New DC 37 Local President Sues Ex-Boss for more than $1.5 Million

Carmen Charles, the new president of a NYC local union in the scandal-tarred Dist. Council 37, sued the ex-president for squandering nearly $2 million of union funds for 30 years. 

Last spring, James Butler lost an election for president of Local 420 of the Amer. Fedtn. of State, County & Municipal Employees to Charles.  With Butler’s exit, an audit by KPMG of the Local’s finances from 1995-98 finally was released.  The accountants found that Butler had spent nearly $2 million for a new headquarters that remains a dilapidated shell, and charged tens of thousands of dollars worth of his and his wife’s travel expenses to the union without documentation.

In the lawsuit filed in the New York Supreme Court in Manhattan, Charles also accused Butler and the Local’s executive board of spending $14,600 for alcohol at union meetings, held in hospitals where alcohol is not permitted.  In addition to the KPMG findings, Charles accused Butler and four board members of taking $767,300 in pay hikes and expense stipends without the members’ required approval from 1997-2002.  In the same period, Butler took $77,860 in “vacation benefits” paid in cash, according to the suit.

In the suit, Charles is seeking $1,602,858 in restitution to the members of Local 420. [Newsday 4/9/03]