Federal Sting Nabs Corrupt Boss

A Chicago Teamsters boss was indicted Sep. 17 for taking $16,000 in bribes from a mole of an federal investigation called Operation Silver Shovel. The mole, John Christopher, attempted to bribe the boss to overlook his financial obligations to Local 786. The local’s president from 1982-97, Walter Hoff, allegedly accepted two payoffs. Hoff is the 17th defendant charged in the ongoing investigation, but the first defendant named in 10 months, and the first union figure implicated in what has been mostly a public corruption probe.

“Labor union officials are supposed to bargain with employers at arm’s length, not with their hands in each other’s pockets,” said U.S. Atty. Scott Lassar. “The defendant allegedly placed his own financial interest ahead of his
duty to protect the interests of the workers whom he represented.”

Hoff is charged with 9 counts of fraud, labor racketeering and tax evasion. Prosecutors said that one payoff … Read More ➡

Rerun Election Pushed Back

U.S. Dist. Judge David N. Edelstein approved Sep. 14 an new timetable for the Teamsters rerun election. Members will vote Nov. 2-Dec. 3., and counting begins Dec. 3. The reason for the delay: the $538,000 money-laundering schemes employed by the disgraced and expelled president, Ron Carey’ campaign. Taxpayers have been forced to contribute $4 million to the rerun’s monitoring cost after paying nearly $20 million for the failed monitoring of the 1996 election. The corrupt union reluctantly agreed to pay $2 million. This is $2.6 million short of the $8.6 million originally requested. The savings will come from limiting protest processes and substituting electronic devices for security guards at the ballot counting. [BNA 9/16/98]
 
Texas Boss Gets 51 Months for Theft
A Houston Teamsters boss was sentenced Aug. 31 to 51 months in prison for using union funds for personal items such as underwear and monogrammed luggage. Richard … Read More ➡

Boss Stole $8K on the Job

According to the Ohio auditor’s office, the president of the Am. Fed. of State, County and Municipal Employees Local 3984 owes Ohio $8,217 that she admitted stealing last year while working in the Butler Co. Clerk of Courts office. Lori Lutes, who is also a motor-vehicle dep’t bookkeeper, pled guilty in Jul. to “theft in office,” a felony.  [Cincinnati Enquirer 9/10/98]

LIUNA Boss Accused of Harassment
Two female construction workers who alleged that a union boss demanded sex for job assignments have won probable cause findings from the Mass. Comm’n Against Discrimination. Ruth Ann Niemeyer and Pamela J. Corey alleged James M. Porter, LIUNA Local 243 business manager, made the women perform sex in return for work. Winning the Sep. 3 decision was the women’s first legal hurdle. Despite complaining about Porter’s behavior, LIUNA refused to take action. The alleged actions are quite sick. Niemeyer alleges Porter forced her … Read More ➡

Long-time Boss’ Expenses Questioned in Cal. Election

The election of president of central California’s largest union “has been a cakewalk” for Don Hunsucker for nearly the past two decades, but fellow United Food & Commercial Workers Local 1288 member, Candelaria Arroyo, could change that in this month’s election. Arroyo has blasted Hunsucker and his staff for their lavish expense accounts, but stopped short directly criticizing Hunsucker for his $120,000 a year base salary. Hunsucker has been Local 1288’s boss for 20 years and has run unchallenged in every election since 1981. “There are some people who have been in office for so long that they’ve forgotten about the working people,” Arroyo said. [Fresno Bee 9/7/98]

Boston Bosses Monitored for Unfair Practices
The Service Employees Int’l Union has begun monitoring Boston’s SEIU Local 254 following a hearing last spring on allegations that the Local unfairly represented members.  SEIU spokeswoman Jill Gallagher confirmed Sep. 16 that Thomas Balanoff … Read More ➡

$500K Embezzled from Workers’ Compensation Fund

A contract employee for the U.S. Labor Dep’t and a co-conspirator embezzled over $500,000 from DOL’s Division of Longshore & Harbor Workers’ Compensation. Jennifer M. Spraitz and Rachel Lea Gratton pled guilty to conspiracy to commit mail fraud and theft from a federal program. The Division administers compensation benefits, medical payments and vocational rehabilitation services to injured workers and is funded by the federal government and private employers. Spraitz created false vocational rehabilitation counselor invoices, making up the names of allegedly injured workers who were supposedly receiving services she listed on the invoices. Spraitz used Gratton’s name as the fictitious rehabilitation counselor on the invoices and listed addresses that were under their control. From Oct. 1993 to Nov. 1997, Spraitz submitted 150 fraudulent invoices which generated government checks totaling $524,722. Spraitz retrieved the checks for Gratton who then returned personal checks for half the amount to Spraitz. Both used the … Read More ➡

Coia Accused of Favoritism in Union Election

General President of the Laborers Int’l Union of North Am., Arthur A. Coia, was accused in a lawsuit filed Aug. 28 in U.S. District Court of helping allies of a corrupt and ousted boss gain an unfair advantage in an upcoming election. Just before LIUNA Local 190 in Albany was to begin filling the vacancy left by ousted business manager Samuel Fresina, a legal battle erupted over allegations that Fresina’s loyalists were attempting to control the outcome. Fresina was forced out last month due to alleged ties to organized crime (see: UCU 1.6 8/24/98).

