IATSE Secretary-Treasurer in Rhode Island Charged; Dies

John Brennan embezzled union funds to enhance his life. The stress of having been found out very likely contributed to his death. On March 19, Brennan, former secretary-treasurer of International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees Local 23, was indicted in U.S. District Court for the District of Rhode Island on 13 counts of stealing more than $74,000 in funds from the Providence union. The charges had followed a joint investigation by the Labor Department’s Office of Labor-Management Standards, Office of Inspector General and Employee Benefits Security Administration. Sadly, only a couple weeks later, on April 3, the Providence Journal reported his death, which had occurred on March 29. A spokesman for the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Providence confirmed to NLPC that the John Brennan indicated in the obituary was the same person named in the indictment. No cause of death was given.

Brennan, 48, a resident of Everett, Mass., held his union position during January 2006-December 2011. During that time, say prosecutors, he embezzled $33,546.82 from IATSE Local 23 and another $40,510.38 from the Local 23 Health & Welfare Fund. He deposited most of the money into a secret union bank account and the remainder into personal bank accounts. The Department of Labor, after analyzing annual union financial reports, suspected Brennan had ripped off his union. After conducting a probe, the DOL was convinced there was a basis for prosecution and turned the case over to the Justice Department. A grand jury eventually indicted Brennan on three counts of embezzlement from the union, three counts of embezzlement from the union benefit fund, and seven counts of mail fraud. His unfortunate death near the end of last month has made the issue of his guilt or innocence moot.