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Week of: June 17, 2001

Embezzlement? Look for Union Label

by F.R. Duplantier

The Organized Labor Accountability Project of the National Legal and Policy Center never runs out of material for its Union Corruption Update.

The National Legal and Policy Center (NLPC) reports in its Union Corruption Update that "Robert J. Gordon, ex-financial secretary-treasurer of the American Federation of State, County & Municipal Employees Local 366 in Milwaukee was indicted May 8th by a federal grand jury for an $88,000 union embezzlement. He allegedly wrote more than 200 unauthorized union checks to himself between 1996 and 1999."

NLPC also reports that "Donnie L. Block pled guilty May 14th to embezzling more than $38,000 from the Bakery, Confectionery & Tobacco Workers International Union Local 66 in Portsmouth, Virginia. He served as the local's president since 1995."

According to the Union Corruption Update, "a federal grand jury in Indianapolis indicted Michelle Spragur April 18th on two counts each of union embezzlement, falsification of union records, and destruction of union records. She allegedly stole about $30,000 from two United Brotherhood of Carpenters locals and used the funds for her personal use. She allegedly falsified union records to cover her thefts and then destroyed certain records when she left. >From 1995-98, she was a secretary for the locals and responsible for collecting dues."

Yet another corrupt union official cited by NLPC is Ray R. Curtis, who "pled guilty on May 10th in U.S. District Court to embezzling from Laborers' International Union of North America Local 327 in Augusta, Maine. He is the local's business manager and secretary-treasurer. He allegedly embezzled $8,548 from 1997-99. A Department of Labor audit determined that he gave himself 109 paychecks over 91 weeks, wrongly receiving $7,704. It also found that he used a union check to buy an $835 snowblower for his personal use."

Ex-Laborers boss John Serpico is on trial for "racketeering, conspiracy, and bank and mail fraud." Serpico allegedly "engaged in an 11-year scam in which deposits were made at financial institutions in return for favorable loans. He also allegedly had pension funds lend $6.5 million to developers in return for a $334,000 kickback."

NLPC reports that the "Hotel Employees & Restaurant Employees International Union filed internal union charges May 10th against three ex-bosses of Local 1 in Chicago: President Terrence Maloney, Secretary Scott Schneider, and Treasurer Jim Dyson. In June 1999, Local 1 held a bash for the bosses' election victory at the Drake Hotel with a $17,000 tab. At the time, the local was nearly $1 million in debt, had little cash, and no strike fund."

NLPC also reports on a recent audit of the American Federation of State, County & Municipal Employees' District Council 37, which "shows that millions of dollars in worker dues supported a lavish lifestyle" for top union officials. The audit "describes an out-of-control situation under Stanley Hill, DC37's ex-executive director, who, auditors said, allowed the local bosses to spend freely to secure their loyalty. During the four-year period on which the audit focused, DC37's assets plummeted from $20 million in 1995 to $3.5 million at the end of 1998."


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