Illinois Firefighter Suspected of Union Embezzlement

An ex-firefighter member of two Aurora, Ill., firefighters’ organizations is suspected of embezzling nearly $156,000 from the groups. No charges have been filed in the case, but the matter was discussed Jan. 23 at the Firefighters Pension Fund board of trustees meeting by attorney Wade Joyner on behalf of the Aurora Firefighters Relief Ass’n.

Allegedly, the unnamed individual embezzled $92,000 from Aurora Firefighters Local 99 between 1992-2001. Further, the individual allegedly embezzled $63,933 the Relief Ass’n between 1995-99. Audits of the Relief Ass’n triggered the probe. Local 99’s attorney, J. Dale Berry, declined to say how the embezzlement is alleged to have happened. [Chi. Trib. 01/24/01]

Judge Continues Philly Trusteeship
U.S. Dist. Judge Louis C. Bechtel in Philadelphia issued a preliminary injunction Jan. 16 enforcing the Transport Workers Union’s trusteeship over TWU Local 234. Denying Local 234’s motion seeking a preliminary injunction that would prevent enforcement of the trusteeship, Bechtel found that TWU was likely to experience irreparable harm and was reasonably likely to succeed on the merits of a case over the legality of the trusteeship. Bechtel also held that remedying the financial malpractice and subversion of union democracy committed by Local 234’s executive board warranted establishing a trusteeship.

“It is undisputed that both correcting financial malpractice and restoring democratic procedures are valid purposes for the establishment of a trusteeship under [the Landrum-Griffin Act],” Bechtel wrote.

In June 2000, TWU sent a fact-finding team to investigate reports of misconduct by Local 234’s executive board. On Aug. 25, TWU president Sonny Hall filed a Notice of Trusteeship against Local 234’s executive board. It contained 24 charges alleging financial malpractice, subversion of union democracy, and discord among the members of the board. TWU appointed a subcommittee of the Int’l Executive Council to hear the charges against Local 234. After 18 days of hearings, the subcommittee issued charges including: failing to timely establish a pension plan for clerical employees; pressuring two elected officers into resigning their positions; threatening 12 officers with removal for engaging in free speech; and routinely reimbursing officers and staff without requiring written documentation of expenditures.

On Nov. 30, IEC unanimously adopted the subcommittee’s report and imposed an immediate trusteeship. Harry Lombardo, a TWU int’l vice president and a past president of Local 234, went to Local 234’s offices to carry out his duties as the appointed trustee. The local refused to let Lombardo carry out his duties under the trusteeship order, informing him that it only would comply if he secured a court order. The same day, TWU filed a request for a temporary restraining order and a preliminary injunction to enforce the trusteeship. Local 234 filed a complaint, claiming that the trusteeship violated Landrum-Griffin. On Dec. 4, U.S. Dist. Judge Bruce W. Kauffman denied the request for a temporary restraining order.  [BNA 01/31/01]