Racketeering Trial of Brother & Sister Proceeds in Fla. Fed. Court

Federal prosecutors presented a picture of a union existing solely to serve its founder and his sister in a trial that began on April 14.  Walter Browne and his sister, Patricia Devaney, are on trial in the U.S. Dist. Ct. for the Sou. Dist. for Fla. on racketeering, fraud and embezzlement charges. 


Debra Weiler testified that she met Browne when he created the Natl. Fedtn. of Public Employees (NFPE) in 1994, splitting it off from the Marine Engineers Beneficial Assn.  According to Weiler, the NFPE’s secy.-treasurer complained that he was denied access to the union’s financial records.  She also testified that Browne and Devaney had exclusive use of 2 out of 6 union cars.  In Devaney’s case, Weiler said, it was hardly ever used for union business.  Weiler, however, said she had to use her own car to cash union checks for Devaney Read More ➡

New Study Blames Union Corruption on Compulsory Unionism

What a back-porch light is to moths, compulsory unionism is to con artists and Mafia bosses, acc. to a new monograph prepared for the Natl. Institute for Labor Relations Research (NILRR) by veteran journalist Carl Horowitz.  In the monograph, entitled Union Corruption in America: Still a Growth Industry, Horowitz writes that union crooks, although similar in many regards to other crooks, are unique in that “for decades [they] have had an unwitting assist from government.”


Under the 1935 Natl. Labor Relations Act, he explains, private-sector unions “reserve the right of exclusive representation in all 50 states.  That is, once a union is reckoned by a national labor agency to have the support of a majority of employees in a federally delineated ‘bargaining unit,’ the union speaks for all covered workers, regardless of their personal desires.  If a group of workers perceive their union to be Read More ➡

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.

 Read More ➡

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 ➡