Virginia Boss Pleads Guilty to $38,000 Embezzlement

Donnie L. Block pled guilty May 14 to embezzling more than $38,000 from the Bakery, Confectionery & Tobacco Workers Int’l Union Local 66 in Portsmouth, Va. He served as the local’s president since 1995 and was indicted for a $38,703 embezzlement on Sept. 20, 2000.

The Dep’t of Labor’s Office of Labor Mgmt. Stnds. found that Block embezzled dues paid through payroll deductions between 1997-98. He wrote and cashed more than 100 checks drawn on the local’s bank account causing it to be overdrawn. Four checks, for almost $1,500, were cashed at a Las Vegas casino. He also wrote two checks to his wife, worth $700. Reportedly, the couple recently separated due to his gambling. U.S. Dist. Judge Rebecca Beach Smith allowed Block to remain free on bond until his Sept. 6 sentencing. He faces up to five years and a $250,000 fine. [Virginian-Pilot (Norfolk) 5/15/01]

Indiana Dues Collector Allegedly Stole $30,000
A federal grand jury in Indianapolis indicted Michelle Spragur Apr. 18 on two counts each of union embezzlement, falsification of union records, and destruction of union records. She she allegedly stole about $30,000 from two United Bhd. of Carpenters locals and used the funds for her personal use. She allegedly falsified union records to cover her thefts and then destroyed certain records when she left. From 1995-98, she was a secretary for the locals and responsible for collecting dues. She faces up to 14 years and a $900,000 fine. The charges follow a Dep’t of Labor’s Office of Labor Mgmt. Stnds. probe. [USAO S.D. Ind., Media Release 4/18/01]

Maine Boss Admits $8,500 Theft
Ray R. Curtis pled guilty on May 10 in U.S. Dist. Court to embezzling  from Laborers’ Int’l Union of N. Am. Local 327 in Augusta, Me. He is the local’s business manager and secretary-treasurer. He allegedly embezzled  $8,548 from 1997-99. A Dep’t of Labor audit determined that he gave himself 109 paychecks over 91 weeks, wrongly receiving $7,704. It also found that he used a union check to buy an $835 snowblower for his personal use. He faces up to five years in prison followed by three years of supervised release. Restitution may also be required. [Portland Press Herald 5/12/01]

Chicago Racketeering Case Begins
Jury selection began May 14 in the corruption trial of the politically connected ex-Laborers boss, John Serpico. He pled not guilty to an 11-count indictment in 1999 accusing him of racketeering, conspiracy, and bank and mail fraud. Serpico and Maria Busillo, both Cent. States Jt. Bd. officials, allegedly used CSJB influence over several unions to engage in an 11-year scam in which deposits were made at financial institutions in return for favorable loans. He also allegedly had  pension funds lend $6.5 million to developers in return for a $334,000 kickback. The trial before U.S. Dist. Judge Blanche Manning is expected to last six weeks [Chi. Trib. 5/14/01]