Florida Racketeering & Extortion Trials Begins

The federal racketeering and extortion trial of three bosses of the Int’l Union of Operating Engineers Local 675 in southern Florida began Feb. 17. Ex-business manager, vice president and president of the local, Joseph R. Gagne, as well as his associates Dennis J. Walton and Roy Savigliano have allegedly kept control of the local by beating, threatening and shooting at union members and others who refused to support their control. [Palm Beach Post 2/18/99]

Hawaiian Teamsters Indicted for Arson
Two prominent members of Teamsters Local 996 in Honolulu were indicted by a federal grand jury Feb. 17 for  arson. Joseph “Joe Boy” P. Tavares, Jr., was charged with conspiracy to commit arson and two counts of arson and faces 25 years in prison. George E. Cambra was charged with conspiracy to commit arson and faces 5 years. Cambra is also the owner of George Cambra Movie Production Trucks, Inc., and the arson resulted from an internal union fight when union rivals referred a Hollywood film crew to Cambra’s competitors: Mokulua Consultants, Inc., and Auto Mastics, Inc. Cambra reportedly agreed to give Tavares 10% of his future earnings if Tavares would set fire to the trucks employed in the hostile referral. On Jun. 10, 1991, Tavares reportedly set fires to the competitor’s trucks causing $241,500 in damage. Cambra later allegedly paid Tavares at least $1,500 for his services. The fires immediately forced Auto Mastics out of business and contributed to Mokulua’s closing in 1997. [Honolulu Advertiser & Honolulu Star-Bulletin 2/18/99]

Massachusetts Boss Embezzled $92,000
William Ciepiela, ex-boss of the United Ass’n of Journeymen of the Plumbing & Pipe Fitting Indus. Local 151 in Pittsfield, Mass., pled guilty Feb. 12 to embezzling from union member pensions. According to the U.S. Atty., Ciepiela transferred over $92,000 from the union’s two ERISA plans to the union’s general fund on a monthly basis from Jul. 1993-Dec. 1994. He then wrote checks to himself from the general fund. He faces ten years in prison and a $500,000 fine. U.S. Atty. Donald K. Stern stated, “It is essential to protect workers’ health plans and retirement plans from abuse by those entrusted with administering them. Workers are entitled to expect that the funds, deposited on their behalf, will be available when needed.” The U.S. Dep’t of Labor uncovered the corruption.

New York’s Boss Hill Quits, Gets $243,000
On Feb. 17, N.Y. union boss Stanley Hill ended his 13 year reign over Am. Fed. of State, County & Municipal Employees’ Dist. Council 37. Hill took a leave of absence in Nov. due in part to a fraud and corruption probe by Manhattan Dist. Atty. Robert M. Morgenthau. Since Dec., DC37 has been under a trusteeship imposed by top AFSCME boss Gerald W. McEntee. McEntee has his own ethics questions tied to the Teamsters-Ron Carey campaign’s money-laundering scandal. Hill will trade in his $252,800 salary for a $107,000 annual pension. But, Hill will take home a $243,500 golden parachute. [N.Y. Times 2/18/99]

California Boss Accused of Embezzling
Ex-boss Roy E. Gardner was charged with embezzling $9,700 from the Int’l Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees & Moving Picture Operators Local 871 in Studio City, Cal. Gardner allegedly embezzled funds by inflating his salary in 1994-96. He also allegedly received unauthorized reimbursements, including $1,874 for a fake business trip to Canada. The charges resulted from a U.S. Dep’t of Labor probe. [City News Service 2/24/99]