Orville and Teri Rae Merritt aren’t married to each other anymore. They’re probably relieved, too. On October 18, Orville Merritt, ex-business manager and treasurer of Laborers International Union of North America Local 1168, pleaded guilty in the 78th District Court of Texas for his role in the theft of nearly $46,000 in funds from the Wichita Falls union, and was sentenced to three years in prison. His sentence reflects his creating a fake Facebook account in his wife’s name in order to defraud her. Teri Rae Merritt, now known as Teri Rae Coan, shouldn’t get much sympathy. On October 30, she was sentenced to 10 years of supervision for theft from the union, where she had been office manager. She had pleaded guilty on October 25 after being charged on October 4. Both must pay restitution. The actions follow a probe by the U.S. Department of Labor.
Laborers Local … Read More ➡
The strike by nearly 50,000 United Auto Workers against General Motors ended after nearly six weeks on October 25. But Jeffrey Pietrzyk’s troubles are far from over. On October 22, Pietrzyk, a retired top aide to ex-UAW Vice President Joe Ashton, pleaded guilty in Ann Arbor federal court to honest services fraud and money laundering charges in connection with his acceptance of about $123,000 in bribes and kickbacks from union vendors. He had been charged on September 20. His offenses were part of a dozen-year, $2 million scheme in the union’s GM Department led by now-convicted ex-UAW official Michael Grimes. The actions follow an investigation by the FBI, the IRS and the U.S. Labor Department’s Office of Labor-Management Standards and Office of Inspector General.
Union Corruption Update covered this scandal in August and September. The United Auto Workers’ General Motors Department, like its Chrysler Department, has been the focus … Read More ➡
On October 10, Shannon Pemberton, former treasurer of International Union of Painters and Allied Trades Local 238, was indicted in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Kentucky for embezzling $6,403 in funds from the Cincinnati-based union. The alleged offenses occurred in neighboring Kentucky. The charge follows an investigation by the U.S. Labor Department’s Office of Labor-Management Standards.… Read More ➡
On October 1, James Young, president of American Federation of Teachers Local 4973, was charged in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania with embezzlement of funds from the Philadelphia union in the sum of $7,050. The charge follows an investigation by the U.S. Labor Department’s Office of Labor-Management Standards.… Read More ➡
These last few months haven’t been good to the mob-connected former leaders of two Brooklyn, N.Y. affiliates of the United Food and Commercial Workers. One of them, Vincent D’Acunto, head of UFCW Local 2D, was sentenced in August. Now it’s Frank Cognetta’s turn. On September 6, Cognetta, former secretary-treasurer of UFCW Local 1D, was sentenced in Manhattan federal court to two years in prison and three years of supervised release for racketeering conspiracy related to his fleecing the Brooklyn union in return for kickbacks from a benefits consultant. Cognetta, like D’Acunto, had pleaded guilty this March after being indicted in January 2018. The actions follow a probe by the FBI, the NYPD, and the U.S. Labor Department’s Office of Labor-Management Standards and Office of Inspector General.
According to prosecutors, Cognetta, a resident of Staten Island, “engaged in multiple schemes to defraud his union…by, among other things, soliciting and accepting bribes … Read More ➡
On September 27, Gregg Pedersen, former president of Association of Civilian Technicians Local 75, pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Iowa to one count of wire fraud in the amount of $6,320 from the Sioux City-based union. He had been charged in August. The actions follow a probe by the U.S. Labor Department’s Office of Labor-Management Standards.… Read More ➡
On September 17, Travis Cofer, former secretary-treasurer of United Steelworkers Local 990, was indicted in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Tennessee on one count of embezzling $12,432 in funds from the Maryville (near Knoxville) union. The indictment follows an investigation by the U.S. Labor Department’s Office of Labor-Management Standards.… Read More ➡
Until recently, Tony Liesenfeld represented guards at Lewisburg Federal Penitentiary. In an odd twist of fate, he’s now facing the possibility of being an inmate there or somewhere else like it. On October 4, Liesenfeld, former president and secretary-treasurer of American Federation of Government Employees Local 148, pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Pennsylvania to an information count of wire fraud against the union totaling more than $77,000 over several years. The plea includes a requirement to make full restitution on top of any sentence. He had been charged on September 13. The actions follow an investigation by the U.S. Labor Department’s Office of Labor-Management Standards.
Over its nearly 90-year history, Lewisburg federal prison has served as a temporary home to a rogues’ gallery of convicts including Whitey Bulger, John Gotti and Jimmy Hoffa. Tony Liesenfeld isn’t remotely in their class. But as head of … Read More ➡
On August 15, Earl Roberts, former president of United Steelworkers Local 4, was charged in a three-count information in U.S. District for the Eastern District of Michigan with embezzling $53,697 in funds from the Yale (St. Clair County) union. The charge follows an investigation by the U.S. Labor Department’s Office of Labor-Management Standards.
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On September 12, Juan Evereteze, former president of American Federation of Government Employees Local 3258, admitted to a sufficient finding of facts in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, Suffolk County Superior Court for larceny. He then was sentenced to four years of probation, the first year of which would be supervised, and ordered to pay $38,000 in restitution. An Alford plea, though not a formal guilty plea, is an admission that the facts as presented are sufficient for a conviction. Local 3258 represents employees of the Boston Regional Office of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. The actions follow a probe by the U.S. Labor Department’s Office of Labor-Management Standards.… Read More ➡