For Rick Drain, old habits die hard. And the consequences this time may include a stretch in prison. Last Monday, July 13, Drain, former business manager for Laborers International Union of North America Local 1085, pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court for the Southern District of West Virginia to one count of embezzling $50,281 in funds from the Parkersburg-based union, which represents several hundred area construction and public service workers. He had been charged in March following an investigation by the U.S. Labor Department’s Office of Labor-Management Standards. He faces up to five years in prison at sentencing this October.
According to prosecutors, Drain, now 56, a resident of Vienna (Wood County), W.Va., used his position as local business manager to divert member dues and other fees into his own pockets. He apparently had a history of this sort of thing. Back in 2009, he and the local were named … Read More ➡
Rick Drain might be going down the drain. Some would call that poetic justice. On March 2, Drain, former business manager of Laborers International Union of North America Local 1085, was charged in an information in U.S. District Court for the Southern District of West Virginia with embezzling $50,281 in funds from the Parkersburg-based union, which represents several hundred construction and public service employees. The charge follows an investigation by the U.S. Labor Department’s Office of Labor-Management Standards. There is a story within the story here. For this case has its roots in events of more than a decade ago.
Back in July 2009, an Ohio woman, Debra Ann Pryor, had named LIUNA Local 1085 and Rick Drain as co-defendants in a civil rights suit in Wood County (West Virginia) Circuit Court. Pryor, the local office manager for several years until her dismissal, had claimed she was fired in retaliation … Read More ➡
On October 10, Dennis Robertson, former business manager for Laborers International Union of North America Local 668, was sentenced in U.S. District Court for the District of New Hampshire to three years of probation for embezzling $37,897 in funds from the Hookset union during the period August 2015-February 2017. He also was ordered to pay full restitution. He had pleaded guilty in June following an investigation by the U.S. Labor Department’s Office of Labor-Management Standards.… Read More ➡
Orville and Teri Rae Merritt aren’t married to each other anymore. They’re probably relieved, too. On October 18, Orville Merritt, ex-business manager and treasurer of Laborers International Union of North America Local 1168, pleaded guilty in the 78th District Court of Texas for his role in the theft of nearly $46,000 in funds from the Wichita Falls union, and was sentenced to three years in prison. His sentence reflects his creating a fake Facebook account in his wife’s name in order to defraud her. Teri Rae Merritt, now known as Teri Rae Coan, shouldn’t get much sympathy. On October 30, she was sentenced to 10 years of supervision for theft from the union, where she had been office manager. She had pleaded guilty on October 25 after being charged on October 4. Both must pay restitution. The actions follow a probe by the U.S. Department of Labor.
Laborers Local … Read More ➡
On August 23, Mitchell Sharp, a Phoenix-based former organizer for the Laborers International Union of North America, was charged in U.S. District Court for the District of Arizona with one count of theft from an Indian Health Service local office in Phoenix in an amount of more than $1,000. He then pleaded guilty. Sharp allegedly had made unauthorized use of his union credit card. The charge and plea follow a probe by the U.S. Labor Department’s Office of Labor-Management Standards.… Read More ➡
John Matassa Jr. says he’s being sentenced for his reputation, not his deeds. Evidence points toward the latter. Last Monday, July 22, Matassa, former secretary-treasurer of Independent Union of Amalgamated Workers Local 711, was sentenced in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois to six months in prison plus six months of home confinement for embezzling funds from the Chicago-area union related to putting his wife on the union payroll for a no-show job. He had been indicted in May 2017 on 10 counts of embezzlement, fraud and other offenses, pleading guilty to a reduced embezzlement charge this February. 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.
As Union Corruption Update has reported more than once (for example, here and here), John “Pudgy” Matassa, now in his late-60s, a resident of Arlington … Read More ➡
James C. Gaile was mayor of Niagara Falls, N.Y. in 1998 when hired hands belonging to Laborers Local 91 assaulted non-union workers at two hotel construction sites in the city. But was he privy to a secret agreement to look the other way? Gaile insists neither he nor any other public official gave approval to the goons’ behavior. But one of those indicted goons, Dominick Dellaccio, 60, who at one time was president and business manager of the local, may tell a different tale when he takes the witness stand next January at a federal racketeering trial.
The long reign of intimidation by Local 91 has been well-documented in these pages. But prosecutors think there’s a chance the union had some hidden help from City Hall. Gaile, 63, admits that he, then-Police Superintendent Anthony Fera, and then-City Administrator Anthony Restaino had a meeting with Dellaccio and other local officials … Read More ➡
Another domino has fallen in the strange, violent saga of Laborers Local 91. For years the local dictated the terms of hiring at construction sites in Niagara County, N.Y. Their targets were nonunion workers and any contractor foolish enough to hire them. Their preferred methods of enforcement were vandalism, assault and extortion. In a predawn raid in 2002 federal agents arrested more than a dozen union members. In recent weeks, two of them, Anthony Cerrone and Andrew Shomers, pleaded guilty to racketeering.
Reading the tea leaves, Salvatore Bertino has become the next to go down. The 53-year-old former local vice president pleaded guilty on Tuesday, June 21 to racketeering conspiracy. At his hearing, Bertino cited five incidents in which Local 91 President Mark Congi directed him and others to engage in extortion. Seven other union officials, including Congi, are set to go on trial later this year. (Buffalo… Read More ➡