Former ILWU Official in Hawaii Pleads Guilty to Identity Theft, Tax Fraud

It wasn’t exactly the classiest behavior. On March 28, Nathan Lum, former director of the Longshore Division of International Longshore and Warehouse Union Local 142, pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court for the District of Hawaii to one count each of aggravated identity theft and income tax evasion. The offenses, unrelated to operations of the Honolulu-based union, had a lot to do with his misuse of his late father’s stream of income. The guilty plea follows a joint investigation by the FBI, the IRS and the U.S. Labor Department’s Office of Labor-Management Standards. Sentencing is scheduled for July.

Court records show that Lum, now 61, a powerful, well-paid boss of the more than 1,000-member ILWU Local 142, cashed Social Security checks made out to his father, who died in June 2013, and diverted the money to his own use. In addition, he failed to file federal income tax returns for … Read More ➡

AFGE Treasurer in Maryland Pleads Guilty to Embezzlement

Were it not for an overheard telephone call, Annette Jones might still be ripping off her union. Accidents will happen. On May 9, Jones, former treasurer of American Federation of Government Employees Local 331, pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court for the District of Maryland to bank fraud in connection with her embezzlement over a three-year period of more than $80,000 in funds from her union, which represents about 760 employees of Perry Point VA Medical Center in Cecil County, Md. She had been indicted on multiple counts last June. The plea follows an investigation by the Department of Labor’s Office of Labor-Management Standards and the Department of Veterans Affairs’ Office of Inspector General. Sentencing is set for September 10.

According to prosecutors, Jones, now 45, a resident of Port Deposit, Md., conducted a pair of fraud schemes against AFGE Local 331. By far the largest occurred during July 2012-July … Read More ➡

ILWU, Dockworkers in Oregon Sued for Roles in Time Card Scam

There are few workplaces in this country that can match the shipping terminal when it comes to wage and hour fraud – especially if the dockworkers are unionized. Back in December, Columbia Export Terminal in Portland, Oregon filed a lawsuit in U.S. District Court for the District of Oregon against the International Longshore and Warehouse Union and more than 150 of its members, accusing them of participating in a conspiracy to inflate their on-the-clock time in a variety of ways. The schemes allegedly cost the terminal over $5 million. The union, the suit reads, “organized and orchestrated the scheme to submit falsified time sheets.” A court spokesperson told National Legal and Policy Center yesterday afternoon that the case remains active, though a pretrial hearing has yet to be scheduled.

The longshore industry long has been plagued by union-abetted time sheet fraud. About a dozen years ago, Union Corruption Update extensively Read More ➡

Steelworkers Secretary in Massachusetts Admits to Sufficient Finding of Facts

On April 9, Edgar Barajas, former financial secretary of United Steelworkers Local 4-1702, filed an Alford plea with the Marlborough Division of the Middlesex District Court of Massachusetts following a charge last August that he stole funds from the Marlborough union. He allegedly had made unauthorized cash withdrawals and debit card purchases totaling $10,279. Under an Alford plea, a defendant does not plead guilty but instead admits that the evidence is sufficient for a conviction should the case go to trial. By agreement with the union, the court will dismiss the case if Barajas pays full restitution and associated court fees within one year. The actions follow a probe by the U.S. Labor Department’s Office of Labor-Management Standards.… Read More ➡

Illinois SMART Secretary-Treasurer Sentenced for Records Fraud

On April 11, Edward Cranston, former secretary-treasurer for Sheet Metal, Air, Rail and Transportation Workers (SMART) Local 1421, was sentenced in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois to three years of probation for filing a false financial report for the year 2014 to conceal his thefts from the Beecher (Will County), Ill.-based union in the sum of $28,220. He also was ordered to pay the remaining nearly $10,000 of the $28,084 in restitution plus a $25 assessment. Cranston had pleaded guilty in January following an investigation by the U.S. Labor Department’s Office of Labor-Management Standards.… Read More ➡

Steelworkers Treasurer in Michigan Charged with Embezzlement

On April 24, Stephen Perez, former treasurer of United Steelworkers Local 402, was indicted in Grand Rapids federal court for embezzling $14,408.05 in funds from the Grandville (near Grand Rapids) union and then falsifying records to conceal the thefts. The alleged thefts took place during January 2016-March 2017. He faces up to five years in prison. The charge follows a probe by the U.S. Labor Department’s Office of Labor-Management Standards.… Read More ➡

HHS Finalizes Rule Barring Union Medicaid Dues-Skimming

A half-decade ago, the Obama administration, in apparent defiance of federal statutes, issued a rule authorizing states to deduct union dues from home care providers whose income is partly or fully Medicaid-derived. The experiment now has ended. Yesterday, May 2, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) issued a final rule to protect non-joining independent providers from having a portion of their paychecks deducted and routed to a union. Public-sector unions have generated an estimated $200 million a year this way. Mark Mix, president of the National Right to Work Committee, calls the reversal “an encouraging action toward stopping union bosses from unlawfully using public payment systems to intercept tax dollars intended for providers caring for those in need.” The rule is set to take effect on or about July 5.

Union Corruption Update examined this issue at length last year. On July 12, HHS posted a Notice … Read More ➡

Genovese Mobster Pleads Guilty in Brooklyn UFCW Scheme

Mafia wise guys still know how to help union officials upon request. But they also know when to pack it in. On April 10, Vincent Esposito, an enforcer for New York City’s feared Genovese crime family, pleaded guilty in U.S. District for the Southern District of New York to racketeering conspiracy engineered by Vincent D’Acunto, a former Brooklyn-based United Food and Commercial Workers secretary-treasurer. The arrangement netted Esposito millions of dollars. D’Acunto and another former UFCW secretary-treasurer in Brooklyn, Frank Cognetta, each had pleaded guilty this March after being indicted in January 2018. The actions follow a joint probe by the FBI, the NYPD and the U.S. Labor Department’s Office of Labor-Management Standards and Office of Inspector General.

Food and Commercial Workers Locals 1D and 2D, each a wine and distillery workers union, were deep in racketeering. Frank Cognetta, secretary-treasurer of UFCW Local 1D, steered nearly $500,000 from a Local … Read More ➡

Insulators Business Manager in Iowa Pleads Guilty to Ripping Off Union, Charity

When it came to stealing, Theodore Watson was a double-dipper. That may cost him extra time behind bars. On April 15, Watson, former business manager for International Association of Heat & Frost Insulators and Allied Workers Local 74, pleaded guilty in U.S. District for the Southern District of Iowa to one count of embezzlement, two counts of mail fraud and one count of making a false statement in the financial records of the Des Moines union. The plea follows an investigation by the U.S. Labor Department’s Office of Labor-Management Standards. He faces up to five and 20 years, respectively, for embezzlement and mail fraud at sentencing on August 23.

According to prosecutors, Watson, now 54, a resident of Des Moines, during 2007-16 embezzled funds in an unspecified sum from his union. He used the Local 74 credit card without authorization to make purchases and receive cash advances, altering monthly statements … Read More ➡

Oregon Independent Union President Sentenced

On April 10, John Burgess, former president of Pacific Stainless Products Employee Association Local 304, was sentenced in U.S. District Court for the District of Oregon to five years of supervised release and ordered to pay restitution totaling $10,621 and a $25 assessment for concealing or destroying records of the St. Helens-based union. He had pleaded guilty in December after being charged in September on one count of embezzling about $35,000 from the union and one count of concealing the thefts in financial records. The actions follow a probe by the U.S. Labor Department’s Office of Labor-Management Standards.… Read More ➡