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.
There are few workplaces in this country that can match the shipping terminal when it comes to wage and hour fraud – especially if the dockworkers are unionized. Back in December, Columbia Export Terminal in Portland, Oregon filed a lawsuit in U.S. District Court for the District of Oregon against the International Longshore and Warehouse Union and more than 150 of its members, accusing them of participating in a conspiracy to inflate their on-the-clock time in a variety of ways. The schemes allegedly cost the terminal over $5 million. The union, the suit reads, “organized and orchestrated the scheme to submit falsified time sheets.” A court spokesperson told National Legal and Policy Center yesterday afternoon that the case remains active, though a pretrial hearing has yet to be scheduled.
The Department of Labor’s Office of Labor-Management Standards, as NLPC readers well know, has identified and helped prosecute much union corruption over the years. But the agency’s efforts would be even better realized if it finalized a pair of dormant rules promised two years ago. The first would establish a new financial reporting form, T-1, requiring unions with at least some private-sector members to disclose financial data for pension funds and other trusts. The second would impose financial reporting upon intermediate-level unions. Each had been proposed during the first term of the Bush presidency but shelved under President Obama. Contrary to frequent assertions from labor leaders, these regulations would not be burdensome. But they are likely to make unions more responsive to dues-paying members.
Sometimes union corruption cases merge in unexpected ways. That was the case in the sentencings of Salvatore Armao and Karen Auer, respectively, the managing partner and principal officer of a Long Island accounting firm. On February 26, Armao was sentenced in U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York to two years of supervised release, including six months of home confinement, to making false statements related to aiding and abetting embezzlement by a union president. He also was ordered to pay $9,592 in restitution, $18,700 in asset forfeiture and a $3,000 fine. A little over a week later, on March 8, Auer was sentenced to one year of supervised release and ordered to pay $7,194 in restitution. Each had pleaded guilty last August following a joint probe by the FBI and the U.S. Department of Labor.
Salvatore Armao, founder and managing partner of the Garden City (Long Island), … Read More ➡
John Matassa Jr.’s biggest mistake was trying to qualify for an early retirement. He now is qualified for incarceration. On February 26, Matassa, secretary-treasurer of Independent Union of Amalgamated Workers Local 711, pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois to one count of embezzling $738 in union funds, far below what he actually had stolen from the union and the government. He had been indicted in May 2017 on 10 counts related to his creating a no-show union job for his wife and collecting Social Security benefits for himself. Matassa for decades has been a reputed “made man” in the Chicago mob. The plea deal calls for 15 to 21 months in prison, plus $66,500 in restitution. The actions follow a probe by the Social Security Administration and the Labor Department’s Office of Labor-Management Standards and Office of Inspector General.
John “Pudgy” Matassa Jr., now … Read More ➡
John Ulrich may have seen the arrangement as a business deal, but federal prosecutors see it as a crime. On February 21, Ulrich, formerly vice president of International Brotherhood of Teamsters Local 812, was indicted in Manhattan federal court with soliciting and receiving tens of thousands of dollars in bribes from an unnamed administrator for the health plan of the Great Neck (Long Island), N.Y.-based union in return for retaining that company as a client. Ulrich, who was a plan trustee as well as a union officer, had been arrested earlier that day. He pleaded not guilty, and was released on $100,000 bond. The indictment follows a joint probe by the FBI and the Labor Department’s Office of Labor-Management Standards, Office of Inspector General and Employee Benefits Security Administration.
Teamsters Local 812 represents about 3,000 soft drink and brewery workers in the New York City metropolitan area. John Ulrich, now … Read More ➡
Considering what Sergio Acosta stole, and enabled his business partner to steal, he is one lucky man. On January 15, Acosta, formerly president of United Auto Workers Local 2326 and trustee of a related health plan, was sentenced in Trenton federal court to three years of supervised release for scamming the plan and keeping a large portion of claims payouts. He also was ordered to pay $32,000 in restitution. Acosta had pleaded guilty last April to a superseding information count of theft, embezzlement and fund conversion. He and a New Jersey businessman, Lawrence Ackerman, had been charged in January 2017 in the scheme, which resulted in a $6.6 million loss to Horizon Blue Cross Blue Shield of New Jersey. Ackerman, who pleaded guilty in December, is set for sentencing on March 20. The actions follow a U.S. Labor Department probe.
As Union Corruption Update has noted (here and here), Sergio … Read More ➡
For years, Rocco Fazzolari used his union and a related benefit plan as sources of easy money. He’s now about to live the hard life. Fazzolari, formerly president of United Industrial and Service Employees Union Local 122, today was sentenced in Manhattan federal court to 37 months in prison for embezzlement, false record-keeping and receiving kickbacks from the East Meadow (Long Island), N.Y. -based union. Through these schemes, he and an unnamed co-conspirator had enriched themselves by more than $1.3 million. In addition to serving prison time, he will have to forfeit $941,828 in assets and pay restitution of $1,288,810.75. Fazzolari had pleaded guilty in September following a joint probe by the U.S. Labor Department’s Office of Labor-Management Standards, Office of Inspector General, and Employee Benefits Security Administration.
The year 2018 saw the indictment, conviction and sentences of plenty of organized labor scams. New York City played host to some of the largest. For sheer magnitude, nothing anywhere could match the network of union fraud surrounding the construction of Hudson Yards, a large-scale, mixed-use development on Manhattan’s West Side. Set for completion in 2024, the project from the start has been a source of easy money for labor organizations affiliated with the Building and Construction Trades Council of Greater New York. The general contractor, Related Companies, having reached the limits of frustration, filed suit last March with the State Supreme Court against the council and its president for promoting or allowing illegal practices that allegedly have added over $100 million to the total project cost.
The defendants came into the courtroom in large volume, but the judge was more than up to the task. On November 19, fully 27 members of local unions affiliated with the Indiana/Kentucky/Ohio Regional Council of the United Association of Carpenters and Joiners were sentenced in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Indiana for defrauding the council’s health care program out of a combined $531,422.68. Though court records do not indicate any prison sentences, the defendants, all of them Indiana residents, were ordered to pay restitution. The actions follow a joint investigation by the U.S. Labor Department’s Office of Inspector General and Employee Benefits Security Administration, assisted by Indiana state officials.
According to prosecutors, each of the accused union members had filed fake claims for medical expenses with the Greenwood, Ind.-based council. One of them, Luka Kljajic, who pleaded guilty this July, during 2012-14 had coached various … Read More ➡