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 ➡

FBI Raids Office of Philadelphia Electrical Workers Local

Don’t tell International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local 98 that lightning can’t strike twice in the same place. For them, it’s now happened. Around 7 A.M., October 16, FBI agents raided the headquarters of the Philadelphia union in search of evidence of threats of violent retaliation by union leaders against certain dissenting members. Authorities would not say if the search was related to an August 2016 FBI raid connected to an influence-peddling scandal implicating IBEW Local 98 Business Manager John Dougherty, Philadelphia City Council Member Bobby Henon, and certain other persons. That case produced multiple indictments a couple years later for bribery, embezzlement, concealment, and tax evasion. A former City official and an unindicted contractor thus far have pleaded guilty.

IBEW Local 98, with about 5,000 active members, for decades has been close to Philadelphia’s construction industry and City Hall. Some might say too close. On January 30, 2019, a … Read More ➡

Eleven New York Building Trades Union Officials Charged in Bribery Racket

New York City-area construction unions are well-known for being on the take. A recent announcement by the U.S. Department of Justice won’t likely alter that reputation. On October 1, the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York announced the arrest and indictment of 11 officials of the New York State Building and Construction Trades Council on various charges related to their receipt of over $100,000 in bribes from nonunion contractors in return for bid-rigging, in the process selling out the dues-paying union members whom they represented. Led by Trades Council President James Cahill, the defendants are current or former members of two local affiliates of the United Association of Plumbers & Pipefitters. Aiding in the probe was the Suffolk County (Long Island), N.Y. district attorney’s office. All the defendants pleaded not guilty at arraignment.

It’s a common form of back-scratching in the world of organized labor: An … Read More ➡

Long Island Teamster Official Sentenced for Bribe-Taking

John Ulrich exacted a high price for his favors. Now he’s paying a high price. On July 22, Ulrich, ex-vice president and recording secretary of the Great Neck (Long Island), N.Y.-based International Brotherhood of Teamsters Local 812, was sentenced in Manhattan federal court to 18 months in prison, to be followed by two years of supervised release, for soliciting and receiving bribes from a union health plan administrator in return for retaining that person’s services. He also was ordered to forfeit $55,000 in personal assets and pay restitution in a sum to be determined later. Ulrich had pleaded guilty in December 2019 following his indictment that February. The actions follow a probe by the FBI and the U.S. Labor Department’s Office of Labor-Management Standards, Office of Inspector General and Employee Benefits Security Administration.

Teamsters Local 812 represents about 3,000 beverage industry workers in the New York City metropolitan area. Its … Read More ➡

Pompeo is Right; Menendez is a Crook, but How Did He Get Off?

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo accused Senator Robert Menedez (D-NJ) of orchestrating the controversy over the firing of State Department Inspector General Steve Linick.

Abbe Lowell and his client

Pompeo said. “I don’t get my ethics guidance from a man who was criminally prosecuted — case number 15-155, New Jersey Federal District Court. A man for whom his Senate colleagues, bipartisan said basically that he was taking bribes. That’s not someone who I look to for ethics guidance.”

Pompeo is right. Menendez is a crook. He should have been forced out of the Senate and gone to jail with his co-defendant Salomon Melgen. But it was the Trump Justice Department that let Menendez off the hook.

As we have recounted previously, Menendez was tried on bribery and related charges, but that trial ended in a mistrial on November 16, 2017, and the Justice Department made a decision not to retry … Read More ➡

NYC-Area Longshoremen President Pleads Guilty to Extracting Bribes

Glenn Blicht sold out his union for a price. Now he’s on the verge of paying a different kind of price. On October 16, Justice Department officials announced that Blicht, former president of International Longshoremen’s Association Local 164, had pleaded guilty in Manhattan federal court two days earlier to demanding and accepting about $150,000 in bribes over several years from a representative of an employer in exchange for the union backing away from filing arbitration complaints against the company. He had been arrested and charged in July. As part of the plea deal, Blicht must forfeit $150,000 and pay restitution. He faces up to five years in prison. The employer representative already had pleaded guilty. The actions follow a joint probe by the FBI, the IRS and U.S. Labor Department’s Office of Inspector General and Employee Benefits Security Administration.

Union Corruption Update had reported on this story last summer. Glenn … Read More ➡

Long Island Teamster V.P. Pleads Guilty to Bribe-Taking

John Ulrich might have called it payola, but prosecutors called it bribery. And evidence indicates they were right. On December 12, Ulrich, former vice president of the Great Neck (Long Island), N.Y.-based International Brotherhood of Teamsters Local 812 and a trustee of its health plan, pleaded guilty in Manhattan federal court to soliciting tens of thousands of dollars in bribes from an official with the plan’s third-party contractor in return for ensuring the union’s retention of the company. Ulrich had been indicted last February following a joint investigation by the FBI and the U.S. Labor Department’s Office of Labor-Management Standards, Office of Inspector General, and Employee Benefits Security Administration. Sentencing is set for April 23.

Teamsters Local 812 represents more than 3,000 soft drink and brewery production, bottling, delivery and auxiliary workers in the New York City metropolitan area. It also has a health benefit plan lucrative enough to attract … Read More ➡

Associate of Philadelphia IBEW Boss Pleads Guilty to Fraud

James Moylan is about the last person that International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local 98 wants to see taking the witness stand. But those fears might be realized. On October 16, Moylan, a longtime friend of John Dougherty, business manager of the powerful Philadelphia union, pleaded guilty in federal court to 17 counts of wire fraud and four counts of filing false income tax returns in connection with his theft of around $49,000 from two nonprofit groups, each in some way supported by the union. He had been charged in January following a joint probe by the FBI, the IRS, the U.S. Labor Department’s Office of Labor-Management Standards, Office of Inspector General, and Employee Benefits Security Administration, plus the Pennsylvania State Police and Attorney General’s Office.

IBEW Local 98, now with about 4,700 members, for years has held a prominent place in the overlapping worlds of Philadelphia labor, real estate … 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 ➡

NYC Carpenters Officials Charged in Union Admissions Bribery Scheme

If you wanted to get into the union, Salvatore Tagliaferro or John Defalco could help you for a price. It appears now that the two will pay more than they collected. On June 27, Tagliaferro and Defalco, respectively, president of Local 926 (Brooklyn) and vice president of Local 157 (Manhattan) of the United Brotherhood of Carpenters and Joiners, were arrested and indicted in Manhattan federal court on various charges related to their roles in a scheme to solicit and receive cash bribes in return for admission to the union for aspiring members. The defendants allegedly generated tens of thousands of dollars for themselves in this manner. The charges follow a probe by the U.S. Labor Department’s Office of Labor-Management Standards and Office of Inspector General, and the New York City Department of Investigation.

According to charging documents, Salvatore “Sal” Tagliaferro, now 54, a resident of Staten Island, N.Y., and John … Read More ➡