The Northwest Indiana District Council of the United Brotherhood of Carpenters and Joiners has gone through a rocky past few years. They aren’t getting any smoother either. This past May, Gerry Nannenga, formerly council secretary-treasurer, was sentenced to 18 months in federal prison for accepting bribes in connection with a scheme to purchase a 55-acre tract of land with $10 million in union pension money. The land, part of the Coffee Creek planned community project in Chesterton, Ind., actually was worth only about $5 million. Nannenga, a trustee of the pension plan, also faces a civil suit filed by the Labor Department in August against him and several other trustees. Now comes more bad news. On December 7, the Justice Department announced it had charged the district council’s former office manager, Sally Collins, 51, with stealing $300,697 during March 1995-July 2001. Prosecutors also named her husband, Robert Collins, … Read More ➡
On November 14, Henry Michael Turner, ex-treasurer for National Federation of Federal Employees Local 2058, pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court, District of Maryland, to one count of making false statements in union records. Turner had concealed his embezzlement of $40,474 in union funds. The guilty plea follows an investigation by the U.S. Department of Labor’s Office of Labor-Management Standards. NFFE, an affiliate of the Service Employees International union, represents federal and District of Columbia local government employees. (OLMS, 12/6).
BLET Bookkeeper in Washington State Indicted for Embezzlement
On November 9, Kimberly Solheim, ex-bookkeeper for Division 402 of the (Teamsters-affiliated) Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers and Trainmen, was indicted in U.S. District Court on one count of embezzlement. She is accused of stealing $14,635 in local funds and entering false information in union records to cover up the theft. The indictment follows an investigation by the Labor Department. BLET Division 402 … Read More ➡
It’s hardly front-page news that union corruption in this country goes back many decades. What may be less obvious is that some of the best exposes of organized labor’s goons and embezzlers have come from critics within their ranks. A new book, scheduled for February release, makes a strong case for union leaders to pay more attention to dissenters, and in the process avoid having to deal with cops, prosecutors and the courts later on. Written by former professor (Cornell, NYU) and longtime union organizer Robert Fitch, it’s called Solidarity for Sale: How Corruption Destroyed the Labor Movement and Undermined America’s Promise (Public Affairs Press). It makes for a superb companion to Linda Chavez and Daniel Gray’s Betrayal: How Union Bosses Shake Down Their Members and Corrupt American Politics and Herman Benson’s Rebels, Reformers and Racketeers: How Insurgents Transformed the Labor Movement (Association of … Read More ➡
At first reading, it seems like a travesty of justice. But the acquittals of all three defendants in the recent criminal trial of two highly-paid ranking Longshoremen officials and an underworld associate should be placed in context. The jury in that Brooklyn, N.Y. federal courtroom, after hearing several weeks of testimony, on November 8 acquitted ILA officials Harold Daggett and Arthur Coffey, plus a reputed Genovese crime family mobster, Lawrence Ricci, whose whereabouts have been unknown for about two months. A fourth defendant, Albert Cernadas, pled guilty before the trial began. What likely turned the tide against the prosecution, despite the compelling evidence for a guilty verdict, was the testimony of Daggett, assistant general organizer and head of New Jersey’s powerful Local 1804-1, and more specifically his recollections of an encounter long ago with a star witness for the prosecution, George Barone (see photo).
Barone, 81, a former … Read More ➡
Nathan Saunders didn’t quite get the closure he was looking for. But the one he got will more than do. Saunders is currently vice president of the Washington Teachers Union (WTU). Back in 2002, as a high-school teacher in the city school system, he filed suit under the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act against several former WTU officials, the local’s parent affiliate American Federation of Teachers, and a Washington, D.C. financial institution, Independence Federal Savings Bank. The defendants, whose roster includes various convicted local officers, including now-imprisoned ex-President Barbara Bullock, had stolen at least $4.6 million during the period 1995-2002. Saunders spoke for a lot of dues-paying members in demanding full recovery of the money. He wound up getting about a tenth of his wish.
