LIUNA Ex-Chief of Staff Indicted for Embezzlement

As if Roderick Bennett didn’t have enough legal problems, now he’s got some more. On January 18, Bennett, former chief of staff at the Washington, D.C. headquarters of the Laborers International Union of North America (LIUNA), was indicted by a District of Columbia federal grand jury on three counts of embezzlement from the union totaling at least $170,000 and two counts of health care fraud against a union-sponsored health care plan. These charges follow an information count in November charging him with theft in the sum of $141,335. A Florida attorney, Aimee Occhetti, also was indicted with Bennett for health care fraud. The latest charges follow an investigation by the U.S. Labor Department’s Office of Labor-Management Standards, Employee Benefits Security Administration and Office of Inspector General.

Roderick Bennett, if nothing else, was well-paid during his four-year tenure as LIUNA chief of staff. For each of 2014 and 2015, his last two full calendar years at his post, his total compensation exceeded $300,000. That apparently wasn’t enough to induce him to stay on a straight and narrow path. According to prosecutors, Bennett, now 49, a resident of Alexandria, Virginia, during December 2013-October 2016 made numerous charges on his LIUNA-issued American Express card unrelated to union business totaling at least $170,000. These purchases included travel to other U.S. cities, personal boat slip fees, hotel stays, restaurant meals, private school tuition, jewelry, clothing and shoes. In addition, Bennett allegedly placed Ms. Occhetti, an attorney formerly based in Washington, D.C. and now based in The Villages, Fla., on the Laborers health care plan though she was not a full-time union employee and hence not eligible. Ms. Occhetti subsequently obtained over $66,000 in medical reimbursements from Aetna. Bennett will appear at an arraignment at a later date.