When it comes to retaliation against those who expose corruption, the United Brotherhood of Carpenters and Joiners has few rivals. Five recently fired staff members of a New Jersey-based affiliate know this first-hand – and are taking action. On December 1, the former employees filed suit in New Jersey State Superior Court in Newark against a regional union benefit fund and its executive secretary, claiming they were ousted from their jobs last March for supporting a union official who had been terminated ostensibly for alerting law enforcement to the theft of about $1.5 million in benefits. Ex-benefits manager George Laufenberg had been indicted in September 2019 on federal fraud charges following a probe by the U.S. Labor Department’s Office of Inspector General and Employee Benefits Security Administration, assisted by the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey.
Harold Schaitberger (in photo), longtime head of the International Association of Fire Fighters (IAFF), has a reputation for wielding unchallenged power. But that power soon may dissipate in the wake of a memo prepared by the union’s number-two man. On March 20, IAFF Secretary-Treasurer Edward Kelly circulated a 105-page internal memorandum accusing Schaitberger and Kelly predecessor Thomas Miller of misusing or outright stealing about $6 million in union funds, especially pension assets. The memo, which followed an outside audit, also accuses Schaitberger of concealing these losses from the union executive board. Schaitberger disputes the charges, calling them “reckless and destructive.” But the IRS, the Department of Labor and the U.S. Attorney’s Office are conducting a probe that may conclude otherwise.
The International Association of Fire Fighters, which represents more than 300,000 firefighters in the U.S. and Canada, is a very influential public-sector union. And Harold Schaitberger is a big reason … Read More ➡
Norman Seabrook once represented guards at Rikers Island, one of the nation’s toughest city jails. He now likely will do some serious prison time. On August 15, Seabrook (in photo), former longtime president of New York City’s Correction Officers Benevolent Association (COBA), was found guilty by a Manhattan federal jury of honest services fraud and conspiracy related to a $60,000 bribe he had taken a few years earlier from the head of a now-bankrupt hedge fund in return for steering $20 million in COBA assets to the fund. The hedge fund CEO, Murray Huberfeld, and his emissary, Jona Rechnitz, already had pleaded guilty. Seabrook’s previous trial ended in a hung jury last November. “I will be vindicated because God is still on his throne,” said Seabrook after his conviction, vowing to appeal. Sentencing is set for November 30.
Murray Huberfeld had something on his mind other than front row seats at New York Knicks home games. That’s why he’s headed for prison. On May 25, Huberfeld, founder and head of a now-defunct hedge fund, pleaded guilty in Manhattan federal court to wire fraud conspiracy in connection with his payment of a $60,000 bribe through an intermediary to Norman Seabrook, deposed longtime president of New York City’s Correction Officers Benevolent Association (COBA), which represents employees at the sprawling Rikers Island jail complex. In exchange for the bribe, Seabrook allegedly had steered $20 million in COBA pension funds to the hedge fund, known as Platinum Partners. Huberfeld is scheduled for sentencing on September 14. Seabrook is set to go on trial on July 30.
It wasn’t as if Norman Seabrook needed the money. But in accepting it, he jeopardized the retirement of union members. Last Wednesday, June 8, Seabrook, president of New York City’s Correction Officers Benevolent Association (COBA), was arrested by FBI agents and charged with honest services fraud for receiving $60,000 in cash from an executive of a troubled Manhattan hedge fund, Platinum Partners, in exchange for steering $20 million in union pension money to the fund. Platinum Partners CEO Murray Huberfeld was similarly charged. Seabrook is out on $250,000 bond, but given his ouster by the COBA board, he doesn’t have much to do. U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara (in photo) termed this “a straightforward and explicit bribery scheme.” The actions are part of a wider probe into NYPD corruption.
The Correction Officers Benevolent Association, with more than 9,000 members, is the largest union of its type in the country. And most … Read More ➡