Posts tagged Embezzlement
Former union leader found guilty of fraud, other crimes
December 5, 2022 // Hawaii is the Aloha State, but union members of IBEW Local 1260 are not singing a happy tune: A jury found a former union leader guilty of fraud, money laundering, and embezzlement by misusing union dues. Brian Ahakuelo, a former union business manager and financial secretary, was found guilty of 68 charges to fund an extravagant and lavish lifestyle for himself and his family members. Marilyn Ahakuelo, Brian’s wife, was found guilty of 46 similar charges. Brian Ahakuelo placed five of his family members on union payroll, where each earned a six-figure salary, and used $80,000 in union dues to fund travel to Japan.
Former sports anchor, union official sentenced to probation for his role in corruption scandal
December 5, 2022 // Former KHNL sports anchor and union official Russell Yamanoha has been sentenced to two years of probation and was fined $5,000 for his role in a union corruption scandal. Yamanoha, the former assistant business manager for the IBEW Local 1260, was convicted in 2019 for helping rig union votes. Outside of court today, he apologized for the harms he caused. The union rigged the votes to increase membership dues to fund the lavish lifestyle of Yamanoha’s former boss Brian Ahakuelo. Critics said that given his news background, Yamanoha should have known better.
Reform candidates lead in UAW races with 73% of vote counted
December 2, 2022 // Members of the United Auto Workers union appeared on Thursday to favor replacing many of their current leaders in an election that stemmed from a federal bribery and embezzlement scandal involving former union officials. Reform-minded candidates, many part of the UAW Members United slate, are leading or close in multiple key races with about 73% of the vote in. Many challengers campaigned on rescinding concessions made to companies in previous contract talks, including cost-of-living pay raises, elimination of a two-tier wage and benefit system, and other items.
Laufenberg sentenced for stealing union funds
November 18, 2022 // George R. Laufenberg, a former commissioner of the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, admitted in June that he had stolen pension fund and made false statements to the U.S. Department of Labor. U.S. District Court Judge Kevin McNulty also imposed a $20,000 fine on the former labor leader. Federal prosecutors said that Laufenberg took the funds under a deferred compensation agreement that he was not entitled to. He was the administrative manager of the pension fund. The Eastern Atlantic States Regional Council of Carpenters fired Laufenberg in 2016. In 2018, they also terminated John Ballantyne, the former secretary-treasurer of the union and a political ally of Gov. Phil Murphy. Ballantyne alleged that he was forced out after emerging as a critic of Laufenberg.
Op-ed: Corruption in the Labor Movement: Labor Rackets
November 17, 2022 // Corruption by labor union officials, whether in service to themselves, political allies, or organized crime syndicates, has been a fixture of American labor history since the labor movement first began to organize in the late 19th century. While the extent of criminal influence in organized labor has declined thanks to extensive federal law enforcement activity and judicial oversight, major corruption scandals continue to dog the union movement. From the recent kickback scheme at the United Auto Workers to the downfall of Philadelphia union boss and political fixer Johnny Doc Dougherty to the confession of former Teamsters boss John Coli, who was well connected to Chicago politicos, systemic corruption persists.
Fighting For Workers Or Fleecing Them? An Ousted Honolulu Union Boss Faces His Reckoning
October 13, 2022 // In court filings, prosecutors describe a brazen abuse of power by a union leader and a stunning display of greed by a man accused of using union funds as a piggy bank for himself and his family. The feds say the family charged numerous personal expenses to the union and, when funds started to dwindle, rigged a union vote to raise dues against the wishes of the members. Ahakuelo and his family members have pleaded not guilty, and he said they all plan to take the stand. “It’s not true,” Ahakuelo said of the criminal charges in an interview with Civil Beat last week. “Some of the stuff will be, maybe, morally incorrect … However, it’s not criminal.”
General Motors Worker Forces UAW Bosses to Stop Seizing Dues for Politics
September 6, 2022 // Even after a sweeping federal corruption probe that has resulted in jail sentences for at least 12 union executives, it seems some United Auto Workers (UAW) officials haven’t learned their lesson regarding misuse of worker funds. Rochester General Motors employee Roger Clemons this January won a settlement forcing UAW officials at his plant to stop illegally funneling money from his paycheck into union politics.
This Labor Day, let’s ensure that individual workers are empowered, too
September 3, 2022 // Unions should be accountable to their members and remain so. Congress should make right to work laws the standard nationally. It should require unions to make their finances public and periodically hold re-certification votes to ensure they retain their members’ support and transparent elections for leadership. If a union and the workers it represents are in harmony, then none of these reforms will hamper the union—and may even help it. They only become a factor if those same workers want to hold their union accountable. Who has a problem with that?
Federal monitor accuses UAW of concealing misconduct probe
July 22, 2022 // Attorney Dawn Ison told the union that it was violating a court order by concealing the information, and the UAW has been behaving properly since, Barofsky wrote. But he wrote that the union was obstructing him. “The union’s concealment of evidence of the misconduct of one of its leaders and its own investigation into that misconduct interfered with the monitor’s ability to carry out his work,” Barofsky wrote. Treasury Department's special inspector general, Troubled Assets Relief Program, Judge David Lawson, Detroit,
Accountant Imprisoned for Taking $1M from New Orleans Firefighters Fund
July 15, 2022 // Wayne Triche, 72, pleaded guilty in March to charges of wire fraud and tax fraud. U.S. District Judge Greg Guidry sentenced Triche to 41 months in prison. He must also pay $937,659 in restitution to the New Orleans Firefighters Pension and Relief Fund (NOFPRF) and $329,895 to the Internal Revenue Service as part of the sentence. From 2009 to 2017, Triche embezzled approximately $937,659 from the fund, which is separate from the city and the fire department and is intended to administer survivor, disability and retirement benefits to participating firefighters. Triche also lied about his income, failing to claim the embezzled funds on his taxes from 2013 to 2016, which is how the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the IRS nabbed him in a joint investigation. U.S. Attorney Duane Evans, George Russell, at American Pension Consultants,