Late this November the WTU and AFT agreed to a settlement, approved by U.S. District Judge … Read More ➡
For years Patricia Morgan drove a school bus. Unknown to anyone, her husband had driven her nearly mad – and to crime. Morgan, 44, had served as treasurer for American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees Local 1397, which represents staff for the Superior, Wisconsin school district. During October 1999 to March 2005, police records show, she embezzled $75,515 from the local. Douglas County Circuit Court Judge Michael Lucci sentenced Morgan to 120 days in the county jail and five years probation; she also will have to make restitution.
As treasurer, Morgan was supposed to disburse money from members’ dues checks to various entities each month and deposit the remainder into a bank account. In a typical month, she siphoned off anywhere from $500 to $2,000 for her personal expenses, and apparently without keeping track of how much she’d taken. … Read More ➡
About the last thing a corrections officer needs is a criminal record. Inmates and wardens alike may have it in for him. Christopher Dehn, a former officer at Columbia Correctional Institution in Portage, Wisconsin, knows this unwritten rule too well. His dilemma is that he’ll have six months in the county jail to contemplate it. Dehn, 36, over a two-year period, embezzled tens of thousands of dollars from AFSCME Local 3394, which represents workers at the very corrections facility where he will serve time. He’d worked there from October 1999 until March of this year, when authorities discovered missing funds, concluding he was the culprit.
Dehn pleaded no contest, citing a need to cover gambling debts. His six-month sentence, handed down by Columbia County Circuit Court Judge Daniel George, may seem on the light side, especially given that it contains a work-release provision. But it could be extended … Read More ➡
Michael Rice had served as president of Local 538 of the United Food and Commercial Workers since the late 80s. On Tuesday, November 29, he found out how long he’ll have to serve in another capacity: six months as an inmate in prison, plus an additional three years of supervised release. Rice, a resident of Madison, had embezzled slightly over $30,000 from the local in the form of bogus expense claims filed between September 2000 and April 2004. He pleaded guilty in September and since has made restitution. In sentencing Rice, U.S. District Judge Barbara Crabb took note of the fact the some of his thefts took place during a bitter and unsuccessful strike in 2003. Local 538 represents a combined roughly 2,200 workers at two meatpacking plants and a dairy plant in southern Wisconsin. (Associated Press, 11/30).
Chicago-Area … Read More ➡
In the end, the jury wasn’t convinced. But that hardly means the prosecution wasn’t convincing. On Tuesday, November 8, a federal jury in Brooklyn, N.Y. acquitted all three defendants of conspiracy and fraud charges related to allegations they steered Longshoremen union benefit funds toward a mobbed-up pharmaceutical company. The fortunate ones are: Harold Daggett (in photo), the union’s assistant general organizer; Arthur Coffey, ILA vice president and Miami chieftain; and Lawrence Ricci, a reported Genovese crime family captain. While the verdict was a clear victory for the union, nagging questions remain – like the whereabouts of Ricci.
The leadership of the International Longshoremen’s Association, for now, is out of the woods. Longtime President John Bowers referred to the acquittals as “a wonderful day for the ILA.” By no coincidence, just two days later on November 10, Bowers announced the union would strengthen its Code of Ethics. Among other steps, … Read More ➡
More than once they’ve been called “the odd couple” of New York City politics. But an investigative report published in the October 25 edition of the Village Voice by Tom Robbins suggests the tight alliance between New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg and Staten Island Borough President James Molinaro, politically both Republicans but culturally worlds apart, goes well beyond typical City Hall back-scratching. In fact, the author alleges, it has the blessing of a supporting cast of shady businessmen and local unions. And this partnership has allowed certain elements of the Gambino and other crime families to operate with a freer hand than otherwise.
Bloomberg, whom Forbes magazine recently listed as worth $5 billion, is obviously too rich to be bought. He has asserted repeatedly that he doesn’t govern on the basis of patronage. But given that Staten Island went 4-to-1 for Bloomberg in his initial election in 2001, well…he … Read More ➡