Ruben L. Gomez, business manager for the Laborers’ Int’l Union of N. Am. Local 652 in Santa Ana, Cal. was ousted Apr. 13 for using union funds for personal trips to San Fran. and Las Vegas. He was banned from office for five years and ordered to repay an undetermined amount for the cost of two 1997 trips.
LIUNA’s failed “internal reform effort” led by the ethically-challenged Robert D. Luskin took the action after allegations emerged in 1998. But, there was no criminal prosecution against Gomez, no fines, no jail time. This is another illustration of why the “internal reform effort” needs to be replaced by a full-scale Dep’t of Justice takeover.
Gomez, who ran Local 652 for six years, appealed the ruling calling it “arbitrary and draconian.” But LIUNA “internal appellate judge” W. Neil Eggleston upheld the punishment. Eggleston has represented both Bill Clinton and Dep’t of Labor head Alexis Herman in scandal-related litigation.
According to LIUNA, Gomez contrived with other union officials to send bogus invitations to himself, requesting his attendance at fictitious union meetings. Gomez then used the invitations to receive reimbursement. Mario Hernandez, a Local 652 organizer, was also barred for five years for helping Gomez obtain official stationery belonging to another union and preparing one of the fake invitations. [L.A. Times 4/14/00]
Florida Boss Embezzled $40,000
U.S. Dist. Judge Daniel T.K. Hurley sentenced Am. Fed’n of Gov’t Employees Local 507’s ex-president Diana M. Morgan Mar. 31 to a year and a day in prison for embezzling union funds. Morgan must also pay $42,300 in restitution to the Riviera Beach, Fla.-based local and serve three years supervised release. She pled guilty in Aug. 1999 to a mail-fraud charge; from 1996 to 1999, the boss used her position to embezzle union funds to pay for rent, a personal loan, her car payments, and $610 worth of tickets to Disney World. She also wrote checks from the union accounts to herself for $28,400 and to her teenage daughter for $2,780. U.S. Atty. Bruce Reinhart said he chose the mail fraud charge because a suitable federal embezzlement charge didn’t exist. [USAO S.D. Fla., Media Release 3/31/00]