Michigan Boss Grilled on Campaign Cash

The FBI has stepped-up its probe of corruption in Warren, Mich., with at least two councilmen testifying in Mar. before a federal grand jury. One of the councilmen in question, Bill Barnwell, is also an organizer for the Mich. Reg. Council of Carpenters. Barnwell told the Detroit News that he was asked about a range of subjects from campaign contributions to ticket fixing.  He said he was grilled about union campaign contributions. “They didn’t accuse me of anything. They insinuated,” he said. The probe is looking into allegations of police corruption, bid rigging and campaign-finance abuses in Warren government.  [Det. News 3/26/00]

Rosy Anti-Corruption Picture Painted
The Dep’t of Labor’s Office of Inspector General’s agenda for FY2001 includes probes of financial transactions linked to the loss of pension plan assets, as the agency continues to focus on an area that has resulted in 29 currently ongoing investigations involving $1.5 billion in pension assets, reported Patricia Dalton, DOL’s acting IG, to the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Labor, HHS & Education on Mar. 28.

These transactions involve individuals who provide services to pension and benefit plans. OIG plans to continue its emphasis on investigating union bosses and others who either have ties to organized crime or who “siphon excessive fees and/or commissions from union pension plans,” Dalton told the subcommittee.

In the area of health benefit plans, the agency is targeting fraudulent health insurance schemes operated by what Dalton termed “bogus labor unions.” The groups were allegedly formed for the purpose of selling the fraudulent health insurance and escaping state regulation not to conduct legitimate union services. “The influence and control by traditional and non-traditional organized crime figures in the workplace continues to have an adverse impact on the U.S. economy,” Dalton said.

OIG will continue to probes in the garment, maritime, and construction industries, Dalton said. During FY1999, OIG’s efforts to combat organized crime and labor racketeering involved completion of 54 employee benefit plan cases, involving over $19.4 million and 67 convictions. Twenty-eight cases were completed in the area of labor-management relations, involving $1.5 million in criminal monetary penalties and 35 convictions. [BNA 3/29/00]