Eleven Carpenters Regional Council Members in Midwest Sentenced

The Justice Department has finished its work – and with a perfect score. On October 26, the last of 11 members of locals represented by the Indiana/Kentucky/Ohio Regional Council of the United Brotherhood of Carpenters and Joiners, Daniel Rehfelt, pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Indiana to one count of theft from a union-sponsored health care plan. He then was sentenced to six months on probation and ordered to pay full restitution. This was the same sentence handed out to the other ten defendants. All had been charged last August. The actions follow a probe by the U.S. Labor Department’s Office of Inspector General and Employee Benefits Security Administration.

Union Corruption Update covered this case several months ago. Federal prosecutors had alleged in separate information counts that eleven Carpenters union workers, all but one an Indiana resident, had fleeced the council health plan by submitting fake reimbursement claims and attaching copies of uncashed personal checks. The defendants – Daniel Rehfelt, Bradley Crostreet, Ryan Cundiff, Brian Ellis, Dennis Gardner, Robert Gutierrez, Christopher LeBell, Aaron Merkel, Eric Murray, Aaron Vaughan and Josh Westfall – wound up costing the plan a combined sum of more than $130,000.