Silicon Valley Union Accused of Embezzlement & Illegal Politicking

When she headed the South Bay AFL-CIO Labor Council (SBLC), Amy Dean was referred to as the “unofficial mayor” of San Jose, Calif.  She is now in Chicago, but she and her successor, Phaedra Ellis-Lamkins, are accused of fraud and embezzlement by a frmr. employee.  And they have repeatedly failed to disclose the tax forms of a non-profit organization that works closely with the labor council.


When Dean first took over as the South Bay council’s political director, she formed a non-profit group called Working Partnerships USA (WPUSA).  At first, SBLC provided free rent and labor to WPUSA.  As the grants came rolling in, that relationship shifted as WPUSA began paying SBLC for rent and administration — $439,000 between 2001 and 2003.  Dean and Ellis-Lamkins have refused to provide any records to confirm their claim that the two organizations operate at arm’s Read More ➡

9-11 Lay-Off Fund Ripped Off

Tom Robbins of the Village Voice reports more disturbing details of a possible case of embezzlement from the AFL-CIO’s Long Island affiliate reported in the previous issue of Union Corruption Update.  The suspected theft of $150,000 apparently came from a union job training fund designed to help Long Island workers recover from post-9-11 layoffs.  Even more embarrassing, the suspect is a former office aide who is a close friend of longtime fedtn. president Jack Caffey.


Fedtn. Spokesman Mark Grossman said that an audit was under way, and also said there would be no comment by fedtn. officials until the audit is completed.  Last month, Caffey told an emergency meeting of his board that $50,000 was missing from the job training funds, and that a frmr. employee was making restitution payments.  But union sources familiar with the incident told Robbins that this was the second Read More ➡

S. Florida Union Boss’s Racketeering Trial finally Begins

After 2 1/2 years, the racketeering trial of Walter Browne finally began on April 8.  Walter J. Browne runs the Federation of Public and Private Employees, a 7,000-member union of mostly blue-collar government employees such as school custodians, jailhouse guards and city truck drivers.  According to Asst. U.S. Attny. Lawrence LaVecchio, Browne solicited and took $500,000 from 8 companies during the 1990s in “consulting” fees to avoid unionization.


The president of Broward County‘s most powerful government employee union took payoffs from companies who didn’t want to be unionized, federal prosecutors charged in the opening day of the union boss’s racketeering trial.  Browne is also charged with giving his sister, Patricia Devaney, a union-owned car as a gift and charging the union for personal travel and phone calls. He also faces state charges for allegedly running a high-stakes poker game at the union hall.  Devaney Read More ➡

NY Fed. Judge Allows Racketeering Case to Go Forward

A company that claimed that a union tried to use fraud and extortion to force it out of business was allowed to pursue its racketeering claim against the union.  Although the company stated only four acts related to the claim, they were all related to the alleged scheme and, because they threatened to continue, satisfied the continuity requirement.


Andrea Doreen Ltd. sued Building Material Local Union 282 and the trustees of its pension funds for violations of the Racketeer Influenced & Corrupt Organizations (RICO) Act.  Doreen alleged that, in retaliation for its refusal to make unlawful payments to the trust funds, the union and the trustees conspired to put it out of business by slowing down work at its site by:  forcing slowdowns at Doreen’s work site by using physical threats and a pit bull to intimidate workers; Inflating the number of hours union drivers claimed Read More ➡

Zogby Poll Finds Support for Union Accountability Among Union Members

The renowned pollster John Zogby has found that a strong majority of union members support requiring union bosses to give detailed reports of union finances to discourage union corruption, and the Right to Work without paying union dues as a condition of employment.  The poll was conducted for, and released by, the Public Service Research Fdtn. (PSRF) on March 4.


The Zogby poll was conducted from Feb. 5-9 this year, with 1,207 adults interviewed to form the sample group.  According to the poll, 73 pct. of Americans agree that individual wrkrs. should be free to decide for themselves whether to financially support a union, regardless of whether they are represented by that union.  Even 54 pct. of union members agree with that statement.


