When going after organized corruption, the leader normally is the last to fall. Such was the case of the Romero family. Last Tuesday, January 5, John S. Romero, ex-president of the United Industrial Service Workers of America (UISWA), was sentenced in U.S. District Court for the Central District of California to 12 years in prison for his lead role in embezzling nearly $800,000 from the Colton (San Bernardino County), Calif.-based union’s health plan through various schemes. He had been convicted by a jury last February. His former wife, Evelyn Romero, and two adult children, John J. and Danae Romero, already had pleaded guilty and received sentences. He faces a restitution hearing in April. The actions follow a probe by the U.S. Labor Department’s Office of Labor-Management Standards, Office of Inspector General and Employee Benefits Security Administration.
The United Auto Workers knew a settlement was coming. Now comes the hard part: compliance. This past Monday, December 14, Matthew Schneider, U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Michigan, announced that his office and the UAW had settled a civil suit filed earlier that day against the union based on acts of fraud, embezzlement and tax evasion committed by certain among its members. Criminal investigations had led to charges and convictions of 15 individuals, mostly union officials, including recent UAW Presidents Gary Jones and Dennis Williams. Most thus far have received sentences. The consent order, which requires court approval, creates an Independent Monitor possessed of the authority for up to six years to investigate and discipline corruption.
Union Corruption Update has covered this two-part investigation many times (such as here and here) since it broke open in July 2017. The 400,000-member, Detroit-based United Auto Workers, though … Read More ➡
For a few years, Sarah Geddes Holmes used her union like a personal bank. She now might be facing a few years in prison. Last Thursday, December 3, Holmes, former secretary-treasurer of International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers Local 24, pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court for the District of Maryland to embezzling nearly $300,000 in funds from the union through embezzlement and bank fraud. She had been charged in an information count on November 23. The union represents more than 400 employees of a combined 10 employers at Andrews Air Force Base in Maryland. As part of her plea agreement, she must pay full restitution. The actions follow an investigation by the U.S. Labor Department’s Office of Labor-Management Standards. Sentencing is set for March 4.
According to prosecutors, Holmes, now 65, a resident of Clinton, Md., during May 2015-June 2018 embezzled local funds by writing checks to herself, … Read More ➡
The fall of Dennis Williams seemed as inevitable as it was anticlimactic. Yesterday, August 27, Williams, who was president of the United Auto Workers during 2014-18, was charged in Detroit federal court with conspiracy to embezzle funds from the 400,000-member union for his own use, including $56,000 for housing and luxury travel. His immediate successor, Gary Jones, had pleaded guilty in June to embezzlement, racketeering and tax fraud related to his diversion of over $1 million in UAW funds. As Williams allegedly conspired with Jones in some of these thefts, he will have a hard time convincing a jury of his innocence. More than a dozen union officials and auto executives thus far have pleaded guilty as part of an ongoing probe of the union by the FBI, the IRS and the Labor Department’s Office of Labor-Management Standards and Office of Inspector General.
The Gary Jones era at the United Auto Workers was brief. But if Jones wants a brief prison sentence, he’ll be at the mercy of prosecutors. Two days ago, June 3, Jones, UAW president until last November, pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan to embezzlement, racketeering and tax fraud related to his role in the diversion of between $1 million and $1.5 million in union funds toward personal luxuries such as vacations, golf outings and cigars, and their coverup. He is set for sentencing on October 6. Thus far, more than a dozen union and auto industry officials have been convicted following an ongoing probe by the FBI, the IRS and the Labor Department’s Office of Labor-Management Standards and Office of Inspector General. A federal takeover of the 400,000-member UAW remains a possibility.
Union Corruption Update has been following this phase of the probe … Read More ➡
Transport Workers Union Local 208 is now in receivership. There are good reasons for that. For the last half-year, the Columbus, Ohio union has been investigated by the FBI and local police in the wake of an internal audit revealing the loss of nearly $350,000 from its coffers over a half-decade. The likely culprit, an unnamed female who had been secretary-treasurer, has resigned. Local 208 represents about 860 bus drivers and other employees of the Central Ohio Transit Authority (COTA). “There is no place in the TWU for officials who abuse their power and the trust of membership,” said International Union President John Samuelsen last November after news of the thefts broke. As of late May, no criminal charges have been filed.
The identity of the person who apparently ripped off TWU Local 208 has not been made public. But one thing is certain: Nearly $350,000 is gone. Last fall, … Read More ➡
If a government takeover of the United Auto Workers looked like a possibility a few days ago, that possibility just became more real. Yesterday, March 5, Gary Jones (in photo), former president of the United Auto Workers, was charged in an information in Detroit federal court for his role in the embezzlement of well over $1 million in funds from the union, enabling himself and other union leaders to splurge on indulgences unrelated to UAW business. Forced from his post in November, Jones is the biggest catch yet in a union-auto industry probe that so far has netted over a dozen guilty pleas. As this is an information, not an indictment, a plea deal is virtually certain. The actions follow a probe 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 has covered this case since it … Read More ➡
The Romeros no longer are a family that stays together let alone steals together. On February 12, John S. Romero, former president of United Industrial and Service Workers of America (UISWA), was convicted by a jury in Los Angeles federal court of 14 felony charges related to the theft of nearly $800,000 from the health care plan of the Colton (San Bernardino County), Calif.-based union. His wife, son and daughter already have testified for the prosecution after pleading guilty to various charges. The four were arrested and indicted five years ago following an investigation by the Labor Department’s Office of Labor-Management Standards, Office of Inspector General and Employee Benefits Security Administration. Sentencing for the elder John Romero is set for April 27. He faces up to 130 years in prison.
If government benefits were available, Nathan Lum made sure that he was going to receive some of them, legally or not. But the only thing that he’s received now is a sentence. On January 29, Lum, former Longshore Division director of International Longshore and Warehouse Union Local 142, was sentenced in U.S. District Court for the District of Hawaii to 30 months in prison for tax fraud and identity theft totaling more than $300,000 over several years. The identity theft involved his cashing of Social Security checks owed to his deceased father. Lum had pleaded guilty last March after an initial indictment in July 2018 and another one that September. He also will have to pay full restitution, plus a $125 special assessment. The actions follow a probe by the FBI, the IRS and the Labor Department’s Office of Labor-Management Standards.
Nathan Y.G. Lum, now 62, a resident of Honolulu, … Read More ➡
The outcome couldn’t have been more inevitable for Vance Pearson. And it couldn’t have been less welcome for the people ranking above him. Last Friday, February 7, Pearson, former regional director for the United Auto Workers and a member of the union’s international board, pleaded guilty in Detroit federal court to conspiracy to embezzle hundreds of thousands of dollars in union funds, enabling him and other UAW officials to live large – or at least larger – for nearly a decade. In so doing, he may have brought prosecutors one step closer to bringing charges against former Auto Workers President Gary Jones and his immediate predecessor, Dennis Williams. The action follows a probe by the FBI, the IRS, and the U.S. Labor Department’s Office of Labor-Management Standards and Office of Inspector General.