Philadelphia-Area Contractor Sentenced for Theft, Bribery in IBEW Corruption Probe

For George Peltz, running a business and ripping off a union often meant the same thing. That’s why he’s no longer involved in either. On May 20, Peltz, a Philadelphia-area contractor, was sentenced in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania to 18 months in prison and two years of probation for bribery, theft from a benefit fund, and tax fraud related to his dealings with International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local 98. He also paid nearly $1 million in restitution. Peltz had pleaded guilty in January. The actions are part of a larger federal and state joint probe of corruption in Philadelphia that thus far has implicated a city council member, a Pennsylvania Supreme Court justice, a couple of contractors and several Local 98 officials.

Union Corruption Update earlier had analyzed a sweeping federal indictment unsealed on January 30 against eight persons in the overlapping worlds of … Read More ➡

Ex-Workers United/SEIU Official in Chicago Indicted for Conspiracy, Wire Fraud

On May 7, Robert Kurtycz, former comptroller for Workers United’s Chicago and Midwest Regional Joint Board, was indicted in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois on one count of conspiracy to commit commercial bribery plus six counts of wire fraud. The wire fraud charges are related to Kurtycz’s electronic transfer of funds from the Chicago-based labor organization for his receipt of unauthorized expense reimbursements totaling $85,962. Workers United is an affiliate of the Service Employees International Union. The indictments follow an investigation by the U.S. Labor Department’s Office of Labor-Management Standards, Office of Inspector General, and Employee Benefits Security Administration.… Read More ➡

Office Employee of Dallas-Area Plumbers Local Indicted for Theft

On May 17, Claudia Beltran, former office assistant for United Association of Plumbers and Pipefitters Local 100, was indicted in Kaufman County, Texas court for misapplication of fiduciary property in the sum of between $2,500 and $30,000. The union is based in nearby Garland (Dallas County). The indictment follows an investigation by the U.S. Labor Department’s Office of Labor-Management Standards.… Read More ➡

Operating Engineers Secretary in Tennessee Sentenced for Embezzlement

On May 17, Caroline Phelps, former office secretary of International Union of Operating Engineers Local 369, was sentenced in U.S. District Court for the Western District of Tennessee to three years of probation for embezzling funds from the Cordova (Shelby County) union. She also was ordered to pay restitution in the amount of $36,823 plus a $100 special assessment. Phelps had pleaded guilty in February. The actions follow a probe by the U.S. Labor Department’s Office of Labor-Management Standards.… Read More ➡

Florida NSO Treasurer Indicted for Embezzlement

On May 7, Amy Barber (Rodman), former treasurer for the Florida state affiliate of the National Staff Organization, was indicted in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Florida on one count of embezzling funds of an unspecified sum from the union and one count of filing a false financial report to cover up the theft. The NSO represents employees of various unions. The charges follow an investigation by the U.S. Labor Department’s Office of Labor-Management Standards.… Read More ➡

Kansas City-Area Boilermakers Local Boss Arrested in Knife Attack

The International Brotherhood of Boilermakers, as Union Corruption Update has noted in the past, is a union that spends lavish sums on salaries and benefits for its top officials. One of its affiliates is earning disrepute of a different sort. Early last month, Scot Whitney Albertson, business manager for the Kansas City, Mo.-based Boilermakers Local 83, was arrested in Council Bluffs, Iowa for causing bodily injury in connection with his alleged stabbing of two men. Neither injury was considered life-threatening. No word is yet available on whether the attack was over union business. Union international headquarters in Kansas City, Kansas refused to comment on the matter, claiming it did not have sufficient facts. So let us look at some material facts.

According to court records, just after midnight on May 5, Council Bluffs police were called to a crime scene near Albertson’s residence. Upon arrival, two injured men told … Read More ➡

Michigan Lawmaker Charged with Seeking Bribe from Carpenters Officials

Larry Inman’s vote apparently was for sale. But what does that say about who was paying? On May 15, Inman, a three-term Republican in the Michigan House of Representatives, was indicted in Grand Rapids federal court for attempted extortion, solicitation of a bribe, and lying to the FBI related to his seeking cash payments from a Carpenters union affiliate in exchange for a favorable vote on a prevailing wage bill. He is declaring his innocence, but has an uphill climb. House Speaker Lee Chatfield, also a Republican, wants him to resign. And Mike Jackson, executive secretary for the Michigan Regional Council of Carpenters and Millwrights, is glad Inman “is being brought to justice.” Yet the details are far from completely known. Inman pleaded not guilty at his arraignment on May 28. And the union may have ulterior motives.

Organized labor long has supported the federal Davis-Bacon Act of 1931 and … Read More ➡

Washington State SEIU Affiliate Settles Suit Over Forged Signature

Service Employees International Union Local 775, it seems, would do anything for a buck, including collecting dues from a former member. It’s now learned its limitations. On March 29, the Seattle-based union reached an out-of-court agreement with a Spokane home caregiver, Cindy Ochoa, following its admission that one of its canvassers had forged her signature on a membership card. Ochoa, with the help of a nonprofit legal group, the Freedom Foundation, had filed a lawsuit in federal court in October alleging the union had violated her First Amendment rights, unlawfully withheld part of her wages, and caused emotional distress. Local 775 agreed to pay $15,000 in damages to her and $13,000 to the foundation to cover legal fees, plus send her a written apology.

SEIU Local 775 represents more than 45,000 long-term health care providers in Washington State and Montana, many of them operating out of their homes on behalf … Read More ➡

TCU Treasurer in Ohio Charged with Embezzlement

On or a little before May 9, Bud Sherwood, former secretary-treasurer of Transportation Communications Union Lodge 6546, was charged in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Ohio with embezzling about $10,800 in funds from the Bellevue (near Sandusky)-based union, which represents railroad and other transportation employees. The alleged offenses occurred during February 2014-November 2016. TCU is an affiliate of the International Association of Machinists. The action follows a probe by the U.S. Labor Department’s Office of Labor-Management Standards.… Read More ➡

Northern Virginia Union Official Pleads Guilty to Fraud, Kickbacks

This March, Union Corruption Update made mention of an unnamed union official who enabled a convicted Maryland contractor, Howard Janoske, to siphon funds from his unnamed union for his own personal use. At least the official now has a name, and a criminal conviction to go along with it. On May 16, Michael Carney, a former facilities and real estate manager for the Herndon, Va.-based union, pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia to one count of conspiracy to commit honest services wire fraud, theft and embezzlement of funds over a three-year period. Carney’s conviction, like that of Janoske, follows an investigation by the U.S. Labor Department’s Office of Labor-Management Standards and Office of Inspector General.

Michael Carney, now 63, a resident of Ashburn, Va., who handled physical plant issues for the union, also saw his job as an opportunity to score some illegal money. … Read More ➡