North Dakota Boss Embezzled $2,300

Ex-president of Nat’l Fed’n of Fed. Employees Local 225 in Fargo, N.D., Richard LaRue of Shevlin, Minn., was sentenced Jan. 16 to two years probation for embezzling union funds.  He pled guilty to misappropriating $2,300 in union funds between Oct. 1996 and Dec. 1997. U.S. Dist. Judge Rodney Webb in Fargo ordered LaRue to spend four months in home confinement, pay a $500 fine and make restitution. [Bismarck Trib. 01/17/01]

Union Opens Defense Fund for Bosses
As previously reported, James E. Cole, the general secretary of the Int’l Ass’n of Bridge, Structural & Ornamental Iron Workers, was indicted in Dec. 2000 for union embezzlement. Cole is the fourth BSOIW boss to face charges in a FBI probe involving allegations of corruption within the BSOIW hierarchy and D.C. police force. The others have pled guilty and are cooperating. Cole’s indictment has raised speculation that BSOIW president Jake West is the next target in the ongoing federal corruption probe. Investigators began looking at BSOIW’s financial records in 1998 because of allegations of police corruption. Officials are trying to determine if West used union funds to curry favor with ex-D.C. Police Chief Larry D. Soulsby. Neither Soulsby nor West have been charged, but sources say West continues to be investigated. West is running for reelection this Aug.  An opposition slate already has emerged, headed by BSOIW treasurer Joe Hunt of St. Louis.

Now comes word that to help pay legal bills, BSOIW has set up a defense trust fund. The fund’s trustee, Cal. attorney Jack R. Ormes, made a direct plea to other building trades union bosses for financial help, hoping to sway them with a warning that their unions could be next. Individuals can contribute up to $10,000 without being subject to federal gift taxes, a solicitation letter notes. It asks: “Should authorized expenditures by union officials generally, but particularly by a general president, in carrying out their duty to implement the lawful provisions of a union’s constitution…be subject to criminal prosecution?” Other unions have not been quick to open their checkbooks. Reportedly, only $44,000 has been raised. [Engineering News Record 01/15/01]