It’s getting hard to find an honest man at Communications Workers of America Local 14170. The union, which represents several hundred print shop and mailroom employees at several New York City-area daily newspapers, including the New York Times and the New York Post, now can count its former president and interim administrator as admitted embezzlers. On Wednesday, April 21 Wayne Mitchell pleaded guilty in Manhattan federal court to embezzling more than $200,000 from the union, also known as Mailers Local 6, which he’d led for decades before his ouster a couple years ago. Two days later on April 23, his appointed successor, Larry DeAngelis, pleaded guilty to stealing $60,000 from the union. Each faces a maximum of five years in prison.
Federal prosecutors had charged that Mitchell, 58, a resident of Fairless Hills, Pa., during October 2004-May 2008 wrote himself around $250,000 worth of phony payroll checks, most of which had bounced. Additionally, he embezzled funds by falsely claiming various personal expenses as union-related. His downfall began when a union whistleblower asked local officers for copies of the union’s LM-2 financial reports filed with the U.S. Department of Labor going back several years. The 2004 report revealed disbursements to a fictitious employee. And the 2006 LM-2 form showed Mitchell had paid himself a salary of $200,000, well above the maximum allowed under the union constitution. With a full-scale investigation by the Labor Department’s Office of Labor-Management Standards underway, Mitchell stepped down from the presidency in June 2008.
The union board brought in an interim administrator, Larry DeAngelis, to manage union finances. But apparently he was no more honest than his predecessor. DeAngelis, 52, a resident of Franklin Square, N.Y., made out about $60,000 in unauthorized union checks to himself. Forced out last September, he since reportedly has paid back the union in full. Meanwhile, the union during the Mitchell years had racked up more than $200,000 in back taxes to the IRS, hundreds of thousands of dollars to other creditors, including the New York State Department of Taxation and Finance, and several missed contributions to the employee pension fund. DeAngelis and Mitchell are set for sentencing, respectively, on July 28 and September 8.