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 ➡
Beverly Davis and Evelyn Smith stole together. And now they’ve been sentenced together. On July 21, Davis and Smith, each a former employee of Communications Workers of America Local 6222, were sentenced in U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Texas to three years of probation for their roles in an embezzlement scheme that netted them more than $135,000 during 2010-17 from the Houston union, which represents AT&T employees. In addition, Davis will have to pay $85,536.77 in restitution, while Smith will have to pay $50,967.76. Grand total: $136,504.53. The pair had pleaded guilty last December following an investigation by the U.S. Labor Department’s Office of Labor-Management Standards.… Read More ➡
It is now settled law that public employees cannot be forced to pay dues to a union as a condition of employment. American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) Local 3930 and the State of California don’t seem convinced. Neither does a federal judge. On June 15, a U.S. District Court for the Central District of California rebuked an Orange County home care provider, Maria Quezambra, in her quest to recoup dues collected by the union via the State of California over six years despite clear evidence that someone at the union had forged her signature to establish membership. A week later, she filed an appeal. The larger issue, in light of the Supreme Court’s 2018 ruling in Janus v. AFSCME Council 31, is the corrupt practice of government agencies allying themselves with the very unions with whom they bargain.
The U.S. Supreme Court’s Janus decision was … Read More ➡
On July 30, Matthew Cuomo, former president of American Federation of Government Employees Local 1047, was charged with one count of forgery in the amount of $500 against the Kenner, La.-based union, which represents Transportation Security Administration employees. The charge follows a probe by the U.S. Labor Department’s Office of Labor-Management Standards.… Read More ➡
On July 22, Karen Pierce, former employee of United Association of Plumbers and Pipefitters Local 142, pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court for the Western District of Texas to one count of embezzling funds from the San Antonio-based union in an unspecified amount. She had been indicted on eight counts in February 2019. The actions follow an investigation by the U.S. Labor Department’s Office of Labor-Management Standards.… Read More ➡
John Ulrich exacted a high price for his favors. Now he’s paying a high price. On July 22, Ulrich, ex-vice president and recording secretary of the Great Neck (Long Island), N.Y.-based International Brotherhood of Teamsters Local 812, was sentenced in Manhattan federal court to 18 months in prison, to be followed by two years of supervised release, for soliciting and receiving bribes from a union health plan administrator in return for retaining that person’s services. He also was ordered to forfeit $55,000 in personal assets and pay restitution in a sum to be determined later. Ulrich had pleaded guilty in December 2019 following his indictment that February. The actions follow a probe by the FBI and the U.S. Labor Department’s Office of Labor-Management Standards, Office of Inspector General and Employee Benefits Security Administration.
Teamsters Local 812 represents about 3,000 beverage industry workers in the New York City metropolitan area. Its … Read More ➡
This June 27 marked the second anniversary of the Supreme Court ruling in Janus v. AFSCME Council 31, a pivotal event in labor relations whose potential long-run impact is only beginning to be felt. The High Court’s upholding by a 5-4 margin of the constitutional right of Mark Janus (in photo), an Illinois state civil servant, to withhold dues from an affiliate of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees has enabled numerous nonmembers across a wide range of public-sector jobs to decline to pay without worrying about losing their jobs. In response, unions and their political allies are going to great lengths to circumvent the ruling. They know what is at stake. Their actions unintentionally underscore why the Court made the right call. And Mark Janus isn’t quite done yet.
Government employee unions, especially at the state and local levels, have become a dominant force … Read More ➡
Sandra King had bills to pay. She resolved the problem in an all too common way: stealing. Two days ago, July 21, King, former president of the Federation of Police & Security and current president of the Alliance of Independent Workers, pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia to embezzling a combined sum of more than $57,000 from the Owings Mills (suburban Baltimore), Md.-based unions. As part of the plea deal, she will have to make full restitution. She had been charged in an information count this past June following an investigation by the U.S. Labor Department’s Office of Labor-Management Standards.
If nothing else, Sandra King was a busy woman. During October 2014-September 2019, she headed the Federation of Police & Security, which represents private security guards in Washington, D.C. and Bethesda, Md. In addition, since 2014 she served as president of the Alliance of Independent … Read More ➡