UAW Secretary in Western Michigan Indicted for Embezzlement

On January 12, Brian Rittenhouse, former financial secretary of United Auto Workers Local 1320, was indicted in U.S. District Court for the Western District of Michigan on one count each for embezzlement and false record-keeping against the Grandville (near Grand Rapids) union. The charges follow a probe by the U.S. Labor Department’s Office of Labor-Management Standards.… Read More ➡

AFSCME Local Secretary-Treasurer in New Jersey Pleads Guilty

The guilty plea by Linda Rogers was inevitable. Look no further than her daughter for an explanation. On January 12, Rogers, former secretary-treasurer of American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees Local 2254, pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court for the District of New Jersey to embezzling $40,455 from the union’s checking and savings accounts. She and her daughter, Jennifer Rogers, had been indicted on one count each last August; the daughter pleaded guilty on December 1. AFSCME Local 2254 represents various employees at Jersey City Medical Center. The actions follow an investigation by the U.S. Labor Department’s Office of Labor-Management Standards.

According to prosecutors, Linda Rogers, now 71, a resident of Jersey City, during July 2016-August 2017 used her position to write 112 checks and then deposit them to accounts jointly controlled by her and her daughter. These checks, which totaled $35,267, were unrelated to union business. In … Read More ➡

Mail Handlers President in St. Louis Charged with Embezzlement

On January 6, Scott Rodgers, president of National Postal Mail Handlers Union Local 314, was charged in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Missouri with one count of embezzling $80,765 from the St. Louis-based union following a grand jury indictment. According to prosecutors, Rodgers made four unauthorized ATM withdrawals and used his union debit card for personal expenditures such as meals, fuel, transportation, travel and lodging. He also allegedly claimed false reimbursements for lost work time. This union can’t seem to stay out of trouble. In October, former Local 314 treasurer Yvette Luster was indicted for stealing $184,138. The actions in both cases follow a joint investigation by the U.S. Labor Department’s Office of Labor-Management Standards and the U.S. Postal Service’s Office of Inspector General.… Read More ➡

Top Ten Union Corruption Stories of the Year

If one form of union corruption dominated 2020, it was benefit fraud. And there were quite a few huge hauls. In California, the International Longshore and Warehouse Union-Pacific Maritime Association health plan was fleeced twice over. In one case, four persons made off with $3 million. In the other, a Los Angeles-area chiropractor, Mahyar David Yadidi aided by two associates, collected reimbursements worth $4.8 million for nonexistent or unnecessary services. That’s not even including a separate $3 million ILWU scam resulting in sentences for three persons back in 2019. In New York City, executives of the Navillus construction firm were indicted for their roles in a scheme allegedly depriving members of over $1 million in retirement benefits. And in a shocker, an external audit and a long internal memo accused longtime International Association of Fire Fighters President Harold Schaitberger and another IAFF official of misusing $6 million in union … Read More ➡

Southern California Independent Union Boss Sentenced for Thefts

When going after organized corruption, the leader normally is the last to fall. Such was the case of the Romero family. Last Tuesday, January 5, John S. Romero, ex-president of the United Industrial Service Workers of America (UISWA), was sentenced in U.S. District Court for the Central District of California to 12 years in prison for his lead role in embezzling nearly $800,000 from the Colton (San Bernardino County), Calif.-based union’s health plan through various schemes. He had been convicted by a jury last February. His former wife, Evelyn Romero, and two adult children, John J. and Danae Romero, already had pleaded guilty and received sentences. He faces a restitution hearing in April. 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.

Union Corruption Update has covered this case since it first broke six years agoRead More ➡

Health Care Union President in Michigan Charged with Embezzlement

Whatever travel plans that Hasan Zahdeh had are now on hold. On or around December 24, Zahdeh, president of the Michigan Union of Healthcare Workers (MUHW), was charged in U.S. District Court for the Western District of Michigan with embezzling at least $15,000 in funds from the Muskegon-based union for his personal use. He had recently been arrested in St. Louis (Gratiot County), Mich. “A review of MUHW bank records reveals hundreds of unauthorized and fraudulent transactions, including trips made by Zahdeh to Istanbul, Turkey,” said U.S. Labor Department investigations attorney Sarah Pons. Zahdeh has claimed his innocence.

