Responding to a report by the Independent Rev. Bd. (IRB), Intl. Bhd. of Teamsters president James P. Hoffa took control of Houston Local 988 on Oct. 20, imposing a temporary trustee in place of two local officers accused of embezzlement and kickbacks. The IRB was founded in 1989 to help settle a racketeering suit by the government charging that IBT were controlled by organized crime.
According to the IRB report, Local 988 president Chuck Crawley is accused of soliciting a $20,000 kickback from a contractor installing a new telephone system for the union. Reportedly, Crawley also inflated invoices for products and services, then kept the excess cash and, in one case, two mobile barbecue pits. Another union employee, Marie Espinosa, is also accused of diverting cash from inflated invoices, and charging inflated rates to the union for services provided by her cleaning company, for whom the union was its only customer. When allegations of fraud first surfaced, secy.-treasurer Dennis Bankhead staged a “sham” investigation, and helped the union pay her legal bill when she testified before a federal grand jury investigating the union.
The IBT will hold a hearing to determine whether to remove Crawley and Bankhead permanently. The IRB also has the option of holding its own hearing. In the meantime, W.C. “Willie” Smith, president and bus. mgr. of IBT Local 891 in Jackson, Miss., will run 988 as temporary trustee. [Houston Chronicle, 10/21/03]
Boston Chief Cashman Sentenced
George Cashman, frmr. head of Local 25 of the Intl. Bhd. of Teamsters, was sentenced to 2 yrs., 10 mos. in prison. U.S. Dist. Judge Douglas Woodlock (Mass., Reagan) also ordered Cashman to pay a $30,000 fine. Cashman pled guilty on April 28 to pension fraud and extortion.
Cashman and trucking company owner Thomas Disilva were originally indicted on Jan. 16, 2002, for allegedly arranging the placement of 19 non-employees on the payroll of Disilva’s companies, thus robbing Local 25’s Health Services and Insurance Plan of $72,000 from 1992-2001. More recently, the two were indicted on March 13 for extorting payments to Disilva after Cardinal Health Inc. refused to pay $100,000 to Disilva in exchange for Cashman settling a suit over Cardinal’s obligation to the Local 25 pension fund. Cashman admitted to receiving $20,000 in the extortion case. [U.S.A.O., D. Mass., 10/17/03]
3 more from NJ Local 1588 Going to Prison
Joseph Pellecia, William Hurley and Thomas Rackley were sentenced on Oct. 14 for their role in a salary-diversion scheme that ripped off more than $750,000 from Local 1588 of the Intl. Longshoremen Assn. from 1992-99. U.S. Dist. Judge Mary L. Cooper (NJ, G.H.W. Bush) sentenced Pelleccia to 2 yrs. in jail and $82,500 in restitution, Hurley to 18 mos. in prison and $45,000 in restitution, and Rackley to 13 mos. in prison and $39,750 in restitution.
The three were convicted on Dec. 17, 2001, for diverting half of their union salaries to Joseph Lore, who was supposed to have nothing to do with the union because of his Mafia ties under a 1992 consent decree agreed to by the U.S. Attny. for Sou. NY. Lore and his girlfriend, Denise Bohn, have already been sentenced for receiving the diverted cash. Still awaiting sentencing are frmr. union presidents John Angelone and Eugene G’Sell, both of whom cooperated in the investigation and testified against the others at trial. [Jersey Journal, 10/17/03]
Indiana Woman Charged with Falsification
On October 17, 2003, in the United States District Court for the Northern District of Indiana, an information was filed against Sandra Briggs, former Treasurer of Letter Carriers Branch 378, charging her with one count of false recordkeeping. The charge follows an investigation by the Chicago branch of the U.S. Ofc. of Labor Mgmt. Standards. [OLMS, 10/23/03]
Ex- Fin. Secy. Charged with Embezzlement in MD Federal Court
On October 16, 2003, in the United States District Court for the District of Maryland, an indictment was filed against Joseph Danik, former financial secretary of the United Electrical, Radio and Machine Workers of America (UE) Local 121 charging him with one count of embezzling $6,194.86 in union funds and one count of aiding and abetting. The indictment follows an investigation by the Washington branch of the U.S. Ofc. of Labor Mgmt. Standards. [OLMS, 10/23/03]
Guilty Pleas Continue in D.C. Case
On October 15, 2003, in the United States District Court for the District of Columbia, Errol Alderman, a District of Columbia government employee, pled guilty to one count of conspiracy to launder money from the Washington Teachers’ Union. Alderman and Michael Martin (who pled guilty to money laundering on April 11, 2003) laundered more than $480,000 through a shell corporation called Expressions Unlimited. Alderman admitted to receiving more than $47,000 in union checks, which he returned to Martin to be given to former union president, Barbara Bullock (who pled guilty to conspiracy and mail fraud on October 7, 2003), and a union employee. The guilty plea is part of an ongoing investigation of the Washington Teachers Union by the Washington branch of the U.S. Ofc. of Labor Mgmt. Standards, the FBI, the IRS and the United States Attorney’s Office. [OLMS, 10/23/03]
Ex-Treasurer Charged in NY State Court
On October 14, 2003, in the District Court for Chenango County (New York), an indictment was filed against Patricia Fletcher, former treasurer of Machinists, Local Lodge 1278 charging her with third degree grand larceny. The charge alleged that Fletcher made unauthorized withdrawals from the union’s bank accounts in the amount of $3,300 between November 2001 and July 2002. The charge follows an investigation by the Buffalo branch of the U.S. Ofc. of Labor Mgmt. Standards. [OLMS, 10/23/03]
Labor Dept. Seeks New Elections in Puerto Rico
On September 26, 2003, the Department filed suit in the United States District Court for the District of Puerto Rico against Sindicato de Equipo Pesado, a local union in Puerto Rico representing approximately 750 members. The lawsuit, which seeks a new election for the office of president, claims that the local failed to hold its regularly scheduled election. The office of president is the only office for which there was more than one nomination made at the nomination meeting. The Department disputes the local’s attempt to challenge the membership status of the individual nominated to run against the incumbent president. The lawsuit resulted from an investigation by the Guaynabo Resident Investigator Office.
Labor Dept. Sues for New UFCW Elections
On September 5, 2003, a complaint was filed in the United States District Court for the Western District of Wisconsin against United Food and Commercial Workers Local 538 in Madison, Wisconsin. The complaint seeks to set aside the local’s January 23-24, 2003, election for all contested officer positions. The complaint claims inadequate election notice in that the notice did not conspicuously appear on the front page of the newspaper; nor did the front page refer to a page within the newspaper where the notice could be found. The newspaper containing the notice was not the local’s newspaper. Rather, the notice appeared in a newspaper of a federation of labor unions. The complaint seeks a new election under the supervision of Secretary of Labor. The lawsuit resulted from an investigation by the OLMS Milwaukee District Office.
Labor Dept. Seeks New Nominations and Elections
On August 29, 2003, a complaint was filed in the United States District Court for the Northern District of Georgia, Atlanta Division, against Graphic Communications Local Union 527-S. The complaint claims that the local union denied members the right to vote secret ballots, failed to provide sufficient notice of nominations, and failed to mail election notices to the membership. The complaint seeks to hold new nominations and a new election for all officer positions under OLMS supervision. The complaint resulted from an investigation by the OLMS Atlanta District Office into the local’s election of officers which concluded on December 8, 2002.