The fall of Dennis Williams seemed as inevitable as it was anticlimactic. Yesterday, August 27, Williams, who was president of the United Auto Workers during 2014-18, was charged in Detroit federal court with conspiracy to embezzle funds from the 400,000-member union for his own use, including $56,000 for housing and luxury travel. His immediate successor, Gary Jones, had pleaded guilty in June to embezzlement, racketeering and tax fraud related to his diversion of over $1 million in UAW funds. As Williams allegedly conspired with Jones in some of these thefts, he will have a hard time convincing a jury of his innocence. More than a dozen union officials and auto executives thus far have pleaded guilty as part of an ongoing probe of the union by the FBI, the IRS and the Labor Department’s Office of Labor-Management Standards and Office of Inspector General.
Anyone doubting that health care providers enable union benefit fraud probably hasn’t looked at Southern California lately. Mahyar David Yadidi, a Los Angeles-area chiropractor, was sentenced yesterday in federal court to 46 months in prison for submitting about $4.8 million in fraudulent reimbursements to an International Longshore and Warehouse Union health plan, and ordered to pay nearly $2 million in restitution. Yadidi had pleaded guilty last November after being charged in September. Two clinic employees, Ivan Semerdjiev and Julian Williams, had received prison sentences, respectively, of one year and six months. The actions follow a probe by the U.S. Labor Department’s Office of Labor-Management Standards, Office of Inspector General, and Employee Benefits Security Administration, part of a larger investigation into Medicare and Medicaid fraud.
Mahyar David Hadidi, now 38, a resident of West Los Angeles, operated a chiropractic clinic in nearby San Pedro called Synergy Healthcare and Wellness Center. Unfortunately, … Read More ➡
The case of Sean Clark barely went noticed. And that was the way that the Somerville, Massachusetts Police Department seemed to like it – until the facts no longer could be hidden. Very recently, public radio station WBUR-FM in Boston, having examined a list of Commonwealth grand jury indictments involving law enforcement officers provided by the Middlesex County district attorney’s office, revealed that Clark had been convicted this March and sentenced in April for embezzling more than $83,000 during October 2017-January 2019 from his union, the Somerville Police Employees Association (SPEA). Officer Clark, who had a gambling problem, remains on the force, but probably not for long. The City of Somerville completed a probe at the end of March, and reportedly is recommending that he be fired.
On July 30, Rudy Ziegler, former secretary-treasurer of American Federation of Government Employees Local 446, was sentenced in U.S. District Court for the Western District of North Carolina to one year of probation and ordered to pay a $1,000 fine, and a $100 assessment, for defrauding the Asheville-based union out of $5,276. He previously paid restitution in the sum of $5,942. Ziegler had been charged with one count of wire fraud in March, and immediately pleaded guilty thereafter. The actions follow an investigation by the U.S. Labor Department’s Office of Labor-Management Standards.… Read More ➡
It was a case of mother-daughter teamwork. But nobody in their union seems impressed. Last Thursday, on August 13, Linda Rogers, former secretary-treasurer of American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) Local 2254, along with her daughter, Jennifer Rogers, were charged in U.S. District Court for the District of New Jersey with one count each of embezzlement and conspiracy to embezzle from the Jersey City-based union in a sum exceeding $40,000. They were released on bond following their initial court appearance. The charges follow an investigation by the U.S. Labor Department’s Office of Labor-Management Standards.
AFSCME Local 2254 represents employees at Jersey City Medical Center, including clerical workers, therapists and housekeepers. Unfortunately, a portion of their dues went for the personal enrichment of the Rogers duo. According to prosecutors, Linda Rogers, now 71, and Jennifer Rogers, now 38, each a resident of Jersey City, during July 2016-August 2017 … Read More ➡
On July 15, Robert Kurtycz, former comptroller for Workers United’s Chicago and Midwest Regional Joint Board, was sentenced in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois to one day in prison (suspended) and three years of supervised release, including one year of home confinement, for conspiracy to commit commercial bribery and wire fraud in relation to his receipt of $85,962 in unauthorized expense reimbursements. He also must pay full restitution and a $200 special assessment. The Chicago-based Joint Board, like Workers United, is an affiliate of the Service Employees International Union. He had pleaded guilty this February after being indicted in May 2019. The actions follow an investigation by the U.S. Labor Department’s Office of Labor-Management Standards, Office of Inspector General and Employee Benefits Security Administration. … Read More ➡
On August 5, Misty Fain, former office manager for Laborers International Union of North America Local 120, was charged in Marion County, Indiana Superior Court in a three-count information with theft of funds from the Indianapolis-based union in a sum of at least $750 and less than $50,000. The charges follow an investigation by the U.S. Labor Department’s Office of Labor-Management Standards.… Read More ➡
Benefit fraud in the construction industry has become disturbingly common, especially in the New York City area. On July 30, Donal O’Sullivan, president and owner of Navillus Contracting, Inc., helped by two other Navillus executives, his sister Helen O’Sullivan and Padraig Naughton, respectively, treasurer and controller, were indicted in Brooklyn federal court on 11 counts related to their alleged defrauding of union benefit plans of more than $1 million over six years. The defendants were arrested, arraigned and then released on bail. In an August 3 letter to clients, Donal O’Sullivan stated, “These allegations are against us personally, and we have no choice but to commit ourselves to clearing our names.” All three defendants have stepped aside “temporarily,” with company operations chief Colin Mathers taking over as interim CEO.
For nearly a half-decade, Tony Westly enriched himself at union expense. The consequences won’t be nearly as rewarding. On August 7, Westly, former business manager and secretary-treasurer for Operative Plasterers and Cement Masons International Association Local 148, was sentenced in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Georgia to six months in prison and three years of probation, six months of which must be spent in home confinement, for embezzling funds from the Atlanta-based union. He also was ordered to pay more than $100,000 in restitution plus a $100 special assessment. Westly had pleaded last November after being charged in October. The actions follow an investigation by the U.S. Labor Department’s Office of Labor-Management Standards.
Plasterers and Cement Masons Local 148 represents about 650 members in eight Southeastern states. Its treasury is also somewhat short on funds. According to prosecutors, Westly during January 2013-June 2017 embezzled $103,698.75 in union … Read More ➡
Longevity isn’t in the cards for everyone. But Herman Benson, who died last month at his home in Brooklyn, N.Y. at the age of 104, was one of the lucky ones. And those of us who make a living fighting corruption and gangsterism in organized labor are luckier for it. Benson, among other things, edited a weekly tabloid; helped draft the Landrum-Griffin Act, which is the basis for union financial accountability in this country; and for the last half-century ran the Association for Union Democracy (AUD), a Brooklyn-based nonprofit advocate for honest unionism. Though of the Left, Benson’s legacy is instructive across the political spectrum. “He was a one-man army in the union democracy movement for over 50 years,” notes Ken Paff, co-founder of Teamsters for a Democratic Union.
Make no mistake, Benson was a labor socialist. Yet he displayed a consistent willingness to denounce union leaders who operated … Read More ➡