This summer hasn’t been the best for the International Longshoremen’s Association (ILA). On July 6 the Justice Department slapped the union’s top leadership with a massive civil RICO suit centering on acts of extortion, fraud and other crimes it allegedly tolerated in the Ports of New York-New Jersey and Miami. Now, just two weeks later, on July 19, the department accused leaders of an ILA affiliate in Puerto Rico and several of their associates of ripping off as much as $10 million and underreporting another $1.5 million.
Four officials of UTM Local 1740, along with six businessmen and three companies, were indicted in U.S. District Court on 23 counts of embezzlement, money-laundering and maintaining false records. The union officials were Local 1740 President Jorge L. Aponte-Figueroa; attorney Ada Perez-Alonso, Enrique Sosa-Hernandez and Milagros Pagan-Morales. The businessmen named in the suit were Angel Ramallo-Diaz, Rafael Garcia-Perez, Fernando Sanchez-Bencon, Eduardo Sanchez-Bencon, Francisco Consuegra-Lastayo, and Guillermo Rivera-Oliver. The corporations were Ramallo Brothers, Inc., Consuegra, Inc. and RRO, Inc. The indictment accuses Aponte-Figueroa and Sosa-Hernandez of embezzling more than $1.95 million from Local 1740. It also accuses Aponte-Figueroa of underreporting nearly $1.5 million in dues collections. Finally, and most seriously, the indictment alleges that Aponte-Figueroa, four other individuals, and Ramallo Brothers, Inc. conspired to convert ERISA union funds in excess of $8 million to their own personal use.
Uncovering theft on this scale required the work of several agencies. The Labor Department’s Office of Labor-Management Standards (OLMS), the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Puerto Rico, and the FBI all took part in the investigation. (OLMS, 8/6).