Fire Fighters Union Boss Schaitberger Accused of Skimming $6M

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 ➡

AFSCME Audit of Hawaii Affiliate Reveals Suspicious Spending

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 ➡

Teachers Union Treasurer in Iowa Pleads Guilty to Fraud

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 ➡

Contractor Sentenced for $1.5M Ripoff of Pennsylvania Faculty Union Health Plan

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 ➡

Two Minnesota Workers Win $30K Settlement from Teamster-Represented Employer

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 ➡

Longshoremen Boss in NYC Area Sentenced for Extracting Bribes

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 ➡

Four Indicted in Southern California Pain Clinic Scam; ILWU Plan Loses $3M

The ingenuity underlying health care fraud in America is almost boundless. A recent bust of a scam in Southern California is a prime example. In the first week of February, federal agents arrested four persons for fleecing two benefit plans out of a combined $22 million of which $3 million came from one jointly sponsored by the International Longshore and Warehouse Union (ILWU) and the Pacific Maritime Association. The defendants – James Nate Bell, Regina Piehl, Michael Edwards and Sara Samhat – had been indicted on January 29 by a Santa Ana federal grand jury for collecting insurance reimbursements based on unnecessary compound cream prescriptions. The actions follow an ongoing probe by the FBI, the IRS, the Defense Department, and the Labor Department’s Office of Inspector General and Employee Benefits Security Administration.

The last decade has been rife with health plan fraud. In the Chicago area, for example, Dr. Richard Read More ➡

Ex-Head of Maine Union Co-op Named in Racketeering Suit

The annual Maine lobster catch might not be in trouble, but certain people who sell it are. On December 5, Lobster 207, a wholesale marketing cooperative owned by the Maine Lobstering Union, an affiliate of the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers, filed a civil racketeering complaint in Bangor federal court against its former head, Warren Pettegrow, his company Poseidon Charters Inc., and three other persons. The suit alleges the defendants engaged in a two-year scheme to loot the co-op. The union for now is seeking a $1.94 million lien on defendant properties. Pettegrow is denying all charges. Thimi Mina, the Portland attorney representing Lobster 207, asserts the alleged thefts “caused significant financial injuries.”

This crustacean tale of woe has its origins in 2017, after the Maine Lobstering Union purchased the wholesale operations of Trenton Bridge Lobster Pound for $4 million from Anthony and Josette Pettegrow, parents of Warren … Read More ➡

Teamsters Bookkeeper in Tennessee Sentenced for Records Fraud

On March 11, Judith Barker, former bookkeeper for International Brotherhood of Teamsters Local 519, was sentenced in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Tennessee to two years of probation, and ordered to pay $5,400 in restitution and a $25 special assessment, for concealing thefts in the records of the Knoxville-based union. Barker had pleaded guilty in November. The actions follow a probe by the U.S. Labor Department’s Office of Labor-Management Standards. … Read More ➡

FBI Probes $500K+ in Border Patrol Union Missing Funds

The U.S. Border Patrol protects our borders against persons who attempt to enter our country illegally. It’s risky and often thankless work. Some of its former members, however, may have performed thankless work of a lesser kind: looting their union. A report published in late February by ProPublica and then in other news outlets revealed that the FBI is investigating the disappearance of more than $500,000 from the bank accounts of the National Border Patrol Council, centering on the local for the El Paso sector. Council President Brandon Judd apprised his agents of the situation last November. “We know the FBI is looking into it,” he said. Rumors had been circulating that the finances of the Washington, D.C.-based union, an affiliate of the American Federation of Government Employees, are in disarray.

Border protection is a necessary function of any nation. And agents for the U.S. Border Patrol, part of U.S. … Read More ➡