Machinists Secretary in Illinois Sentenced for Concealment

On July 8, Amber Blake, former secretary-treasurer for International Association of Machinists Local Lodge 124, was sentenced in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois to three years of probation for making a false entry in union financial records in order to conceal her theft from the Channahon (near Joliet) union. She also was ordered to pay restitution in the sum of $34,159 ($15,000 of it due by this September 11) and a $5,000 fine. Blake had pleaded guilty in December after being charged the previous month. The actions follow an investigation by the U.S. Labor Department’s Office of Labor-Management Standards.   … Read More ➡

NYC Police Union President, Treasurer Charged in $500K+ Benefit Scam

Police unions have been receiving much criticism these past couple months, and two trustees of a New York City police union benefit plan haven’t helped matters. Three days ago, July 13, Kenneth Wynder Jr., president of the Law Enforcement Employees Benevolent Association (LEEBA), was charged in U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York with defrauding the LEEBA annuity fund of more than $500,000 following his arrest. Separately, LEEBA Treasurer Steven Whittick was charged with obstruction and making false statements in the case. Acting U.S. Attorney Audrey Strauss explained, “Today we have charged two leaders of a union that represents local law enforcement officers for engaging in criminal conduct.” The charges follow a joint probe by the FBI, the IRS, the U.S. Labor Department and the City Comptroller’s Office.  

At the beginning of this month, Union Corruption Update analyzed the lengths to which police unions often … Read More ➡

Ex-UFCW President in North Carolina Sentenced for Embezzlement

Workers at a pork processing plant may not have the most pleasant job in the world, but at least some of them are feeling more confident about where their union dues are going. On July 8, Keith Ludlum, former president of United Food and Commercial Workers Local 1208, was sentenced in Raleigh federal court to 14 months in prison, and ordered to pay full restitution for conspiracy, for embezzling around $213,000 from the Tar Heel, N.C. union, which represents about 3,600 Smithfield employees in the Carolinas. He had pleaded guilty in January. The union’s former secretary-treasurer, the aptly-named Terry Slaughter, already has been sentenced for his role in the scheme. The actions follow a probe by the U.S. Labor Department’s Office of Labor-Management Standards (OLMS).

Union Corruption Update has covered this case several times since the guilty plea of Terry Slaughter in February 2019, which quickly led to a plea Read More ➡

Ex-President of Fort Knox AFGE Local Pleads Guilty to Fraud, Forgery

On June 25, Rocky Gannon, former president of American Federation of Government Employees Local 2302, pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court for the Western District of Kentucky to three counts of wire fraud and nine counts of securities forgery related to his diversion of $116,353 in funds from the union, which represents civilian personnel at Fort Knox, Ky. Gannon had been indicted last November. The actions follow an investigation by the U.S. Labor Department’s Office of Labor-Management Standards.  … Read More ➡

Secretary of Inland Empire Independent Union Sentenced for Role in Ripoffs

When it came to embezzlement, John J. Romero wasn’t in the same league as his father. But he learned the trade and is paying the price. On June 9, Romero was sentenced in U.S. District Court for the Central District of California to one year of home confinement, to be followed by two years of supervised release, for his role in the disappearance of nearly $800,000 from the health plan of the Colton (San Bernardino County)-based United Industrial and Service Workers of America. He, his sister and their mother each pleaded guilty in 2017 in connection with the thefts. His father, John S. Romero, union president, was convicted by a jury this February on 14 separate felony charges. The actions follow a probe by the U.S. Labor Department’s Office of Labor-Management Standards, Office of Inspector General and Employee Security Benefits Administration.

Union Corruption Update has been covering the Romero saga … Read More ➡

Ex-President of Maryland Police Union Charged with Embezzlement

On June 24, Sandra King, former president of the Federation of Police & Security – Alliance of Independent Workers, LLC, was charged in U.S. District Court for the District of Maryland with a criminal information of one count of embezzlement in an unspecified amount from the Owings Mills (suburban Baltimore) unions. The charge follows an investigation by the U.S. Labor Department’s Office of Labor-Management Standards.

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Police Union Grip on Cities Must Be Broken

AFSCME President Lee Saunders

It’s called “the blue wall of silence,” that seemingly impenetrable code of honor among cops who cover for fellow officers suspected of breaking the law. For decades, this code has been scrutinized but rarely as much as right now in the wake of the videotaped death of a black suspect, George Floyd, while in the custody of Minneapolis police. In addition to triggering demonstrations and riots, the incident, with less fanfare, has caused many people to call out the unions representing cops as being part of the problem. Critics argue that police unions often are more focused on shielding members from accountability than protecting the public or improving community relations. While riots and demands for the abolition of police forces are indefensible, there are legitimate concerns that police unions are doing more harm than good.     

There are currently about 700,000 law enforcement officers in this … Read More ➡

Texas Businessman Charged with Stealing $4.5M from California IUOE Local

Scott A. Wilson was a man of many disguises – especially when it came to the enterprises that he pretended to run. Now there is nothing left to disguise. Last Friday, June 26, Wilson, former director of the information technology department for International Union of Operating Engineers Local 3 and also a Texas-based businessman, was charged in Oakland federal court with defrauding the Alameda, Calif.-based union out of more than $4.5 million over a six-year period and diverting the funds to at least three front companies that he owned. Of that sum, he allegedly received about $2.5 million in kickbacks through a variety of schemes. He had been arrested in Texas and arraigned in Dallas federal court that day. The charges follow a joint investigation by the FBI and the Labor Department’s Office of Labor-Management Standards and Office of Inspector General.

Wilson, now 52, a resident of Corsicana (south of … Read More ➡

Transit Union Secretary in NW New Jersey Pleads Guilty to Embezzlement

Angel Garcia was a part-time bus driver. He also was a part-time thief. On June 23, Garcia, former financial secretary for Amalgamated Transit Union Local 1614, pleaded guilty in Newark federal court to embezzling about $117,000 in funds from the union, listed as based in Morris County and Sussex County, N.J. At various points during June 2014-May 2019, alleged prosecutors, he withdrew funds from three separate accounts to pay for rent, utilities, telephone, and other personal items and services, without executive board approval. Sentencing is set for November 17. He had been charged last December following an investigation by the U.S. Labor Department’s Office of Labor-Management Standards.… Read More ➡

Mobster Sentenced for Racketeering in Brooklyn UFCW Shakedowns

Frank Giovinco was a moneymaker for the Genovese crime family. But where he’s going, the financial opportunities are very limited. On June 22, Giovinco was sentenced in Manhattan federal court to four years in prison, plus three years of supervised release, for acts of racketeering and extortion in the diversion of large sums of funds from Local 1D and 2D of the United Food and Commercial Workers, each based in Brooklyn, to mob-controlled operations. He had been convicted by a jury last December. The secretary-treasurer of Locals 1D and 2D, respectively, Frank Cognetta and Vincent D’Acunto, already had pleaded guilty in March 2019 for their roles. Two prominent Genovese mobsters, Steven Arena and Vincent Esposito, also have been sent packing. The actions follow an investigation by the FBI, the U.S. Department of Labor and the NYPD.

The personality of Frank Giovinco, now 52, a resident of Syosset, N.Y., if … Read More ➡