Ex-Indiana Dem. Party Chief Indicted for Misuse of Pension Funds

On Sept. 8, U.S. Attny. Joseph S. Van Bokkelen announced a 16-count indictment against Peter J. Manous, Kevin T. Pastrick, and Gerry L. Nannenga.  The charges in the indictment relate to the purchase of land in Coffee Creek, a residential and commercial development located in Chesterton, Indiana.  Manous was forced to resign as Chairman of the Democratic Party in Indiana when the investigation was publicly reported last Feb.

In March, 1999, the N.W. Indiana Carpenters Union pension fund purchased 55 acres in Coffee Creek for approximately $10 million dollars.  This action was taken, the indictment alleges, notwithstanding a report indicating that the real estate was worth far less than the purchase price, and the lack of residential and commercial development since the purchase.  Under federal law, Nannenga, as a trustee of the pension fund, could not solicit or receive any money in connection with this transaction.  Manous, as the union’s lawyer, could not solicit or receive any money in connection with this transaction. Pastrick, the owner of the Coffee Creek land, is barred from paying any money to influence the allocation of pension funds. 

Pastrick’s company, Sand Creek Sales and Development received a $600,000 commission from this sale. Pastrick paid $200,000 to Manous out of that commission.  Pastrick and Manous then paid Nannenga, through his wife, about $65,000.  The indictment alleges that the three fabricated documents to make it appear that the company that ostensibly paid Nannenga’s wife, Olympic Services, was an actual business producing legitimate work when it was merely an account utilized to transfer funds from Pastrick and Manous to Nannenga.

All three defendants are charged with conspiring to violate Title 18, United States Code, Section 1954. Section 1954 prohibits the offer, acceptance or solicitation of payments in connection with union pension funds.  The indictment was the result of an extensive investigation by the U.S. Department of Labor, Office of Inspector General and Office of Employee Benefits Security Administration, and the U.S. Secret Service.

“This indictment is yet another example of illegal profiteering by individuals at the expense of union members and the funds they have set aside for their pension or retirement plans,” stated J.D. Nichols, Special Agent in Charge, U.S. Department of Labor Office of Inspector General, Office of Labor Racketeering and Fraud Investigations.

“Theft of plan assets jeopardizes the benefits of American workers and their families,” said Kenneth M. Bazar, Director of the Chicago Regional Office of the Employee Benefits Security Administration (EBSA). “Federal enforcement agencies worked closely to bring criminal charges against these defendants, who abused their positions of trust.” [U.S.A.O. N. Dist. IN, 9/8/03]

Fla. Official Charges President with Threatening Him
Dennis Brown, vice-president of the Natl. Fedtn. of Pub. & Priv. Employees, has reported that indicted president Walter Browne threatened him physically in a phone call.  Browne is free on $150,000 bond and awaiting trial for racketeering charges.  He and his sister, Patricia Devaney, are accused of soliciting bribes from marine-based companies, and stealing more than $400,000 from the union, a.k.a. the Marine Engrs. Beneficial Assn. Dist. 1.  Brown was subpoenaed by fed. prosecutors to testify about the alleged threats on Sept. 22, after he reported the phone call to the Plantation, Fla., Police Dept. [Ft. Lauderdale Sun-Sentinel, 9/6/03]