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. He had been indicted last December. 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 Des Moines-area resident, 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 … 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 ➡

Virginia IATSE President Sentenced for Fraud and Embezzlement

On April 9, Benjamin Wisecarver, former president of International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees Local 264, was sentenced in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia to five months in prison, five months of home confinement and two years of probation for conspiracy to commit wire fraud and embezzlement in the amount of $57,310 from the Hampton-based union. He also was ordered to pay $53,704 in restitution. Wisecarver had pleaded guilty last December after being indicted on multiple counts in October. The actions follow an investigation by the U.S. Labor Department’s Office of Labor-Management Standards and Office of Inspector General.… Read More ➡

NTEU President in San Francisco Indicted for False Record-Keeping

On March 26, Jonathon Ortino, former president of National Treasury Employees Union Chapter 165, was charged in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California with making false statements in the San Francisco union’s financial reports for fiscal years 2014, 2015 and 2016. The indictment follows an investigation by the Labor Department’s Office of Labor-Management Standards.… Read More ➡

ILWU Secretary-Treasurer in Hawaii Indicted

On April 11, Charles Kimo Brown, former secretary-treasurer of International Longshore and Warehouse Union (ILWU) Local 142, Hawaii Longshore Division, was indicted in Honolulu federal court on two counts each of embezzlement totaling $1,575 from the union and concealment of the thefts in union financial records. According to prosecutors, Brown, now 60, a resident of Mililani, during December 2009-April 2014 received “lost time” reimbursements from the local when in fact these were hours during which worked for his regular employer. The union represents about 1,000 Hawaii dockworkers. The indictment follows a probe by the U.S. Labor Department’s Office of Labor-Management Standards.… Read More ➡