Carmen Francella, Jr., a candidate for the job, filed the suit seeking the nomination meeting be postponed until late-Sep. The complaint said he was denied membership lists that prevent him from properly campaigning and that he has been personally threatened. The nominations meeting was moved from its longtime location in Albany to LIUNA offices in … Read More ➡

Two Turn on Boss, Make Deal to Save Themselves

Daniel J. Bielat and William P. Yarma settled embezzlement charges Aug. 27 with a federally appointed investigator, leaving Frank H. Ervolino, Buffalo-area union boss, the sole target of a federal investigation. After helping Ervolino run 3 locals, Bielat and Yarmal made agreements that dropped embezzlement charges against them. The investigator, Kurt W. Muellenberg, was appointed under 1995 settlement of racketeering charges against the Hotel Employees & Restaurant Employees Int’l Union.

Muellenberg will decide by Oct. if he will proceed with charges that the Ervolino family funneled hundreds of thousands of dollars of union funds into their own pockets in 1990-95. Allegedly, Ervolino collected $1.5 million from the unions in salary and pension benefits; his wife collected $529,610 and his daughter $246,018. Sources included unauthorized raises and bonuses, and according to the charges, Ervolino benefited from union-paid insurance policies and entered into deals between the union and businesses run by his … Read More ➡

Nevada Boss Indicted for $72K Theft

Johnie M. Williams, former secretary-treasurer of the Am. Fed’n of Gov’t Employees Local 1199 was arrested Aug. 27 on charges that he embezzled over $72,000 from AFGE. A federal grand jury in Nev. indicted him on 162 counts of embezzlement from AFGE’s bank accounts and 3 counts of filing false financial reports with the Labor Dep’t. The 1993-96 scheme entailed checks written to cash, Williams and personal creditors. [Las Vegas Rev.-J. 8/29/98]

Md. Boss Pleads Guilty to Cover Up
 John Mosley, former treasurer of AFGE Local 29 in Clinton, Md., pled guilty Aug. 24 to making false statements to the government to cover up his personal use of union funds. He controlled union finances, conducted all business in cash and maintained virtually no records from 1988 to 1996. He took around $40,000 from union coffers for his own use. Mosley faces 5 years in prison and a $250,000 fine. … Read More ➡

No Restitution for 2 Embezzlers

Two former union bosses embezzled more than $74,000 from Oil, Chemical & Atomic Workers Local 1-5476 in Lawndale, Cal. and were incarcerated Sep. 3 after pleading guilty Aug. 24. Former int’l rep. Kevin Geddes and secretary-treasurer Robert Redmerski filed false “lost time” claims for reimbursement. According to the Labor Dep’t, the scheme induced local stewards to file false claims and turn over union reimbursements to Geddes, and Redmerski knowingly approved and paid the false claims. Geddes was sentenced to 3 months in prison, 3 months in a halfway house and 3 years probation and was ordered to obtain substance abuse and psychiatric treatment. Redmerski was sentenced to 6 months in a halfway house and 3 years probation. Fines and restitution of union members’ lost funds were waived in exchange the for guilty pleas, as were conspiracy and extortion charges. [BNA 9/4/98]

Oregon Boss Embezzled $88K
Association of Western Pulp … Read More ➡

Union Violence in U.S. West Strike

 Before U.S. West won a tentative agreement with the Communications Workers of America on Aug. 30, the 2-week strike was marred by union violence. On Aug. 21 U.S. District Judge Stephen L. Henriod issued a temporary restraining order prohibiting CWA from threatening and intimidating people entering or leaving U.S. West buildings. The order came after the company submitted a half dozen affidavits of threats and intimidation:

  • A contractor was approached at his motel by 3 people, including one who threatened to “take you out if I see you working.” The contractor said the person making the threat had a gun. Police have charged a CWA member with public intoxication and making threats with a gun in the incident.
  • Militants at a rally blocked the entrance to a company parking lot.
  • A company manager working to maintain service during the strike was struck in the head with a rock. His car
Read More ➡