FBI Raids Office of Philadelphia Electrical Workers Local

Don’t tell International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local 98 that lightning can’t strike twice in the same place. For them, it’s already happened. Around 7 A.M., October 16, FBI agents raided the headquarters of the Philadelphia union in search of evidence of threats of violent retaliation by union leaders against certain dissenting members. Authorities would not say if the search was related to an August 2016 FBI raid connected to an influence-peddling scandal implicating IBEW Local 98 Business Manager John Dougherty, Philadelphia City Council Member Bobby Henon, and certain other persons. In that case, multiple indictments were handed down a couple years later alleging bribery, embezzlement, concealment, and tax evasion. A former City official and an unindicted contractor thus far have pleaded guilty.

IBEW Local 98, with about 5,000 active members, for decades has been close to Philadelphia’s construction industry and City Hall. Some might say too close. On January … Read More ➡

Laborers Business Manager in West Virginia Sentenced for Embezzlement

On October 15, Rick Drain, former business manager for Laborers International Union of North America Local 1085, was sentenced in U.S. District Court for the Southern District of West Virginia to one year and one day in prison, plus one year of supervised release, for embezzling $50,281 from the Parkersburg-based union. He had pleaded guilty in July after being charged in March. The actions follow a probe by the U.S. Labor Department’s Office of Labor-Management Standards. As Union Corruption Update has explained, Drain over a decade ago had been accused of stealing union funds by a former employee as part of an unlawful termination civil suit. He managed to escape accountability on that occasion. This time, he wasn’t so lucky. … Read More ➡

AFGE Secretary-Treasurer in Texas Charged with Wire Fraud

On October 13, KaSandra Hall, former secretary-treasurer of American Federation of Government Employees Council 235, was charged in U.S. District Court for the Western District of Texas with one count of wire fraud in the sum $12,765 from the Killeen-based labor organization. The indictment follows an investigation by the U.S. Labor Department’s Office of Labor-Management Standards.… Read More ➡

Louisiana AFGE President Pleads Guilty to Forgery

On September 30, Matthew Cuomo, former president of American Federation of Government Employees Local 1047, pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Louisiana to one count of forging over 50 checks worth about $15,000 against the Kenner, La. union, which represents Transportation Security Administration employees. Cuomo had been charged this past July. The actions follow an investigation by the Labor Department’s Office of Labor-Management Standards.    … Read More ➡

Labor Department Seeks Tougher LM-2 Form to Fight Corruption

Despite all the legal disincentives, the people running our unions continue to practice fraud and embezzlement. In response, the U.S. Department of Labor has come up with new ways of preventing these things. On September 30, the DOL’s Office of Labor-Management Standards (OLMS) unveiled various changes to its LM-2 reporting document for large unions; i.e., unions taking in at least $250,000 a year. First, these labor organizations must spell out more fully how they pay for assets, hotel stays, restaurants and other items all too often hidden as “miscellaneous.” Second, the largest of these unions – those with annual receipts of at least $8 million – must file a new “long form” LM-2. Labor leaders understandably oppose this. But the proposal rule change addresses real problems, which however frequently detected and punished, require adequate tools.   

Mandatory union financial reporting is authorized by the Labor Management Reporting and Disclosure Act … Read More ➡

Massachusetts AFGE President Indicted for Fraud, Tax Evasion

Michael Oldham gambled over his head. He’s now paying a price. Last Tuesday, October 13, Oldham, former president of American Federation of Government Employees Local 1900, was indicted by a federal grand jury for embezzling nearly $39,000 in funds from the Taunton, Mass. (south of Boston) union, making false statements on government financial reporting forms, and evading personal income taxes. He also was arrested that day. The union represents military and civilian Army mechanics at the former Fort Devens in Massachusetts. The indictment follows an investigation by the Labor Department’s Office of Labor-Management Standards.

Oldham, a resident of Whitman, Mass., headed AFGE Local 1900 during 2016-18. His alleged acts of wire fraud and related crimes began shortly after he took over from his predecessor. Insisting that union bank statements be mailed to his home rather than union office, he issued union checks to himself, funneling the money into a personal … Read More ➡

Eleven New York Building Trades Union Officials Charged in Bribery Racket

New York City-area construction unions are well-known for being on the take. An announcement by the U.S. Department of Justice won’t likely alter that reputation. On October 1, the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York announced the arrest and indictment of 11 officials of the New York State Building and Construction Trades Council for various charges related to their receipt of over $100,000 in bribes from nonunion contractors in return for bid-rigging, in the process selling out the dues-paying union members whom they represented. Led by Trades Council President James Cahill, the defendants are current or former members of two local affiliates of the United Association of Plumbers & Pipefitters. Aiding in the probe was the Suffolk County (Long Island), N.Y. district attorney’s office. All the defendants pleaded not guilty at arraignment.

It’s a common form of back-scratching in the world of organized labor: An employer, … Read More ➡

St. Louis Postal Handlers Treasurer Charged with Embezzlement

On October 7, Yvette Luster, former treasurer of National Postal Mail Handlers Local 314, was charged in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Missouri with one count of embezzlement in the sum of $184,138 from the St. Louis union. The charge follows an investigation by the U.S. Labor Department’s Office of Labor-Management Standards.… Read More ➡

Ex-Treasurer of West Virginia Teachers Union Sentenced for Fraud

On October 2, Cathy Byers, former treasurer of American Federation of Teachers Local 6540, was sentenced in U.S. District Court for the Southern District of West Virginia to eight months of home confinement and five years of supervised release for wire fraud in the sum of roughly $22,000 from the Ronceverte (Greenbrier County), W.Va.-based union. She also was ordered to pay a $100 special assessment on top of the restitution she already has paid. Byers had pleaded guilty in June to one count of wire fraud following an investigation by the U.S. Labor Department’s Office of Labor-Management Standards and Office of Inspector General.… Read More ➡

Fort Knox AFGE President Sentenced for Fraud, Forgery

On October 1, Rocky Gannon, former president of American Federation of Government Employees Local 2302, was sentenced in U.S. District Court for the Western District of Kentucky to 15 months of home incarceration, four years of probation and 250 hours of community service for fraud and forgery. He had pleaded guilty in June after being charged in November 2019 with three counts of fraud and nine counts of securities forgery. The actions follow a probe by the U.S. Labor Department’s Office of Labor-Management Standards.… Read More ➡