Milwaukee Organizer Charged with Theft

In an effort to unionize hospital employees, a Service Employees Int’l Union organizer, Theodore D. Kraig, apparently stole a binder containing personnel information from Beloit (Wis.) Mem. Hospital. Kraig of SEIU Local 150 in Milwaukee was charged May 6 on one count of misdemeanor theft and faces nine months in prison. Reportedly, a hospital receptionist said a couple came into the lobby Feb. 23, walked around and sat down for an hour. The receptionist left, and a large binder was gone when she returned. The binder contained surgery schedules, confidential numbers of hospital personnel and medical van transportation schedules. When the receptionist couldn’t find the binder, officials reviewed security tapes and saw the man take the binder and run. Currently, the hospital’s non-medical employees are represented by the Am. Fed. of State, County & Municipal Employees. Reportedly, several employees were contacted by SEIU shortly after the theft. [Milwaukee Journal Sentinel … Read More ➡

Boss Charged with $237,000 Kickback Scheme

Ex-Nat. Maritime Union Employee Pension & Welfare Plan boss Thomas LaForgia was charged May 11 with receiving $237,000 in kickbacks for referring members to a Mass. school for training mandated by the U.S. Coast Guard. LaForgia is responsible for where and when members receive training. According to prosecutors, LaForgia contacted the Northeast Maritime Inst. in New Bedford and arranged for NMU members to attend classes at the school in 1996. LaForgia then began demanding the school purchase items for him. The items reportedly included airline tickets, electronic equipment, jewelry and liquor. In Nov. 1998, the school said it would stop purchasing the items, he then cancelled previously scheduled classes and ceased sending members to the school. He faces three years imprisonment, a $250,000 fine and a restitution order. [BNA 5/12/99]… Read More ➡

DOL Sues Union Fund Tied to Clinton-Crony McAuliffe

The U.S. Dep’t of Labor filed suit May 5 against two trustees of the $8.3 billion Nat. Electrical Benefit Fund charging improper dealings between the fund and top Clinton-fundraiser Terence R. McAuliffe. According to DOL, NEBF trustee John Grau and ex-trustee Jack F. Moore imprudently lent over $6 million in pension assets. NEBF is operated jointly by the Int’l Bhd. of Electrical Workers, from which Moore retired as secretary in 1997, and the Nat. Electrical Contractors Ass’n, of which Grau is a vice president.

The scam involved a $6 million loan in 1992 to Columbia Land & Development Corp. of Orlando to buy a subdivision called Country Run which was to be developed into 545 lots. McAuliffe and his wife, Dorothy S. McAuliffe, own Columbia. The loan was in default from Dec. 1992 to Oct. 1997. DOL says NEBF should have known the loan couldn’t be repaid in full with … Read More ➡

Chicago Informant Convicted of Perjury

A federal jury convicted ex-FBI informant William A. Russell on May 13 on two counts of perjury and one count of obstructing justice for staging a recorded conversation in Sep. 1991 to make it appear as if he passed a $10,000 bribe to IBEW boss Jeremiah J. O’Connor. Investigators initially thought O’Connor took the bribe and began a major union corruption investigation code-named Operation Chi-Lite. The probe cost taxpayers $173,000 and Russell received nearly $113,000. He faces two years in prison. The scheme unraveled when O’Connor produced records showing that he attended a union meeting five hours from Chicago, in Eau Claire, Wis., on the night the alleged payoff on Chicago’s Westside. [Chicago Tribune 5/14/99]… Read More ➡

New York Boss Pleads Guilty to Vote Scam

A fourth union boss of the Am. Fed. of State, County & Employees’s Dist. Council 37 pled guilty to criminal charges May 19. Nine others have been indicted. John McCabe, an ex-$100,000-a-year boss of the white-collar division of DC37, admitted to ballot stuffing the union’s 1995 contract vote with N.Y. City. He changed “no” votes to “yes” votes. He faces four years in prison. [Daily News 5/20/99]… Read More ➡

Cleveland Local Sued for Violence

Cleveland’s grocery chain, Tops, has filed suit accusing Laborers’ Int’l Union of No. Am. Local 310 of “harassing and threatening to use physical violence” against a nonunion construction crew working on a new Tops store. Tops won a temporary restraining order against Local 310. In response, Local 310 is pondering a boycott. But, United Food & Commercial Workers Local 880 which represents 4,000 Tops employees, has vowed to stay out of the feud.

