NYC Union Bosses Fight to Keep Teacher Twice Accused of Sex Harassment in Classroom

Francisco Olivares was first accused of sexually harassing a 12-yr.-old female student in 1989, but got his conviction for sexual misconduct reversed.  A yr. ago, a 7th-grade girl said Olivares rubbed her arm, looked down her shirt and kissed her on the cheek.  But when NYC school officials moved him to a regional ofc., away from students, the United Fedtn. of Teachers announced that they would challenge the transfer on constitutional grounds.


NYC officials moved Olivares after a hearing officer discounted the girl and another teacher who testified he saw Olivares huddled close to the student.  Instead the officer warned him not to stand so close to students.  In 1989, Olivares was found guilty of pressing his crotch against the 12-yr.-old as he hugged her from behind.  But that conviction was overturned on appeal.


UFT President Randi Weingarten accused NYC Schools Chancelor Joel Klein of playing judge, jury, prosecutor and appellate judge by hauling Olivares out of the classroom. [New York Daily News, 9/25/03]


Houston President Indicted for Stealing from Toys for Tots

A local grand jury indicted Harris County Deputies union president Ed Christensen on Sept. 11 for his role in a telemarketing scheme that supposedly raised $250,000 under the false pretense that it was for Toys for Tots.  Last Nov., the union and the telemarketers, Ron Kowalsky and John Merritt, agreed to pay $150,756 to the charity and $124,000 in attny. fees and penalties.


The union hired Merritts company, Houston Marketing Consulting & Publishing, in 1998, to raise funds through phone calls.  The telemarketers claimed that they were raising funds for the Marine Corps Toys for Tots.  Christensen, an ex-marine who has called Toys for Tots his favorite charity, signed thank-you letters to donors in 1998, 99 and 2000.  But Toys for Tots officials were never informed of the fundraising, and only received $1,700 in bicycles after the TX Attny. Gen. and Harris County prosecutors began investigating the scheme in Nov. 2000.


Christensen is charged with organized criminal activity to commit theft.  His lawyer, Burt Springer, said he was shocked by the indictment, claiming that the payments last year ended a civil suit in which Christensen was supposedly found to be innocent.  In the settlement, the union agreed to pay Toys for Tots without admitting wrongdoing. [Houston Chronicle, 9/13/03]


Witness Jailed After Refusing to Testify in Trial of Mich. Boss

U.S. Dist. Judge Bernard Friedman (E.D. MI, Reagan) jailed Patrick Lindstrom for contempt of court on Sept. 15 after Lindstrom violated his immunity deal and refused to testify against business agents and officials of the Mich. Regional Council of Carpenters. 


Warren city councilman William Barnwell, David and Sandra Williamson, Charles Jackson and Edwin Nyhus are on trial for allegedly embezzling union funds by performing work on the Williamsons home while collecting union salaries and benefits from the Council.  Other witnesses have connected Local 324 of the Intl. Union of Operating Engineers to materials that were purchased for the Williamsons house. [Macomb Daily, 9/16/03]