Further Details Emerge on MI Laborers Official’s Embezzlement

U.S. Attny Jeffrey G. Collins announced further details on the case of convicted embezzler Edward Wiebeck, who was sentenced by Fed. judge Denise Page Hood (U.S.D.C. E.D. MI, Clinton) to a split sentence of 6 months in fed. prison, followed by 6 months of home confinement, three years of supervised release and $32,790.82 in restitution.

Mr. Collins stated that the evidence against Mr. Wiebeck showed that in 1970, Mr. Wiebeck became a member of Laborers Local 503, in Jackson, MI, which was part of the Laborer’s International Union of North America. Between 1970 and 1976, he became a member of the Executive Board. In 1976, he was appointed to complete the unexpired term of the outgoing Business Manager. He was elected to the position every three years thereafter until he retired on March 1, 1998.

As the Union’s Business Manager, Mr. Wiebeck’s primary role consisted of collecting dues and initiation fees and enforcing various contracts. Mr. Wiebeck was also one of three signatories on the Union’s checking account. Between January 5, 1996 and March 6, 1998, there were 125 pay periods. However, Mr. Wiebeck received 161 checks, 37 more than authorized, totaling $30,250.09. Mr. Wiebeck admitted to investigators that he began taking salary advances when he learned that the Union was experiencing cash dues shortages. He used the advances to cover the shortages, and for his own gambling and personal bills.

As Business Manager Mr. Wiebeck also had access to the Union’s credit card which was established for official Union expenses. However, between May, 1996, and February, 1998, Mr. Wiebeck used the Union’s credit card for $3,072.63 to cover his own gambling and personal expenses. Mr. Wiebeck has already paid back $531.90 to the Union.

Prior to imposing sentence, Judge Hood noted that the defendant had abused his position of trust within the Union. [U.S.A.O. E. D. MI 10/11/02]

Iowa Man Conspired with Two Des Moines Bosses to Embezzle
On Nov. 13, 2002, in the U.S. Dist. Ct. for the Sou. Dist. of Iowa, Norval Craig Michael, a member of Laborers Local 177, entered a guilty plea to an information charging him with conspiracy to embezzle. As detailed in the information, Michael joined with Bus. Mgr. Fred Risius and Vice-Pres. Henry Jannenga in an embezzlement scheme wherein $16,900 in union checks payable to him were cashed and the proceeds split among the parties.

In Nov. 1999, Risius asked Jannenga to find someone willing to cash a Local 177 check in exchange for portion of the cash. Jannanga approached Michael, who agreed, but insisted that the check be made out for less than $10,000. On Nov. 27, Risius signed a check to Michael for $9,000. Three days later, Risius signed another check for $7,500. Risius told the Local 177 president that the checks were for materials Michael had supposedly sold to the union’s apprenticeship program. Michael cashed the two checks and plit the cash between himself, Risius and Jannenga. These charges are the result of an investigation by the St. Louis branch of the U.S. Ofc. of Labor-Mgmt. Standards. [DOL OLMS 11/20/02]

Ala. State Official Sentenced for Theft, Falsification
On Oct. 22, in the U.S. Dist. Ct. for the Northern Dist. of Ala., Patricia Smith, former ofc. secy. of the Ala. District Council of the Laborers Intl Union of N. Amer., was sentenced to six months home confinement followed by five years of supervised probation. She was ordered to pay $17,454 in restitution (prior to sentencing she had made restitution totaling $4,232.34). On July 10, Smith pled guilty to one count of embezzling $21,687 in union funds and one count of falsification of union records following an investigation by the Nashville branch of the U.S. Ofc. of Labor-Mgmt. Standards. [DOL OLMS 11/13/02]