The Michigan Union of Healthcare Workers is an affiliate of the National Union of Healthcare Workers, the latter of which began in 2009 as a breakaway faction of the Service Employees International Union (SEIU). The MUHW would follow its own call to independence by leaving the corruption-ridden SEIU Michigan Healthcare. One of … Read More ➡

Ex-Employees of Carpenters Council in New Jersey File Whistleblower Suit

When it comes to retaliation against those who expose corruption, the United Brotherhood of Carpenters and Joiners has few rivals. Five recently fired staff members of a New Jersey-based affiliate know this first-hand – and are taking action. On December 1, the former employees filed suit in New Jersey State Superior Court in Newark against a regional union benefit fund and its executive secretary, claiming they were ousted from their jobs last March for supporting a union official who had been terminated ostensibly for alerting law enforcement to the theft of about $1.5 million in benefits. Ex-benefits manager George Laufenberg had been indicted in September 2019 on federal fraud charges following a probe by the U.S. Labor Department’s Office of Inspector General and Employee Benefits Security Administration, assisted by the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey.

The focus of attention, as Union Corruption Update explained late in 2019Read More ➡

Contractor, Accountant Indicted in Philadelphia IBEW Scandal

The net has grown wider for International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local 98, if not necessarily for its allied power brokers at Philadelphia City Hall. On November 25, Donald “Gus” Dougherty and Michael McKale, respectively, a Local 98 contractor and an accountant for Dougherty’s firm, were indicted in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania on multiple fraud and theft charges. The alleged acts included avoiding required contributions to union benefit plans, making false statements on a mortgage loan application, and placing Dougherty’s wife in a no-show union job. The charges are part of a much larger ongoing investigation by the FBI, the IRS and the U.S. Labor Department’s Office of Labor-Management Standards, Employee Benefits Security Administration and Office of Inspector General. The corruption broke wide open nearly two years ago.

Electrical Workers Local 98, now with some 5,000 dues-paying members, for years has been a powerful presence … Read More ➡

Justice Department, UAW Reach Settlement on Reform Plan

Dennis Williams

The United Auto Workers knew a settlement was coming. Now comes the hard part: compliance. This past Monday, December 14, Matthew Schneider, U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Michigan, announced that his office and the UAW had settled a civil suit filed earlier that day against the union based on acts of fraud, embezzlement and tax evasion committed by certain among its members. Criminal investigations had led to charges and convictions of 15 individuals, mostly union officials, including recent UAW Presidents Gary Jones and Dennis Williams. Most thus far have received sentences. The consent order, which requires court approval, creates an Independent Monitor possessed of the authority for up to six years to investigate and discipline corruption.

Union Corruption Update has covered this two-part investigation many times (such as here and here) since it broke open in July 2017. The 400,000-member, Detroit-based United Auto Workers, though … Read More ➡

Did UNITE HERE’s Support for Illegal Immigration Help Biden Win Nevada?

When it comes to open borders enthusiasm, few labor organizations are the match of the Las Vegas-based UNITE HERE Local 226. Representing around 60,000 hotel-casino and other employees in Las Vegas and Reno, the union for years has promoted illegal immigration as a means of building membership and bargaining power. That advocacy just might have delivered Nevada to Joe Biden in the presidential election. By its own count, union activists knocked on a half-million doors in the state in its effort to defeat Donald Trump, speaking to more than 100,000 persons. “We think we are the difference maker – without any question,” said UNITE HERE International President D. Taylor at a press conference a couple days after Election Day. Given his union’s stance on immigration, and the compelling evidence of vote fraud in that state, it is thus fair to ask: Did the union play a part in that fraud? … Read More ➡