Michigan Boss Sentenced to Year for Embezzling $70,000

Cynthia M. Szymanski, ex-boss of Am. Fed’n of State, County & Employees Local 2949 in Clinton Twp., Mich., was sentenced Sep. 8 by U.S. Dist. Judge Bernard Friedman to 12 months imprisonment for embezzlement of union funds.  According to Asst. U.S. Atty. Barbara McQuade, in 1985, employees of the Clinton View Care Nursing Home (now Lakepoint Villa) joined AFSCME and were chartered under Local 2949. Szymanski was elected as the sole office holder — President and Secretary-Treasurer — and held the positions until Sep. 1998. A Dep’t of Labor probe revealed that Szymanski diverted funds for personal use. Friedman ordered Szymanski to pay $70,672.12 in restitution.

Local 2949 hasn’t existed since 1994. AFSCME terminated its charter after Szymanski stopped sending in union dues. Yet she collected dues from 1994 to 1998. During that period, misled workers didn’t have union cards, didn’t vote for officers, didn’t get newsletters, etc., but every year the corrupt boss took $169 from their paychecks. [USAO Media Release 9/8/99; Detroit News 4/28/99]

PRB Responds to NLPC Request for Boss Wilhelm Probe
On Sep. 23, the Nat’l Legal & Policy Ctr., a union corruption watchdog group, received a response letter from the Pubic Review Board of the Hotel Employees & Restaurant Employees Int’l Union indicating that it will probe the apparent lack of integrity in HERE President John W. Wilhelm and other officials’ implementation of anti-corruption reforms. “It appears to be good news for members and bad news for corrupt bosses,” said NLPC Chairman Ken Boehm.  “I am pleased that the Public Review Board is moving forward on NLPC’s findings of possible wrongdoing within HERE.” PRB’s response letter to NLPC, dated Sep. 20, was from Kenneth P. Purcell who is PRB’s counsel. Purcell’s letter can be viewed at www.nlpc.org.

On August 30, NLPC filed a six-page complaint addressed to HERE’s former court-appointed Monitor Kurt W. Muellenberg, who is also a member of PRB.  Muellenberg’s final report last year included reform recommendations to help reduce corruption within HERE. NLPC’s complaint detailed three sources of concern: 1) Wilhelm’s refusal to close HERE’s Midwestern Regional Office, 2) HERE Secretary-Treasurer Ted T. Hansen’s role in the reform process and 3) HERE General Counsel Robert J. Rotatori’s role in the reform process. “HERE has long been a union troubled by corruption… Practices and individuals with links to the ‘old  guard’ should at the very minimum be investigated by PRB…” said NLPC.

HERE Headquarters Named for Corrupt Ex-Boss
Sending a clear message to members that corruption does pay, HERE’s headquarters is housed in the Edward T. Hanley Building. Hanley, HERE’s disgraced ex-boss, was forced to resign in 1998 amid corruption charges and only avoided prosecution by cutting two controversial immunities deals with DOJ.  The posh, brick building is located at 1219 28th St., N.W., Washington, D.C.; check it out on the web at www.hereunion.org.