Las Vegas Local’s Audit Says $165,000 Misused

Several officers in the Las Vegas local of the Am. Postal Workers Union are being asked to substantiate union expenditures totaling over $165,000. A preliminary audit by a Chicago auditing firm outlines numerous discrepancies in the financial records of Local 761, including questionable credit card charges by union officials for “what appears to be for personal purposes.” The local’s vice-president and treasurer have resigned since a union member, Robert Trentino, sought the audit earlier this year. The apparent unwillingness of bosses to cooperate in the investigation has frustrated both the outside auditor and a Las Vegas labor attorney who withdrew his representation of the local over the issue.

“Based on our preliminary examination of the documents of the union, we believe sufficient predication exists to conduct a thorough fraud examination of the union records,” Craig Greene, of Rome Associates LLP of Chicago, wrote in an Aug. 12 report to union members. In addition to the credit card charges, the report found: 1) large checks written in whole amounts to union officials, 2) a substantial number of missing documents, 3) entries in disbursement account records that differ from the actual written check amounts and 4) large and unreasonable account variances from one year to the next. These findings are based on about half of the documents requested. The remainder of the documents, including bank statements, check stubs, credit card statements and required federal reports, were either missing or incomplete.

Before the audit began on Aug. 10, vice-president Kaleen Williams, who according to the auditors’ findings, had $42,820 in questionable charges, resigned. Treasurer Deborah Partida was found to have over $103,000 and was striped Sep. 11 of her financial responsibilities. President Billy Harrell, boss since 1979, said he will provide evidence that he repaid his $9,100 in questionable charges.

David Barnes, an investigator with the Dep’t of Labor in San Francisco, would neither confirm nor deny that his agency is working on this case. “We have heard from members in the union,” Barnes said. “They’re coming up on election of officers, so we don’t want to influence those. There are a lot of political ramifications to this.” Nominations for Local 761 are in Oct., and election in Nov. [Las Vegas Rev.-J. 9/18/99]