Insurance Executive in New Jersey Sentenced for Role in $6.6M Scam

Lawrence Ackerman isn’t going to spend too much time behind bars, but his business career deservedly is over. On January 15, Ackerman, founder of two fake health insurance brokerages, was sentenced in Trenton, N.J. federal court to six months in prison and six months of home confinement for his role in a $6.6 million fraud scheme. He also was ordered to pay $1 million in restitution to the welfare fund of United Auto Workers Local 2326, now based in South River, N.J. Ackerman had pleaded guilty in December 2018 after being indicted in January 2017. His partner in crime, former union president Sergio Acosta, was sentenced a little over a year ago to three years of home confinement, and ordered to pay $32,000. The actions follow a probe by the Labor Department’s Office of Labor-Management Standards, Office of Inspector General and Employee Benefits Security Administration.

Lawrence Ackerman, now 55, a … Read More ➡

Top Ten Union Corruption Stories of the Year

Perhaps more than usual, corruption stories in 2019 involved the overlapping worlds of unions and politics. In Chicago, former Teamster boss John T. Coli Sr., whose ability to cut deals with City Hall and the Illinois legislature for years went virtually unchallenged, pleaded guilty in July to shaking down a television studio owner. One of his allies, State Senator Tom Cullerton, was hit with multiple embezzlement charges. In Boston, two city officials were convicted of putting the squeeze on a concert promoter on behalf of a Theatrical Employees local. In Philadelphia, an Electrical Workers business manager and seven other persons, including a city councilman, were indicted in January for embezzlement, wire fraud and bribery; a contractor and a fundraiser subsequently pleaded guilty.

The overlap of union and government interests was especially marked in the public sector. Unions, still smarting from the Supreme Court’s Janus ruling in 2018, … Read More ➡

Feds Cite Former UAW Presidents for Racketeering; File New Charges against Ex-Regional Boss

It’s official: The United Auto Workers has been declared a racket. On January 6, recently departed UAW President Gary Jones (in photo) and his immediate predecessor, Dennis Williams, were cited, albeit under assumed names, in Detroit federal court as participants in a racketeering enterprise. The designation was part of a new charge against Vance Pearson, former director of a major regional affiliate and a member of the union’s international executive board, of embezzlement conspiracy. U.S. Attorney Matthew Schneider had been hinting at such action these last few months. Jones had resigned his post under pressure in November. The actions follow a joint probe by the FBI, the IRS and the Labor Department’s Office of Labor-Management Standards and Office of Inspector General.

Union Corruption Update more than once has covered this scandal, the details of which provide a hard look into how the Detroit-based union, with around 400,000 active members, … Read More ➡

Genovese Mobster Sentenced for Brooklyn UFCW Racketeering, Another Convicted

New York City’s Genovese crime family is traveling a little lighter these days. And members of United Food and Commercial Workers Locals 1D and 2D are sleeping a little more easily. On November 15, Steven Arena, a longtime Genovese soldier, was sentenced in Manhattan federal court to one year in prison and three years of supervised release for his role in racketeering conspiracies involving two now-convicted Brooklyn UFCW officials, Frank Cognetta and Vincent D’Acunto. A few weeks later, on December 4, another Genovese made man, Frank Giovinco, was convicted by a trial jury in the same court of racketeering conspiracy related to the locals. These four persons along with another Genovese wiseguy, Vincent Esposito, had been indicted in January 2018 following a probe by the FBI, the Labor Department and the NYPD.

Union Corruption Update has covered this saga several times since the indictments of two years ago. United … Read More ➡

UAW Official in Ohio Indicted for Embezzlement

On January 8, Douglas Dye, former unit chairman of United Auto Workers Local 12, was charged in U.S. District for the Northern District of Ohio with one count of embezzling assets from the Toledo-based union in the sum of $8,443 and one count of falsifying union records to conceal the thefts. Prosecutors allege that during June 2013-April 2016, Dye, a union electrician, received more than 50 voucher payments from the local representing unauthorized lost work time. The indictment follows an investigation by the U.S. Labor Department’s Office of Labor-Management Standards.… Read More ➡

NYC-Area Longshoremen President Pleads Guilty to Extracting Bribes

Glenn Blicht sold out his union for a price. Now he’s on the verge of paying a different kind of price. On October 16, Justice Department officials announced that Blicht, former president of International Longshoremen’s Association Local 164, had pleaded guilty in Manhattan federal court two days earlier to demanding and accepting about $150,000 in bribes over several years from a representative of an employer in exchange for the union backing away from filing arbitration complaints against the company. He had been arrested and charged in July. As part of the plea deal, Blicht must forfeit $150,000 and pay restitution. He faces up to five years in prison. The employer representative already had pleaded guilty. The actions follow a joint probe by the FBI, the IRS and U.S. Labor Department’s Office of Inspector General and Employee Benefits Security Administration.

Union Corruption Update had reported on this story last summer. Glenn … Read More ➡

Civilian Technicians Secretary-Treasurer in Maryland Pleads Guilty; Sentenced

On December 11, John Scarcella, former secretary-treasurer of Association of Civilian Technicians Local 125, pleaded guilty in the Circuit Court of Baltimore County, Maryland to theft of $28,010 in funds from the Middle River, Md.-based union. He then was sentenced to 18 months in jail (suspended) and three years of unsupervised probation, and was ordered to pay the remaining restitution of $22,760. Scarcella had been charged in May following an investigation by the U.S. Labor Department’s Office of Labor-Management Standards.… Read More ➡

NLRB Restores Employer Right to Restrict Employee Email Organizing

An employer’s email system is as much private property as its computer equipment or real estate. The National Labor Relations Board once again, if belatedly, has affirmed this fact. On December 16, the board in Caesars Entertainment voted 3-1 to reestablish the right of an employer to restrict employee use of company email and other information technology during nonworking hours. The ruling overturns the board’s Obama-era ruling in Purple Communications, which had concluded employees have a statutory right to use employer email for union purposes. Employer groups see the decision as vindication of property rights, free speech rights, and especially cyber security. Union officials and supporters, understandably, are taking a different view.

With email having become established at the workplace, it was inevitable that disputes would arise over its availability to promote unions. Employers generally hold that their email systems ought to be used for workplace issues that advance … Read More ➡

AFGE Boss in Washington, D.C. Sentenced for Transporting Stolen Funds

On December 5, Audonus Duplessis, former president of American Federation of Government Employees Local 2463, was sentenced in U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia to 12 months and one day in prison, to be followed by three years of supervised probation and 300 hours of community service, for transporting $11,300 worth of stolen funds from the Washington, D.C. union to a Virginia location for the purpose of buying a car. The total sum stolen, however, was in excess of $80,000. AFGE Local 2463 represents employees at the Smithsonian Institution. Duplessis had pleaded guilty last October after being indicted in June. The actions follow a probe by the U.S. Labor Department’s Office of Labor-Management Standards.… Read More ➡

Transit Union Secretary in New Jersey Charged with Embezzlement

On December 5, Angel Luis Garcia, former financial secretary of Amalgamated Transit Union Local 1614, was charged in U.S. District Court for the District of New Jersey with one count of embezzlement of $117,000 in funds from the Dover (Morris County), N.J.-based union. The charge follows a probe by the U.S. Labor Department’s Office of Labor-Management Standards.… Read More ➡