AFL-CIO chief John Sweeney has claimed that recent reforms of the financial disclosure forms required to be filed with the U.S. Dept. Read More ➡

He’ll Be Back, Philly Union Boss Promises

Sherman Harris, a frmr. official of Philadelphia’s biggest govt. union, admitted no wrongdoing before he was sentenced to 2 yrs. in prison for taking kickbacks from city contractors.  And the “once-and-future” exec. asst. of Dist. Council 33 of the Amer. Fedtn. of State, County & Municipal Employees (AFSCME) said he expected to be rehired to his $72,000-a-yr. job once he completes his jail term.  Dist. Council 33 president Herman “Pete” Matthews defended Harris’s character at an earlier hearing.


Harris was 1 of 18 city supervisors indicted in the kickback scheme, which fed. prosecutors said cost taxpayers $2.1 million from 1993-99.  During that period, father-and-son owners of AAA Electric Motor, John and Nicholas Fafalios, paid the supervisors to approve invoices that were either grossly inflated or included work never done.  Harris personally took $45,803 from the Fafalios.  He was convicted in Oct. of 2002.

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AFL-CIO Slapped Back in Effort to Stop Disclosure Reforms

U.S. Dist. Judge Gladys Kessler (D.C., Clinton) upheld the U.S. Dept. of Labor’s improved disclosure forms required of the nation’s largest unions on Jan. 22.  She delayed the implementation of the new LM-2 financial forms until July of this year, provided that the DOL makes available a fully tested version of its electronic reporting software at least ninety days before July.  With this ruling, unions with over $250,000 in annual income will likely have to account for their use of union dues for political activities in the 2nd half of this election yr.


Late last yr., Kessler issued a preliminary injunction suspending the new forms for all of 2004.  But on the 22nd, she ruled that when Congress enacted the Labor-Mgmt. Reporting & Disclosure Act (LMRDA) in 1959, it “gave the Secretary [of Labor] broad authority to require the filing of financial reports…[and] that Congress delegated Read More ➡

Ex-President Indicted for Embezzlement in CT Fed. Court

Kevin J. O’Connor, U.S. Attny. for the Dist. of Conn. announced on Jan. 26 the indictment and arrest of Allen Cahill on charges of embezzling union funds and willfully failing to keep union records.  The two-count indictment was filed by a Grand Jury sitting in New Haven on Oct. 7, 2003, but was kept sealed until Cahill was arrested. 


According to that indictment, while he was President of Local 745 of the  Paper, Allied-Industrial, Chem. and Energy Wrkrs. Union (PACE), Cahill embezzled, stole, and converted to his own use approximately $42,047 in union funds by using the union’s debit card to make cash withdrawals or to purchase items of a personal nature, by increasing his salary as union president without authorization, and by obtaining travel funds for trips he either never took or union trips on which he brought his family along with him.  Cahill Read More ➡

Reelected Chief of DC 37 Accused of Smears

Charles Ensley, narrowly defeated in his campaign to become exec. dir. of the biggest govt. union in NYC, accused the victorious incumbent, Lillian Roberts, of “smears and untruths” in the campaign.  Roberts got 53 pct. of the vote to Ensley’s 47 pct. in the Jan. 27 election of officers of Dist. Council 37, the troubled affiliate of the Amer. Fedtn. of State, County & Municipal Employees (AFSCME).  A string of rigged votes on contracts and officers, and nearly $6 million in kickbacks and financial thefts, led to the conviction of more than 30 union officials in the late 90s.


Roberts was first elected to head DC 37 nearly 2 yrs. ago, after the city union was released from a trusteeship imposed by AFSCME.  Since then, she has come under fire for a contract awarded to her nephew.  Three days after the DC 37 exec. bd. Read More ➡

Ex-Calif. President Charged with Embezzling More than He Admitted

Local prosecutors filed a felony embezzlement charge against Robert Gilstrap, who turned himself in to Clovis police on Jan. 22.  According to Fresno County Deputy Dist. Attny. John Savrnoch, Gilstrap embezzled the funds from the Clovis Public Works Employees Affiliation over the 10 yrs. that he was president and treasurer of the union, until May 2003.  The local union has since affiliated with the Intl. Union of Operating Engineers.  When he resigned last year, Gilstrap admitted to stealing $58,000.  Auditors for the union say that Gilstrap actually stole $96,519.  Clovis police spokeswoman Janet Stoll-Lee told the Fresno Bee, “There was no firm figure listed when we turned it in to the district attorney’s office.  We are estimating it’s about $80,000.”  Gilstrap is currently free on $5,000 bail. [Fresno Bee, 1/23/04]


Dallas Jury Issues Split Verdict on Frmr. Union ChiefRead More ➡