National Boss Ousted after Probe

Kenneth T. Lyons, the president of the Nat’l Ass’n of Gov’t Employees, was removed from office Nov. 5 and permanently barred from participating in union activities after a union hearing on charges that he attempted to obstruct a state ethics probe by falsifying union records. Lyons, who served as NAGE president for 40 years, denied any wrongdoing after being charged in July with altering and destroying union records relating to a dozen or so meals he had with James Hartnett, undersecretary of the Mass. Div. of Admin. & Fin. Lyons was also accused of trying to “involve other union officers in a scheme to thwart an investigation of Hartnett and of attempting to mislead state investigators.”

The Serv. Employees Int’l Union in Washington, D.C., NAGE’s parent, confirmed that following an Oct. hearing in Boston before hearing officer Ray Marshall, an ex-U.S. Labor Sec’y, SEIU found that Lyons was trying to protect Hartnett, a longtime friend and the state’s chief labor negotiator. SEIU also found that Lyons began altering his expense accounts after the state Ethics Comm’n began investigating his relationship with Hartnett. Under Mass. ethics laws, public employees are barred from accepting or soliciting gifts (or meals) valued at $50 or more from business associates. Lyons allegedly spent several hundred dollars on a dinner at the Ritz-Carlton hotel for Hartnett and his wife.

In a separate hearing this summer, SEIU placed NAGE in emergency trusteeship for financial irregularities and ordered that the trusteeship continue. NAGE represents state and other public workers in Mass. and several other states, including Cal., Conn., N.H., R.I., and Va.

Known for his outspoken comments, Lyons this summer was at the center of another controversy when the Int’l Bhd. of Police Officers broke ties with NAGE. The break came after Lyons made a remark on Boston TV station that was widely viewed as anti-Semitic. Lyons has had longstanding feuds with labor groups because of his support of conservative candidates who are at odds with the hard-left union movement.  In 1990, he sued the Boston Globe and the Boston Herald after reports linking him to a disruption at the Democratic State Convention. [Bos. Globe 11/7/01]

New York Boss Admits to Wire Fraud
An ex-police union official has quietly pled guilty to fraud stemming from a sweeping case of mob stock ripoffs that reportedly netted more than 100 suspects. Stephen E. Gardell, ex-treasurer of the NYPD’s Detectives Endowment Ass’n, had originally been charged with a host of crimes, but admitted just one count of wire fraud in a “hush-hush” hearing Nov. 5. Federal prosecutors in Manhattan had first charged Gardell with conspiring to move pension investments into a crooked mob-backed financial firm in exchange for a big payoff. The pension money was reportedly never touched. Gardell was also accused of leaking information about mafia investigations to his crooked associates, and was allegedly paid off with a swimming pool for his home and gambling junkets to Atlantic City and Las Vegas. But authorities reportedly dropped the charges when Gardell pled on the wire fraud charged. [N.Y. Post 11/7/01]