The suit says the pickets sought to prevent work on the construction site by blocking the entry to the site and assaulting several workers. The alleged abuse was detailed by workers in sworn affidavits. “They surrounded me and one of them taunted me, yelling remarks like ‘What are you gonna do, call your mommy?” recalled Richard Robinson. “As I turned around, [they] assaulted me, punching me squarely in the face, cutting my lip open.” When the pickets … Read More ➡

Ex-New York Boss Convicted of Extortion

A federal jury in Las Vegas convicted two reputed Buffalo mafia figures May 21 of extortion. Stephen Cino and Robert Panaro, Sr., conspired to extort Herbert “Fat Herbie” Blitzstein, a once-powerful mob loan shark. Prosecutors claimed the extortion was part of scam to take over Blitzstein’s loan-sharking and insurance-fraud operations. Blitzstein was the right-hand man of Anthony “Tony the Ant” Spilotro, who was the subject of the movie Casino. Blitzstein was fatally shot in Jan. 1997. Prosecutors believe that Cino and Panaro’s extortion at least led to Blitzstein’s shooting.

Reportedly, Cino and Panaro were prominent members of a group of Buffalo mafia figures who moved to Las Vegas. Both have been in Las Vegas for at least a decade. In 1996, Panaro was one of seventeen bosses ousted from LIUNA Local 210 for allegedly associating with organized crime figures, as part of LIUNA’s “internal reform effort.” When he was indicted … Read More ➡

Chicago Boss Ousted, No Criminal Charges Brought

LIUNA’s “in-house” judge Peter F. Vaira permanently barred Local 2 boss John Matassa May 12 from LIUNA. Allegedly, Matassa has admitted under oath to a pattern of close associations with organized crime for more than 25 years. Vaira claims Matassa extorted money on behalf of the mob, supervised mob-sponsored gambling operations in Chicago and was extensively involved in managing the mob’s pornography operations. [BNA 5/19/99] There was no report of criminal charges be brought against Matassa. Curiously, despite this appearing to be a slam-dunk case, DOJ has not taken any action against Local 2 or Matassa — neither was cited in DOJ’s 1994 draft racketeering complaint against LIUNA.

Ohio Boss Gets Two Years for Theft
William S. Demboski, Jr., ex-secretary-treasurer of United Steelworkers of Am. Local 01-2-L in Akron, was sentenced to two years in jail May 20 for embezzling $316,273 of union funds. He must pay restitution of $332,727. … Read More ➡

Michigan Boss Charged, Took $70,000 from Defunct Local

Cynthia Szymanski was charged by the U.S. Atty’s Office in Detroit Apr. 22 with embezzling $70,672 from Am. Fed. of State, County & Municipal Employees “Local 2949.” But Local 2949 hasn’t existed since 1994. AFSCME terminated Local 2949’s charter after long-time president Szymanski stopped sending in union dues. Yet she collected dues from 1994 to 1998. During that period, misled workers didn’t have union cards, didn’t vote for officers, didn’t get newsletters, didn’t have union meetings, etc., but every year Szymanski took $169 from their paychecks. “In the back of my mind, I always thought there was something screwy about the whole thing,” said one member. Finally, a new member, Doreene Christie, contacted the Nat. Labor Relations Board, and the scam unraveled. Szymanski now faces five years in prison. “It’s as blatant as can be if you look at the records. She made checks out to Hudson’s to pay off … Read More ➡

Panel’s Findings on Corrupt Boss Diop Released

An AFSCME judicial panel released its corruption findings Apr. 30 on ex-DC37 and Local 1549 boss Albert A. Diop. Here are the reported highlights: Diop had Local 1549 pay $617,398 to rent a Manhattan penthouse from 1991-99. He had the local pay between $1,200 and $1,600 a month for the penthouse’s maid service. Despite living in N.Y. City, Diop charged 446 hotel stays in the city (128 on weekends) totaling $162,431. Diop had the local pay almost $135,000 over three years (about $3,750 a month) to lease a Lincoln Town Car while at the same time DC37 paid Diop a monthly auto allowance of $665 a month. His union credit card had $82,269 for cameras and electronic equipment; $23,834 for clothing; $22,829 for jewelry; and $22,251 for pawnshop purchases. Reportedly, the Manhattan Dist. Atty.’s office is conducting further investigations. [N.Y. Times & Newsday 5/1/99]  Disturbingly, Diop, also an AFSCME Int’l … Read More ➡