IUOE Business Agent in Detroit Area Sentenced for Role in Extortion Conspiracy

The fallout from union corruption in Detroit that once reached into City Hall continues. On April 18, David Hart, former financial secretary-business agent for International Union of Operating Engineers Local 324, was sentenced in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan to time already served, and ordered to pay $37,000 in restitution and a $100 assessment, for his role in an extortion conspiracy involving now-sentenced local boss John Hamilton and at least one other union official. He had pleaded guilty in February 2015 to one count of misprision of a felony for failing to report to authorities the commission of extortion. The actions follow a joint probe by the FBI, the IRS and the U.S. Labor Department’s Office of Labor-Management Standards, Office of Inspector General and Employee Benefits Security Administration.

Operating Engineers Local 324 was deep in Detroit local government corruption during the tenure of former Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick, now serving a 13-year sentence in federal prison on a variety of charges. John Hamilton, longtime head of the 18,000-member union, pleaded guilty in August 2017 to extorting annual kickbacks of at least $5,000 from local business agents and members, directing the funds to a Team Hamilton Slate Fund. Moreover, he embezzled a portion of the funds for his own personal use and threatened to terminate those who complained. The scheme unraveled after Hamilton had stolen more than $70,000 from the fund for his own use and another slightly over $70,000 for distribution to two union officials, David Hart and Steven Minella, the latter of whom had pleaded guilty in 2015. Neither had shaken down anyone, but they knowingly profited from other shakedowns and concealed the transactions.