Cleanup Continues at Miami Teachers Union

The temp. administrator of the United Teachers of Dade has agreed to sell its huge HQ to help pay off the millions in debt incurred on the union’s behalf by its convicted ex-chief, Pat Tornillo.  Current director Mark Richard announced the sale of the bldg. to Millennium Developers earlier this month.  Meanwhile, a panel of fed. appeals ct. judges upheld a portion of Tornillo’s sentence for embezzlement ordering him to repay the union the $150,000 it spent uncovering his theft of about $2.5 million when he was running the affiliate of the Amer. Fedtn. of Teachers.


Tornillo agreed to repay $650,000 to the union when he pled guilty last Aug.  Prosecutors with the U.S. Attny. for Sou. Fla., said then that the wording of compensation contracts between Tornillo and the UTD made it impossible to stick the embezzlement charge on any more funds taken by Tornillo than what he agreed to repay.  At his sentencing last Dec., U.S. Dist. Judge Aldaberto Jordan (S. Fla., Clinton) added the $150,000 repayment to his sentence, which included 27 mos. in prison.


Tornillo appealed that part of the sentence, claiming that it violated his plea bargain.  But 11th Circ. judges Ed Carnes (G.H.W. Bush), Frank Hull (Clinton), and Peter Fay (Ford), ruled that Tornillo had explicitly given up any right to appeal his sentence, and had agreed that Judge Jordan could impose more restitution than was agreed to with prosecutors.  A racketeering lawsuit by the union is still pending in Fla. state ct.


Tornillo commissioned the construction of the UTD HQ, which opened in 2001.  Construction cost union members about $20 million, and the union still owes $14 million.  The local union also owes millions of dollars in loans to the AFT.  By selling the bldg. Richard said, the UTD will be able to repay most of those loans. [Daytona Beach News-Journal, 6/7/04: Ft. Lauderdale Sun-Sentinel, 5/22/04]


Easy Transition from Convicted Boss in S. Fla.

As required by fed. law, Walter Browne resigned as head of the Fedtn. of Public & Private Employees (FPPE) on June 9, after he was found guilty of embezzlement and racketeering from the union he founded and led for more than a decade.  A fed. jury found that Browne solicited “consulting contracts” from businesses, usually in return for Browne keeping the union away from those businesses.  Browne claimed that his resignation was due to the “distractions” of his conviction and pending appeal.  Taking over on July 1 is the FPPE’s long-time exec. dir., Dan Reynolds, who has been Browne’s partner and close friend since the 1980s.  “Walter and I ran this union together.  Whatever decisions that were made, we made together.  The union will continue in the same way,” he said. [Ft. Lauderdale Sun-Sentinel, 6/10/04]