Roberto Gracia Jr. probably wishes right now that he was more attentive to detail. On August 29, Gracia, former president of International Longshoremen’s Association Local 1544, was charged in U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Texas with failing to maintain financial records of the Brownsville-based union. Several years prior to his tenure at that local, he had headed ILA Local 1395, where he also had failed to maintain financial records. Gracia’s inaction caused a combined loss of nearly $30,000. He pleaded guilty immediately thereafter and was sentenced to five years of probation. He already had paid full restitution. The actions follow an investigation by the U.S. Labor Department’s Office of Labor-Management Standards.
International Longshoremen’s Association Local 1544 represents clerks and checkers at the Port of Brownsville. Roberto Gracia, now 63, a resident of Brownsville, headed the union during 2012-13. According to prosecutors, he was less than attentive to his duties. He failed to report certain spending by the union, thus causing a loss of funds totaling $3,478.30. That actually was small change to the loss he caused a sister union, ILA Local 1395, also based in Brownsville. As Local 1395 president during 2006-07, Gracia allegedly had failed to properly maintain financial records, which led to a loss of $26,354. His guilty plea included an admission of violations at both locals. He then was sentenced to five years of probation.