John Coli is feeling a heavier load than usual these days. On September 21, Coli (in photo), until recently the most powerful Teamster in the Chicago area, was slapped with a 13-count superseding federal indictment for obstruction of commerce; concealment of facts on reporting forms; and income tax fraud. He previously had been charged in July on six counts of extortion related to his exacting payments from a Chicago TV production company. Prosecutors now estimate his take at $325,000, up from the original sum of $100,000. Coli, who resigned on the day of the original indictment, chose not to plead guilty. He might change his mind given that the IRS and the Labor Department are seeking full forfeiture of related assets. For a once-dominant figure in labor and politics, the fall has been swift.
Union Corruption Update has summarized the saga of John T. Coli Sr. more than once (… Read More ➡
On October 4, Gregory Normand, former secretary-treasurer of International Association of Sheet Metal, Air, Rail and Transportation Workers (SMART), Transportation Division, Local 324, was indicted in U.S. District Court for the Western District of Washington on one count of embezzling about $443,000 in funds from the Marysville, Wash.-based union and one count of making false statements in annual financial reports to conceal the thefts. Despite the prodigious sum stolen, no articles on this case could be found anywhere. The indictment follows an investigation by the U.S. Labor Department’s Office of Labor-Management Standards.… Read More ➡
On September 27, Norman Baker, former secretary-treasurer of Glass, Molders, Pottery, Plastics and Allied Workers Local 220, was charged in U.S. District Court for the Western District of Texas with embezzling $8,310 in funds from the Axtell (near Waco) union. The charge follows a probe by the U.S. Labor Department’s Office of Labor-Management Standards.… Read More ➡
Laborers International Union of North America Local 773 has had quite a few problems, especially in the area of anger management. That’s why the old guard is no longer in charge. On September 1, LIUNA General President Terry O’Sullivan (in photo) announced in a letter that he was placing the Southern Illinois-based local under an emergency trusteeship in the wake of reports that several of its leaders had engaged in acts of corruption or intimidation. He justified the takeover as a necessary step to counteract “the breakdown in governance, leadership and democratic procedures brought upon by recent events.” That might be putting it mildly. John Penn, an international union vice president and regional manager, will run the local in the interim.
Laborers Local 773 represents more than 4,500 private-sector and government employees in 41 states. Headquartered in Marion, Ill., it carries enough civic clout to get a street named after … Read More ➡
On October 3, Glenn Robert Smith, former comptroller for the Michigan Regional Council of Carpenters and Millwrights, pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan to one count of embezzling $499,087 in funds from the Warren, Mich.-based union. He had been charged in July 2015 following a joint probe by the IRS and the U.S. Labor Department’s Office of Labor-Management Standards and Office of Inspector General.
Despite the staggering sum of money stolen, the case has received virtually no media coverage. A possible clue as to the nature of the thefts, suggested by Union Corruption Update at the time of the charge, lay in a 17-count civil complaint filed by the regional council in November 2013 against Smith and two other defendants, including Smith’s wife, for misuse of union funds. The plaintiff had estimated the loss at more than $25,000. If that case was related to … Read More ➡
On October 4, Matt Smith, former secretary-treasurer of Transport Workers Union Local 576, was indicted in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Texas on one count of embezzling $399,499 in funds from the Hurst, Texas (Dallas-Ft. Worth area) union. Two days later, on October 6, he pleaded guilty. The actions follow an investigation by the U.S. Labor Department’s Office of Labor-Management Standards.… Read More ➡
The resolve of unions to coerce support from unwilling employees shouldn’t be underestimated. Neither should the resistance of such employees. On September 28, the U.S. Supreme Court announced it would hear an appeal in Janus v. AFSCME Council 31, a case challenging the authority of public-sector unions to impose representation-related dues (“agency fees”) upon non-member workers. If successful, the plaintiffs, a State of Illinois child support specialist and two other public employees, will have overturned the basis for 40 years of union-driven bargaining that has pushed many state and local governments to the brink of insolvency. The Court was deadlocked in a similar case last year.
On September 25, Michael Mathis, former treasurer of Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers and Trainmen Division 34, a Teamsters affiliate, pleaded guilty in Franklin County, Ohio Court of Common Pleas to one count of theft from the Columbus-based union in the amount of $5,784. He then was sentenced to 60 days of incarceration (suspended) and one year of probation, and ordered to pay full restitution. The actions follow an investigation by the U.S. Labor Department’s Division of Labor-Management Standards.… Read More ➡
Ray Ventrone was resigned to his fate months ago. Now he’s made it official. On September 14, Ventrone, ex-business manager of International Brotherhood of Boilermakers (IBB) Local 154, pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court for the Western District of Pennsylvania to one count of embezzling roughly $1.5 million in funds from the Pittsburgh union and one count of tax evasion in the sum of $265,343. He had been charged this April, a couple years after various news outlets had revealed spending irregularities by the international union and Local 154 in particular. Under the plea agreement, prosecutors will seek a prison sentence of three to four years. 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.
On September 21, Bob Buford, former president of United Auto Workers Local 2419, was sentenced in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois to 21 months in prison and three years of supervised release for mail fraud in connection with his embezzlement of $128,697 in funds from the Danville, Ill.-based union. He also was ordered to pay $129,723 in restitution and a $100 special assessment. Buford had pleaded guilty last November after being indicted that March. The actions follow a probe by the U.S. Labor Department’s Office of Labor-Management Standards.… Read More ➡