The repercussions of a land deal managed to claim any number of officials and associates of the United Brotherhood of Carpenters and Joiners in Northwest Indiana. The final blow now has been struck in federal court this month. Paul Hernandez, formerly president of Carpenters Local 1005, received a prison sentence of more than three years, while Kenneth Castaldi, head of a union job training center, got two and a half years for their respective roles in embezzling $143,000 over five years from a $203,000 State of Indiana training grant. The pair had been found guilty and convicted of fraud and theft of union funds last September.
Federal prosecutors asserted that Hernandez and Castaldi placed funds designated for the training program in a separate account they controlled, and signed each other’s checks as well, in order to conceal the diversion of funds. The defendants had maintained that union trustees were aware of the arrangement. The funds, they argued, were nothing more than extra compensation for running a program that trained thousands of members for high-paying jobs. Hernandez’s predecessor, Gerry Nannenga, as reported in these pages, had been convicted in 2005 for accepting bribes from developers who overcharged the union pension fund to help build the Coffee Creek planned community near the Northwest Indiana community of Chesterton. (Post-Tribune, Sun-Times News Group, 8/16/07).