Laborers Organizer in Phoenix Charged with Theft; Pleads Guilty

On August 23, Mitchell Sharp, a Phoenix-based former organizer for the Laborers International Union of North America, was charged in U.S. District Court for the District of Arizona with one count of theft from an Indian Health Service local office in Phoenix in an amount of more than $1,000. He then pleaded guilty. Sharp allegedly had made unauthorized use of his union credit card. The charge and plea follow a probe by the U.S. Labor Department’s Office of Labor-Management Standards.… Read More ➡

San Francisco-Area AFT Treasurer Charged with Fraud, Theft

It’s a common truism that crooked teacher unions are a problem only for public schools. Ken Morris may be a prime example of the need for revision. On August 29, Morris, treasurer of American Federation of Teachers Local 2240, was charged in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California with five counts of bank fraud and three counts of embezzlement totaling more than $31,000 from the San Francisco-based union, which represents teachers, counselors and librarians employed by the Catholic Archdiocese of San Francisco and the Catholic Diocese of San Jose. A grand jury had indicted Morris a week earlier. The charges follow an investigation by the U.S. Labor Department’s Office of Labor-Management Standards.

According to prosecutors, Morris, now 50, a resident of Alameda, Calif. and a former math teacher at Archbishop Riordan High School in San Francisco, during September 10, 2018-December 10, 2018 took five checks of between … Read More ➡

Postal Workers Secretary-Treasurer in Texas Charged with Embezzlement

On August 21, Wanda Coleman-Gordon, former secretary-treasurer of American Postal Workers Union Local 1477, was charged in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Texas following a grand jury indictment on one count of embezzling $71,063.49 in funds from the Tyler-based union. Coleman-Gordon allegedly stole the money during January 2010-April 2019. Prosecutors are seeking forfeiture of cash or other assets, plus interest. The indictment follows a probe by the U.S. Labor Department’s Office of Labor-Management Standards.… Read More ➡

Maryland AFGE Local Treasurer Sentenced for Embezzlement

For three years, Annette Jones used her union as a personal ATM card. Her card now no longer works. On September 10, Jones, former treasurer of American Federation of Government Employees Local 331, was sentenced in U.S. District Court for the District of Maryland to two years in prison for embezzling more than $80,000 from her union, which represents hundreds of employees at the Perry Point VA Medical Center in Cecil County, Md. She also was ordered to pay full restitution. Jones had pleaded guilty this May after being indicted in June 2018. The actions follow a joint investigation by the Department of Labor’s Office of Labor-Management Standards and the Department of Veterans Affairs’ Office of Inspector General.

Union Corruption Update covered this story in May. Jones, now in her mid-40s, a resident of Port Deposit, Md., conducted a pair of fraud schemes against AFGE Local 331 during July … Read More ➡

UFCW President in Louisiana Pleads Guilty to Embezzlement

On September 17, Mark Douglas, president of United Food and Commercial Workers Local 1101, pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Louisiana to embezzling funds from the Arabi (near New Orleans) union. According to court records, during November 2011-January 2015 Douglas, now 72, a resident of New Orleans, had filed fraudulent claims for “lost time” reimbursement totaling $6,280.91. He had been charged this April with embezzling $7,078.35. AFGE Local 1101 represents employees of Domino Sugar Company. The plea follows an investigation by the U.S. Labor Department’s Office of Labor-Management Standards.… Read More ➡

Iowa Insulators Business Manager Sentenced for Fraud, Embezzlement

Theodore Watson developed two streams of side income over nearly a decade: his union and a charity. Neither was legal. On September 17, Watson, former business manager for International Association of Heat & Frost Insulators and Allied Workers Local 74, was sentenced in U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Iowa to 18 months in prison, plus three years of supervised release, for acts of mail fraud and embezzlement against the Des Moines union and a United Way chapter over nearly a decade. He also was ordered to make restitution of over $125,000. Watson had pleaded guilty in April after being indicted last December. The actions follow an investigation by the U.S. Department of Labor’s Office of Labor-Management Standards.

Now 54, Watson, a resident of Altoona (near Des Moines), Iowa, if nothing else, was inventive in the ways of embezzlement and fraud. According to prosecutors, at various points … Read More ➡

UAW Boss Pleads Guilty, Another Charged in Criminal Schemes

When it comes to self-dealing, the United Auto Workers’ General Motors Department might rival its Chrysler Department. On September 4, Michael Grimes (in photo), a now-retired senior UAW official, pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan to honest services fraud and money laundering in connection with his receipt of over $1.5 million in illegal payoffs from UAW vendors over a dozen years. Eight days later, on September 12, a prominent union regional official, Vance Pearson, was arrested and charged with fraud, embezzlement and money laundering connected to separate schemes. The actions follow a joint 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 described the case of Michael Grimes a few weeks ago. Grimes, now 65 and living in Fort Myers, Fla., had served as a $150,000-a-year administrative assistant to United … Read More ➡

Hawaii IBEW Boss, Family Members Indicted for $1.4M in Thefts

At International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local 1260, stealing was a family business. And business hasn’t been good lately. On August 22, a Honolulu federal court unsealed a 70-count indictment against Brian Ahakuelo, former business manager for the Honolulu local, along with his wife and a sister-in-law, for conspiracy, money laundering, wire fraud and embezzlement related to the disappearance of an estimated $1.4 million in union funds. Ahakuelo and the two others subsequently pleaded not guilty. They will have to contend with indictments handed down the next day of four union members who allegedly rigged a union vote in 2015 to approve a dues hike to cover the losses. The indictments follow a five-year probe by the IRS, the Labor Department and the State of Hawaii.

IBEW Local 1260 represents more than 3,200 utility, broadcast, maintenance and contract workers in Hawaii, Guam and Wake Island. For at least five years, … Read More ➡

Baltimore Ex-AFSCME President Sentenced for Theft

On August 20, Betty Robinson, former president of American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees Local 2751, was sentenced in Baltimore City Circuit Court to five years in prison (suspended) and five years of probation for theft in the sum of $30,150 from the Baltimore-based union. In addition, she was ordered to pay residual restitution in the amount of $26,400. Robinson had pleaded guilty in December 2016 after being indicted in September 2015. The actions follow an investigation by the U.S. Labor Department’s Office of Labor-Management Standards.… Read More ➡

SPFPA President in Detroit Sentenced for Larceny

On August 23, Esper Alexander, former president of Security, Police and Fire Professionals of America Local 1111, was sentenced in Wayne County (Michigan) District Court for the State of Michigan to six months of probation and three days of community service for larceny by conversion of funds from the Detroit union in a sum of at least $200 but less than $1,000. He had pleaded guilty in July. The actions follow an investigation by the U.S. Labor Department’s Office of Labor-Management Standards.… Read More ➡