New Info on Guilty Boss; Lied for Daughter; Auditor Linked

As previously reported, Raymond J. Robertson, ex-general vice president of the Int’l Ass’n of Iron Workers and ex-trustee/director of a benefit fund linked to the union, pled guilty Apr. 11 to eight felony counts linked to a series of thefts from the Nat’l Ironworkers & Employers Apprenticeship Training & Journeyman Upgrading Fund. Specifically, he confessed to one count of conspiracy to defraud a benefit plan, one count of aiding and abetting embezzlement from an entity receiving federal funds, and six counts of embezzlement. He agreed to pay a $30,000 fine and $103,170 in restitution. Through several different types of schemes, Robertson stole or helped cover up thefts of more than $100,000 from the Fund from Apr. 1998 to Apr. 2001.

In Jan. 1999, accountants from the firm of Thomas Havey LLP audited the Fund. At that time, co-conspirator Kerry J. Tresselt, Robertson’s daughter, worked as the bookkeeper for the Fund. After receiving a tip from a staffer, an auditor found that payroll checks had been issued to Tresselt’s husband even though he had not been working for the Fund.  The Thomas Havey partner in charge of the audit allegedly informed Robertson that Tresselt was having bogus payroll checks, which even included overtime, issued in the name of Andrew Tresselt. Reportedly, Tresselt stole some $33,000 via this scheme.

Despite learning in Jan. 1999 that Tresselt had stolen the money, Robertson and the partner allegedly failed to disclose the thefts to other Fund trustees. Also, in Feb. 1999, Robertson and the partner allegedly told the other trustees that the Funds’ accounts of the Fund were in good order. Further, until May 2001, Robertson and the Thomas Havey firm allegedly continued to conceal Tresselt’s thefts and assure the trustees that the Fund’s operations and controls were in excellent order.

In other scheme, Robertson aided and abetted the theft of more than $74,000 that the Fund received in connection with a federal grant from the Dep’t of Labor to train workers in Poland. He aided this theft by approving false and fraudulent claims for work submitted by Tresselt and another Fund employee which they did not perform. Finally, Robertson stole some $27,000 by using the Fund’s money to pay for personal meals and items for himself and others, including a $1,480 flagpole for the personal residence of Jacob “Jake” West, the ex-IAIW president, in rural southwest Va.

In stealing money from the Fund, Robertson deprived union iron workers of additional training opportunities and, indirectly, stole money from them. The Fund obtains most of its resources through contributions from contractors. Those contributions are based on collective bargaining agreements between iron workers and their employers under which the employers agree to submit an amount of money per hour worked by iron workers. Thus, those contributions reflect dollars earned by the hard work of union iron workers.

Robertson is the seventh union boss or employee to be charged in the federal probe of IAIW. His daughter pled guilty to embezzling $350,000 from the Fund on Nov. 8. There has been no report that Tresselt’s husband or anyone at the Thomas Havey firm has been charged in the case. West, is awaiting trial on charges related to a $50,000 union embezzlement and has been linked to the Ullico, Inc. insider trading scandal. [USAO D.D.C. 4/11/02]