuts in other areas.
Lary F. Yud, deputy director of the … Read More ➡
Wayne Kruse has some lessons to learn, not just teach. On March 8, Kruse, former president of the Lawrence, Kansas Education Association, an affiliate of the National Education Association, was charged with two counts of forgery and one count of theft in connection to the disappearance of nearly $100,000 in union funds. LEA’s current leadership discovered more than $97,000 missing from about $240,000 in dues deducted from members’ paychecks between November 2003 and August 2004. Sam Rabiola, a high school English teacher who succeeded Kruse as the local president, said he found the group’s finances in disarray. “There were no books,” he remarked. “There were some duplicate check stubs and that was about it. A lot of money had been spent and was unaccounted for.”
Kruse, a sixth-grade teacher who had headed the local union since 1999, would not be long at his job. Rabiola asked the Kansas chapter of … Read More ➡
Federal authorities say the Maryland State Teachers Assn. (MSTA) broke federal labor laws by “threatening and coercing” employees who sought company benefits denied by the union. According to the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) ruling at the end of March, union officials must stop such unfair practices as reprimanding workers petitioning for employment benefits or job reassignments and must post notices stating that they violated labor law.
The union, an affiliate of the Natl. Education Assn., is Maryland‘s largest union and represents about 60,000 public school employees. The labor board is the third government agency to find the union mistreated its employees. The Internal Revenue Service found in February 2004 that the union avoided payroll taxes by wrongfully denying employment benefits to union organizers. In May, the Maryland Department of Labor, Licensing and Regulation made a similar finding regarding unpaid state workers’ compensation and … Read More ➡