Labor Department Sues N.W. Indiana Carpenters Pension Trustees

A sweetheart land deal continues to produce heartaches for those involved. On June 30 the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) sued six persons involved with a decision by the Northwest Indiana Regional Council of Carpenters Trust Fund to invest $10 million in a major real estate development near Chesterton, Ind. Back in 1998 the pension board had voted to approve the purchase, at an inflated price, of a 55-acre tract of land in the 640-acre Coffee Creek planned community in Chesterton, Ind. Now the Labor Department wants Gerry Nannenga and other trustees refund all losses incurred in the deal. The suit also names former Indiana Democratic Chairman Peter Manous, Kevin Pastrick and C. Paul Ihle as defendants. They, along with Nannenga, were convicted last year on federal corruption charges. Nannenga had taken a $45,000 bribe from Pastrick and Manous to vote for the purchase.    


The DOL contends that the four Read More ➡

Third Colorado Meatpackers UFCW Official Charged

ufcw_intl_logo_1_Corruption at Local 990 at the United Food and Commercial Workers was a family affair. Last year Barbara Ann Hayes, a bookkeeper for the Greeley, Colo. meatpackers union, pleaded guilty to embezzlement. This past June 20 her brother, Stephen Bush, a former local vice-president, was indicted by a federal grand jury in Denver on 51 counts of embezzling more than $22,000. Their father, ex-local president Ronald Bush, is now the latest casualty.

In a complaint dated June 29, federal prosecutors accused the elder Bush of diverting about $8,000 in union funds toward his own personal use, much of it related to trips to Las Vegas. Bush waived his right to be charged by a federal grand jury, and was released on bond. Local 990 no longer exists, having been disbanded by the national union. Former rank-and-file members now belong to UFCW Local 7, which covers workers at the Swift packing Read More ➡

Feds Sue Two Chicago-Area Benefit Plan Managers

The U.S. Department of Labor on June 29 filed a complaint against a pair of firms based in the south suburban Chicago community of Crete, Ill., alleging they had improperly charged fees to the pension and welfare plans of six union locals.  Joseph/Anthony & Associates Inc., a plan administrator, and its president Michael Linder, were named in the suit.  Also charged were Liz/Mar and Associates Inc. and its president, Elizabeth Linder, who also is Michael Linder’s wife.  The government is seeking restitution of an unspecified amount.


This isn’t the first time that the male half of this aspiring power couple has been in trouble.  In January 2004 Mr. Linder was indicted by a federal grand jury in Rockford, Ill. for mismanaging the pension plans of two Ironworkers Union locals.  (Daily Southtown, 7/7).      



Pittsburgh Ex-Secretary Sentenced for Embezzlement

Sonya Read More ➡

Ex-D.C. Boss Testifies; More Funds Could Be Missing

Barbara Bullock, president of the Washington Teachers Union (WTU) from 1994 to 2002, had very expensive tastes.  When it came to silverware, crystal, custom-tailored clothes and other personal items, only the best would do.  The problem is that she siphoned off union funds in order to pay for them, using the local’s American Express card to make $1.2 million in illegal purchases.  In all, she and top aides ripped off about $5 million in funds until their national affiliate, the American Federation of Teachers (AFT), removed them from office; FBI raids soon would follow.  Bullock pleaded guilty to embezzlement in October 2003, and the following January received a nine-year prison sentence.


Though several other conspirators also had pleaded guilty to participating in the scam, three of her partners in crime insisted on fighting charges.  Bullock, a cooperating witness, now has come back to haunt Read More ➡

Niagara LIUNA Enforcer Pleads Guilty to Racketeering

Another domino has fallen in the strange, violent saga of Laborers Local 91. For years the local dictated the terms of hiring at construction sites in Niagara County, N.Y. Their targets were nonunion workers and any contractor foolish enough to hire them. Their preferred methods of enforcement were vandalism, assault and extortion. In a predawn raid in 2002 federal agents arrested more than a dozen union members. In recent weeks, two of them, Anthony Cerrone and Andrew Shomers, pleaded guilty to racketeering.


