Rhondalyn Cornett had ways of supplementing her income at the expense of the school teachers she represented. Unfortunately, those ways were illegal. Earlier today, Cornett, former president of the Indianapolis Education Association (IEA), was sentenced in U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Indiana to 16 months in prison, to be followed by two years of probation, for embezzling more than $154,000 from the IEA over a four-year period. She had been charged last July, pleading guilty immediately thereafter. The actions follow a joint probe by the FBI, the U.S. Labor Department’s Office of Labor-Management Standards and Office of Inspector General, and the Indianapolis metro police.
Cornett, now 55, a resident of Indianapolis and a longtime teacher herself, during November 2013-November 2018 served as president of the Indianapolis Education Association, an affiliate of the Indiana State Teachers Association and the National Education Association. For the last four of … Read More ➡
On May 12, Janet Pilcher, former secretary-treasurer of National Association of Letter Carriers Branch 536, pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Georgia to embezzling $65,033 in funds from the Rome, Ga.-based union. She had been indicted in February. The charge and plea follow an investigation by the U.S. Labor Department’s Office of Labor-Management Standards. … Read More ➡
Hawaii’s United Public Workers has entered a new era. And it isn’t the kind its leaders were counting on. On May 1, Lee Saunders, president of the union’s parent organization, the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, placed the local under trusteeship. The previous day, AFSCME trial officers had removed UPW Hawaii State Director Dayton Nakanelua and Fiscal & Membership Services Administrator Jeanne Endo from their posts. Back in mid-February, an AFSCME audit had concluded that officials of the 13,000-member UPW had been spending large sums for unauthorized purposes. “It is my responsibility to ensure that our union is run with transparency and integrity at every level – and to take action when an emergency exists,” said Saunders.
The Honolulu-based United Public Workers, also known as AFSCME Local 646, as Union Corruption Update noted a couple of weeks ago, has a history of corruption. Back in … Read More ➡
Melvin Fishburn couldn’t delay the inevitable forever. Belatedly, he is going away for a while. On March 5, Fishburn, former business manager for International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local 743 and a trustee of the pension plan of the Reading, Pa.-based union, was sentenced in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania to 15 months in prison plus three years of supervised release for stealing funds from the plan. He also was ordered to pay $81,413 in restitution and an $800 special assessment. He had pleaded guilty last July to four counts each of embezzlement and wire fraud. The actions follow an investigation by Labor Department’s Office of Inspector General and the Employee Benefit Security Administration.
According to prosecutors, Fishburn, now 57, a resident of Charleston, S.C., during July 2010-June 2014 concocted an elaborate scheme to divert retirement plan assets to his own personal use. He created a … Read More ➡
Harold Schaitberger (in photo), longtime head of the International Association of Fire Fighters (IAFF), has a reputation for wielding unchallenged power. But that power soon may dissipate in the wake of a memo prepared by the union’s number-two man. On March 20, IAFF Secretary-Treasurer Edward Kelly circulated a 105-page internal memorandum accusing Schaitberger and Kelly predecessor Thomas Miller of misusing or outright stealing about $6 million in union funds, especially pension assets. The memo, which followed an outside audit, also accuses Schaitberger of concealing these losses from the union executive board. Schaitberger disputes the charges, calling them “reckless and destructive.” But the IRS, the Department of Labor and the U.S. Attorney’s Office are conducting a probe that may conclude otherwise.
The International Association of Fire Fighters, which represents more than 300,000 firefighters in the U.S. and Canada, is a very influential public-sector union. And Harold Schaitberger is a big reason … Read More ➡
The reputation of United Public Workers, never all that favorable, has taken another hit. This February, an internal audit prepared by the parent union, the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME), concluded that officials of the 13,000-member Hawaii affiliate spent more than $300,000 (and possibly a good deal more) on unauthorized or suspect purposes over two and half years. The 25-page report, a copy of which was obtained by the Honolulu Star-Advertiser, stated: “There does not appear to be meaningful oversight on how funds are spent and accounted for, and…the opportunity for abuse of misuse of union funds exists as a result.” The audit did not accuse anyone of criminal wrongdoing. Union officials have vowed to meet AFSCME transparency standards.
Hawaii has been the site of an unusual number of recent union corruption cases in federal court. Raymond Fujii, former head of a contractors’ … Read More ➡
Anthony Dehl isn’t quite having the retirement he anticipated. On February 11, Dehl, former treasurer for the Waterloo Education Association, an affiliate of the National Education Association, pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Iowa to wire fraud in the sum of $54,254 against the association. He was a longtime teacher with Waterloo Community Schools until his retirement last year. Dehl had been charged on January 28 following federal and state investigations. A sentencing date has not been set.
According to prosecutors, Dehl over a roughly five-year period diverted funds from union accounts to his own personal use. Unauthorized transactions included wire transfers, cash withdrawals, debit card purchases, and checks made out to cash. He spent a sizable portion of that money on gambling. In addition, he concealed the thefts by falsifying reports to the U.S. Labor Department and the Iowa Public Employment Relations Board. School … Read More ➡
Michael Buchanan had overbilling down to a fine science. He is now paying the price. On February 27, Buchanan, founder and former operator of a Harrisburg, Pa.-based dental and vision claims processing service, was sentenced in U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Pennsylvania to 37 months in prison, to be followed by three years of supervised release, for stealing nearly $1.5 million from a benefit fund sponsored by the Association of Pennsylvania State College and University Faculties. He also was ordered to pay full restitution, part of which will include his brokerage account funds. Buchanan had pleaded guilty last May to one count of health care fraud. The actions follow an investigation by the FBI and the U.S. Labor Department’s Office of Inspector General.
The Association of Pennsylvania State College and University Faculties (APSCUF) for nearly 50 years has served as the collective bargaining representative for about 5,000 … Read More ➡
Unions long have bitterly opposed the Right to Work principle. But some, in their desire to generate dues, may deceive workers into joining. International Brotherhood of Teamsters Local 120 did – and so far hasn’t succeeded. On March 25, two Minnesota building materials employees announced a back pay settlement of more than $30,000 with a former employer for illegally firing them at the strong behest of Local 120. The workers, James Connolly and Charles Winter, had charged last spring that the company and the union falsely told them, several times, that union membership was a condition of employment. The case underscores organized labor’s reluctance to accept the Supreme Court’s Beck decision of over 30 years ago. A complaint filed by Connolly and Winter with the National Labor Relations Board remains active.
The saga began on April 9, 2019, when James Connolly, a recent hire at OMG Midwest’s Belle Plaine, Minnesota … Read More ➡
When Glenn Blicht demanded money, he expected to receive it. What he’s expecting now is incarceration. On February 12, Blicht, former president of the Ridgefield Park, N.J.-based International Longshoremen’s Association Local 164, was sentenced in Manhattan federal court to two years in prison for demanding and receiving about $150,000 in payments over several years from an unnamed unionized employer in exchange for dropping the union’s arbitration complaints over alleged unfair labor practices. Such play-for-pay deals are illegal under the Taft-Hartley Act. Blicht had pleaded guilty last October after being charged in July. The actions follow a probe by the FBI, the IRS and the Labor Department’s Office of Inspector General and Employee Benefits Security Administration.
As Union Corruption Update had explained twice earlier (here and here), Glenn Blicht, a resident of Wilton, Connecticut and an officer of Local 164 during 2009-19, shortly after taking office began demanding cash … Read More ➡