The ingenuity underlying health care fraud in America is almost boundless. A recent bust of a scam in Southern California is a prime example. In the first week of February, federal agents arrested four persons for fleecing two benefit plans out of a combined $22 million of which $3 million came from an affiliate of the International Longshore and Warehouse Union (ILWU). The defendants – James Nate Bell, Regina Piehl, Michael Edwards and Sara Samhat – had been indicted on January 29 by a Santa Ana federal grand jury for collecting insurance reimbursements based on unnecessary compound cream prescriptions. The actions follow an ongoing probe by the FBI, the IRS, the Defense Department, and the Labor Department’s Office of Inspector General and Employee Benefits Security Administration.
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 ➡
Perhaps more than usual, corruption stories in 2019 involved the overlapping worlds of unions and politics. In Chicago, former Teamster boss John T. Coli Sr., whose ability to cut deals with City Hall and the Illinois legislature for years went virtually unchallenged, pleaded guilty in July to shaking down a television studio owner. One of his allies, State Senator Tom Cullerton, was hit with multiple embezzlement charges. In Boston, two city officials were convicted of putting the squeeze on a concert promoter on behalf of a Theatrical Employees local. In Philadelphia, an Electrical Workers business manager and seven other persons, including a city councilman, were indicted in January for embezzlement, wire fraud and bribery; a contractor and a fundraiser subsequently pleaded guilty.
It wasn’t exactly the classiest behavior. On March 28, Nathan Lum, former director of the Longshore Division of International Longshore and Warehouse Union Local 142, pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court for the District of Hawaii to one count each of aggravated identity theft and income tax evasion. The offenses, unrelated to operations of the Honolulu-based union, had a lot to do with his misuse of his late father’s stream of income. The guilty plea follows a joint investigation by the FBI, the IRS and the U.S. Labor Department’s Office of Labor-Management Standards. Sentencing is scheduled for July.
Court records show that Lum, now 61, a powerful, well-paid boss of the more than 1,000-member Longshore Division of ILWU Local 142 (the entire local has around 18,000 members), cashed Social Security checks made out to his father, who died in June 2013, and diverted the money to his own use. In … Read More ➡
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.
On April 11, Charles Kimo Brown, former secretary-treasurer of International Longshore and Warehouse Union (ILWU) Local 142, Hawaii Longshore Division, was indicted in Honolulu federal court on two counts each of embezzlement totaling $1,575 from the union and concealment of the thefts in union financial records. According to prosecutors, Brown, now 60, a resident of Mililani, during December 2009-April 2014 received “lost time” reimbursements from the local when in fact these were hours during which worked for his regular employer. The union represents about 1,000 Hawaii dockworkers. The indictment follows a probe by the U.S. Labor Department’s Office of Labor-Management Standards.… Read More ➡
For a union office employee, Rosa Della Porta seemed to live beyond her means. The new BMW she drove to work raised her boss’ suspicions, especially as funds seemed to be disappearing. Those suspicions eventually were borne out. Della Porta, former bookkeeper for Local 26 of the International Longshore and Warehouse Union in Los Angeles, was arrested this month for embezzlement of $108,000 in local funds and indicted on August 8 in federal court. “After receiving cash from various sources, Della Porta allegedly deposited less cash than the union received and pocketed the difference,” noted the U.S. Attorney’s Office.
The local began an internal audit after it noticed discrepancies in its books. Local 26 President Luisa Gratz, suspecting Della Porta had been dipping into the till, then notified the U.S. Department of Labor’s Office of Labor-Management Standards, which in turn conducted a full investigation. The DOL determined that Della … Read More ➡