Reading the tea leaves, Salvatore Bertino has become the next to go down. The 53-year-old former local vice president pleaded guilty on Tuesday, June 21 to racketeering conspiracy. At his hearing, Bertino cited five incidents in which Local 91 President Mark Congi directed him and others to engage in extortion. Seven other union officials, including Congi, are set to go on trial later this year. (BuffaloRead More ➡

Colorado Meat Packers Ex-Vice President Indicted

ufcw_intl_logo_1_Working in a slaughterhouse was never for the weak of heart.  It’s understandable that people who make a living that way would want to indulge in a few luxuries once in a while.  But Stephen Bush, 43, former vice-president of United Food and Commercial Workers Local 990, believed that luxuries could be paid for out of the pockets of unsuspecting dues-paying members.  Now his career as an embezzler is as defunct as the local itself.  Bush was indicted on June 20 by a federal grand jury in Denver on 51 counts of embezzlement following a Department of Labor probe.


Labor Department officials for years had been investigating financial irregularities at the local, which at one point represented some 2,800 meat-processing plant workers in Greeley, Colo.  Certain plant employees contacted the department to initiate an investigation.  As it turned out, Bush likely used his union credit card to buy $22,514 Read More ➡

Bonanno Crime Boss Gets Two Life Terms

They still call Joseph Massino “the Last Don.” But the 62-year-old boss of New York’s Bonanno crime family doesn’t have much of an organization to run anymore. Even Casablanca, the three-star restaurant in Queens that he co-owns, is now part of his past. On Thursday, June 23 a federal judge in Brooklyn, N.Y. made certain of that. “As boss of the Bonanno family, I gave the order,” said Massino. He was referring to his order to murder Gerlando Sciacia, a family captain whose body later was found in the Bronx. Massino was convicted for that crime, and for racketeering, last year. He was ordered to pay $10.3 million to the government as proceeds, a figure reduced to $9 million at the June hearing. U.S. District Judge Nicholas G. Garaufis handed down two consecutive life sentences.  

This past January Massino had done something unthinkable in Mafia circles; Read More ➡

NW Indiana Carpenters Local Faces Takeover by International Union

United Brotherhood of Carpenters and Joiners Local 1005 has a major problem on its hands: The person who runs it is under indictment. Paul Hernandez, president of the Hobart, Ind.-based local, with more than 1,100 members, was charged in federal court in May with 21 counts of theft and wire fraud. Also indicted was Kenneth Castaldi, of Elkton, Wisc., who ran the local’s apprenticeship program. At issue was the pair’s handling of an Indiana Department of Commerce training grant.

A three-member panel of the international union is set to hold a hearing on July 6 to give rank-and-file members the opportunity to voice their concerns. “We’ve been receiving complaints about (Local) 1005 from members for a long time, and they increased after Paul Hernandez was indicted,” said Tony Mroczkiewicz, the union’s Midwest District representative. Hernandez had taken over the local after Gerry Nannenga was elevated to secretary-treasurer of the Indiana-Kentucky Read More ➡

Delaware Ex-Treasurer Sentenced

On June 8 in U.S. District Court, Julie Messick, former treasurer for Carpenters Local 2001, was sentenced to one year of probation for embezzling union funds.  Back in February Messick had pleaded guilty following an investigation by the Labor Department’s Office of Labor-Management Standards.  She already has made restitution of nearly $11,800.  (OLMS, 6/28). 


California Ex-Secretary Pleads Guilty to Embezzlement  

On June 20, Martha Bautista, former secretary-treasurer for Local Lodge 1528 for the Machinists union, pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court to embezzling union funds of an amount of more than $5,000 but less than $10,000.  But her real haul was a lot more than what she’d been charged with taking.  On May 6 Bautista had made an initial payment of $50,000 toward the $165,259.27 in restitution due to the union.  (OLMS, 6/28). 


Former President of NYC Union Read More ➡

Co-Conspirator in Pension Scam Testifies Before Congress

It was the largest case of pension fraud in U.S. history.  And it played a major part in how one firm in short order managed to lose $350 million, mostly in the form of union investments.  A convicted mastermind of the scheme, Barclay Grayson, now out of prison, is seeking to make amends.  He recently provided a Congressional panel with some practical advice on how to prevent repeat performances.   


Grayson was president of a now-defunct Portland, Ore.-based investment group, Capital Consultants LLC.  In testimony June 9 before the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee, he explained how he and several associates had built their company on an edifice of mail fraud, money laundering, bribery and racketeering.  That Capital Consultants (CCL) managed to operate in this manner for as long as it did, explained Grayson, was due in part to the Department of Read More ➡