Two Boston-Area Union Members Indicted for Loan Sharking

On Monday, May 16, the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Boston announced the arrests and four-count indictment of Virgil “Duke” Farese, 72, of Framingham, Mass., and James Armstrong, 39, of Boston.  The two men, alleges the indictment, from February 1997 through December 2000, lent money at usurious rates to fellow members of their union, Tunnel Workers Local 88.  Based on a joint federal-local investigation, Farese and Armstrong indicated to borrowers they would have to get violent in the event of a late payment.  The cost of a loan was steep, carrying a weekly interest rate of 10 percent.  If convicted, the two men face up to 20 years in prison and a $250,000 fine on each of the four loan-sharking charges.   (PR Newswire Association, 5/16).  



Kansas Truck Drivers’ Union Official Pleads Guilty to Embezzlement

On Wednesday, May 11, Daniel Van Becelaere (pronounced Van Beesler) pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court in Wichita to embezzlement charges.  Van Becelaere, 53, a resident of Pittsburg, Kan., had served as secretary-treasurer of Local 763 of the United Transportation Union, an AFL-CIO affiliate, between January 1, 2000 and April 30, 2002.  For most of that time, he wrote unauthorized checks to himself from the union account, around 180 in all, totaling more than $36,000.  Van Becelaere faces a five-year prison sentence, a $250,000 fine and a restitution order.  (Wichita Eagle, 5/13).



Michigan Teachers’ Union Local Investigated for Possible Embezzlement

Police in Hancock, Mich. revealed that since March they’ve been investigating the possibility of embezzlement at a field office of the Michigan Education Association (MEA).  While no arrests have been made, a person close to the case who declined to be identified said as much as $80,000 to $100,000 may be missing.  Denis Skoglund, the association’s “18A Uniserv Director,” stated he is cooperating fully with the authorities.  The MEA is a 157,000-member affiliate of the National Education Association, the nation’s largest teachers’ union.  Hancock is located in the western portion of Michigan’s Upper Peninsula.  (Daily Mining Gazette, 4/15).