When it comes to retaliation against those who expose corruption, the United Brotherhood of Carpenters and Joiners has few rivals. Five recently fired staff members of a New Jersey-based affiliate know this first-hand – and are taking action. On December 1, the former employees filed suit in New Jersey State Superior Court in Newark against a regional union benefit fund and its executive secretary, claiming they were ousted from their jobs last March for supporting a union official who had been terminated ostensibly for alerting law enforcement to the theft of about $1.5 million in benefits. Ex-benefits manager George Laufenberg had been indicted in September 2019 on federal fraud charges following a probe by the U.S. Labor Department’s Office of Inspector General and Employee Benefits Security Administration, assisted by the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey.
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.
For George Laufenberg, there seemingly were no limits when it came to his pay. That’s why he’s no longer getting paid. On September 27, Laufenberg, former benefit funds administrator for certain New Jersey and New York affiliates of the United Brotherhood of Carpenters and Joiners, was indicted by a Newark federal grand jury on five counts related to his stealing more than $1.5 million in dues-funded plan assets. Alleged offenses include embezzling from an annuity fund, hiring a friend for a virtual no-show job, and concealing such schemes in a financial report. His attorney insists that his client is innocent. The indictment follows an investigation by the U.S. Labor Department’s Office of Inspector General and Employee Benefits Security Administration, plus the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey.
George Laufenberg, now 69, a resident of Harvey Cedars (Ocean County), N.J., had it pretty good for a while. He managed … Read More ➡
On August 2, Steven Kristopher Perry, former financial secretary-treasurer of United Brotherhood of Carpenters and Joiners Local 2077, was sentenced in U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Ohio to three years of supervised release, including 180 days of home confinement, for embezzling $20,458 in funds from the Columbus union. He also was ordered to pay $26,185 in restitution and a special assessment of $100. Perry had pleaded guilty in January following an investigation by the U.S. Labor Department’s Office of Labor-Management Standards.… Read More ➡
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 ➡
Larry Inman’s vote apparently was for sale. But what does that say about who was paying? On May 15, Inman, a three-term Republican in the Michigan House of Representatives, was indicted in Grand Rapids federal court for attempted extortion, solicitation of a bribe, and lying to the FBI related to his seeking cash payments from a Carpenters union affiliate in exchange for a favorable vote on a prevailing wage bill. He is declaring his innocence, but has an uphill climb. House Speaker Lee Chatfield, also a Republican, wants him to resign. And Mike Jackson, executive secretary for the Michigan Regional Council of Carpenters and Millwrights, is glad Inman “is being brought to justice.” Yet the details are far from completely known. Inman pleaded not guilty at his arraignment on May 28. And the union may have ulterior motives.
On January 3, Steven Kristopher Perry, former financial secretary-treasurer of United Brotherhood of Carpenters and Joiners of America Local 2077, pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Ohio to one count of embezzling $20,458 in funds from the Columbus-based union. He had been charged last October. The actions follow an investigation by the U.S. Labor Department’s Office of Labor-Management Standards.… Read More ➡
On December 17, Robin Ray Bishop, former financial secretary of United Brotherhood of Carpenters and Joiners Local 2501, was indicted in the Jefferson County Circuit Court for the Commonwealth of Kentucky on one count of theft by deception in a sum of over $500, nine counts of criminal possession of a forged instrument, and one count of falsifying business records. The indictment follows an investigation by the U.S. Labor Department’s Office of Labor-Management Standards.… Read More ➡
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 ➡
On October 4, Steven Perry, former financial secretary-treasurer of United Brotherhood of Carpenters and Joiners Local 2077, was charged in U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Ohio with embezzling funds from the Columbus-based union in the amount of $20,458. The charge follows an investigation by the U.S. Labor Department’s Office of Labor-Management Standards.… Read More ➡