Ex-UAW Vice President Joe Ashton Sentenced for Taking Bribes, Kickbacks

The unfinished business of the United Auto Workers scandal is nearing its end. A week ago, on November 17, Joe Ashton, former vice president of the UAW’s General Motors Department, was sentenced in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan to 30 months in prison for receiving over $250,000 in illegal bribes and kickbacks from a union vendor, and for conspiring with two fellow union officials to launder the proceeds. He had pleaded guilty last December. Several ranking UAW officials, including its two previous presidents, already have pleaded guilty to embezzlement, racketeering and tax fraud charges. The actions follow a joint investigation by the FBI, the IRS and the Labor Department’s Office of Labor-Management Standards and Office of Inspector General.

Ashton, now 72, a resident of Ocean View, N.J., is a retired UAW vice president. He now is also one 15 defendants convicted of financial crimes related to … Read More ➡

Medical Lab Settles with Feds, West Virginia Mine Workers Local for $1.2M+

Benefit fraud has become an enormous form of theft from labor unions. Add one more case to the list. On October 23, federal prosecutors announced a settlement with a Michigan-based company, Great Lakes Medical Laboratory, Inc., for a little over $1.2 million, a sum representing twice the company’s combined fraudulent billings of the Medicare program and a United Mine Workers of America-affiliated health plan in West Virginia. “This settlement demonstrates my office’s commitment to protect critical Medicare dollars and union-affiliated benefit plans from fraud and abuse,” said U.S. Attorney Mike Stuart. The action follows a joint probe by the Office of Inspector General of each of the Labor Department and the Health & Human Services Department, plus the U.S. Attorney’s Healthcare Fraud Abuse, Recovery and Response Team (ARREST).

If there has been a state hit harder by the opioid drug crisis than West Virginia, it would be hard to name … Read More ➡

Five Upstate New York Plumbers Plead Guilty in Benefit Scam

Stealing was a group effort at United Association of Plumbers and Pipefitters Local 773. So was pleading guilty. On November 5, the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of New York announced that five members of the Glens Falls, N.Y.-based union had pleaded guilty over the course of July 30 through November 5 of this year to defrauding the union health plan out of a combined sum of more than $65,000. The defendants – Christopher Roberts, Earl Graham, Jamie Ruggiero, Shawn Martindale and Torey Gannon – each had received reimbursements under false pretenses. As part of the agreement, they agreed to pay restitution. The pleas follow a joint probe by the U.S. Labor Department’s Office of Inspector General and Employee Benefits Security Administration.

According to prosecutors, the defendants submitted fake receipts for reimbursements of nonexistent medical expenses. Their respective hauls were: Roberts ($11,500); Graham ($14,052.72); Ruggiero ($15,721.70); Martindale ($3,748.89); … Read More ➡

Ohio UAW Local Official Sentenced for Embezzlement

On November 5, Douglas Dye, former unit chairman of United Auto Workers Local 12, was sentenced in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Ohio to one year of probation for embezzling funds from the Toledo union and another year of probation for falsifying union records to conceal the thefts. He also was ordered to pay a $2,500 fine and a $125 special assessment on top of the $8,490 in restitution he already paid. Dye had pleaded guilty in July to embezzling $8,443 in union assets and concealment after being indicted in January. The actions follow an investigation by the U.S. Labor Department’s Office of Labor-Management Standards.… Read More ➡

Ex-Head of Defense Security Union Indicted for $380K+ Embezzlement

Arthur Penn headed a union that represents federal security employees. Unfortunately, he very likely created a good deal of economic insecurity for those employees. On November 6, Penn, who for more than a decade and a half was chairman of the Fraternal Order of Police’s Defense Protective Service Labor Committee Pentagon, was charged in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia for embezzling nearly $400,000 from the union, which represents officers of the Pentagon Force Protection Agency. A grand jury had issued a seven-count indictment for wire fraud earlier that day. The charge follows a joint investigation by the FBI and the U.S. Labor Department’s Office of Labor-Management Standards.

Penn, now 64, a resident of Quantico, Va., headed the Arlington, Va.-based union during 1999-2015. For much of that period, say federal prosecutors, he used his position as a license to steal. He diverted union funds to himself via … Read More ➡

Former AFGE Local President in South Carolina Indicted

On November 5, Brenda Wilson, former president of American Federation of Government Employees Local 3841, was indicted in U.S. District Court for the District of South Carolina for making a false statement in relation to a federal case. No further details are available. The Columbia, S.C.-based Local 3841 represents federal employees in various Southern cities. The charge follows an investigation by the U.S. Labor Department’s Office of Labor-Management Standards.   … Read More ➡

UFCW President in Southern California Charged with Wire Fraud, Identity Theft

On October 30, Aja Jasmin, former president of United Food and Commercial Workers Local 350C, was charged in U.S. District Court for the Central District of California in a two-count information with wire fraud and aggravated identity theft in connection with a scheme to embezzle about $190,000 from the Ontario (San Bernardino County), Calif. union. The charges follow an investigation by the U.S. Labor Department’s Office of Labor-Management Standards and Office of Inspector General.  … Read More ➡

Western Pennsylvania Teachers President Charged with Thefts

For well over four years, Charles Farris pushed the law of averages as far as he could. Now he has to deal with the laws of Pennsylvania. On October 15, Farris, former president of the New Castle Federation of Teachers, an affiliate of the American Federation of Teachers, was charged in Commonwealth of Pennsylvania Court, Lawrence County, with 10 counts of felony theft and one count of misdemeanor theft related to the embezzlement of more than $35,000 in funds from the New Castle, Pa. union. He was arrested later that day, arraigned in court, and then set free. The charges follow an investigation by the U.S. Labor Department’s Office of Labor-Management Standards.

According to the 37-page complaint, Farris, a grade school gym teacher in the New Castle Area School District, during January 1, 2015-September 9, 2019 used his union debit card to make more than 300 unauthorized purchases totaling $35,887. … Read More ➡

Security Guard Employees President in Maryland Sentenced

For Sandra King, heading two unions meant double the opportunities to steal. It also meant double the risks of getting caught and punished. On October 19, King, former president of the Federation of Police & Security and the Alliance of Independent Workers, was sentenced in U.S. District Court for the District of Maryland to five months in prison, five months of home detention and two years of supervised probation for embezzling funds from the unions, each based in Owings Mills (near Baltimore), Md. She also was ordered to make restitution in the amount of $57,328.01 She had pleaded guilty in July after being charged in June. The actions follow an investigation by the U.S. Labor Department’s Office of Labor-Management Standards.

The Federation of Police & Security (FOPS) and the Alliance of Independent Workers (AIW) represent private security employees in Washington, D.C. and Bethesda, Md. Sandra King ran each union starting … Read More ➡

Labor Department Calls Out Steelworkers, AFGE

Longtime readers of this publication no doubt have a sense of which unions are most prone to internal theft. The U.S. Department of Labor certainly does. In separate letters dated October 6, the DOL warned United Steelworkers President Thomas Conway and American Federation of Government Employees (AFGE) President Everett Kelley that their unions are “disproportionately subject to embezzlement.” Anonymous DOL officials told the Daily Caller News Foundation, which had obtained copies of the letters, that such a step is “very rare.” The two labor organizations, respectively, represent about 575,000 and 323,000 members, and have combined assets worth around $1.4 billion. The action suggests that the department is giving extra attention to monitoring annual financial reports of unions generally.

The United Steelworkers, headquartered in Pittsburgh, has seen its share of thefts in the last couple years. This September, Brian Arnold, former financial secretary for the Elmira, N.Y.-based Steelworkers Local … Read More ➡