Wednesday, January 27, 2010
Thursday, January 21, 2010
Wednesday, January 13, 2010
For Immediate Release
United States Attorney's Office
Eastern District of Michigan
Contact: (313) 226-9100
Joseph Roxlyn Jewett, of Las Vegas, Nevada, pleaded guilty to giving a kickback to the former leader of the Michigan Regional Council of Carpenters (“MRCC”), United States Attorney Barbara L. McQuade announced today. The former union boss had engineered the use of Jewett’s company as a consultant on a deal involving the construction of a casino that was funded by the Carpenters Pension Trust Fund.
During a hearing before United States District Judge Arthur J. Tarnow, Jewett admitted that in May 2006, Jewett promised to give Walter Ralph Mabry a one-third interest in an $800,000 investment. Mabry was the Chairman of the Board of Trustees of the Carpenters Pension Trust Fund and Executive Secretary-Treasurer of the MRCC. Jewett promised Mabry the one-third share of the $800,000 investment because Mabry had asked the investment manager of the Carpenters Pension Trust Fund to use Jewett’s company, J&R Ventures, as a consultant on a pension fund investment in a casino in Biloxi, Mississippi that had been wiped out by Hurricane Katrina.
Based on his guilty plea and conviction for giving a kickback to a fiduciary of a labor union pension fund, Jewett is facing a maximum of three years in prison and a fine of up to $250,000. Based on calculations under the United States Sentencing Guidelines included in the Plea Agreement, Jewett is facing a sentencing guideline range of between 18 and 24 months in prison. Jewett also has agreed to forfeit $157,000 in funds derived from the kickback scheme.
McQuade was joined in the announcement by FBI Special Agent in Charge Andrew Arena, James Vandenberg, the Special Agent in Charge of the Department of Labor, Office of Investigations–Office of Labor Racketeering and Fraud Investigations, and Regional Director Paul C. Baumann of the Employee Benefits Security Administration.
Andrew Arena, Special Agent in Charge, Federal Bureau of Investigation said, “Embezzling union resources and accepting kickbacks systematically robs union monetary assets and decreases benefits to all members. The FBI will continue to aggressively investigate these cases with our law enforcement partners."
James Vanderberg, Special Agent-in-Charge for the Chicago Regional Office of the United States Department of Labor, Office of Inspector General said, “Pension related kickback schemes by consultants to union affiliated benefit plans compromise the retirement accounts of union members. This office will work aggressively with our law enforcement partners to investigate crimes that undermine the financial well being of these pension funds.”
The case was investigated by agents of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Department of Labor, Office of Inspector General–Office of Labor Racketeering and Fraud Investigations, and the Employee Benefits Security Administration. It is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney David A. Gardey and Assistant United States Attorney Phillip Ross.
Monday, January 11, 2010
By Corey Boles
WASHINGTON (Dow Jones)--The head of the largest group of U.S. labor unions urged congressional lawmakers to support an excise tax on the rich to pay for sweeping health-care legislation, saying that a tax on generous health-care plans would "drive a wedge between the middle class and the poor."
Richard Trumka, president of the AFL-CIO, said in a speech Monday that lawmakers should implement the proposed payment method outlined in the House version of the health-care bill, rather than that in the Senate version that would tax so-called "cadillac" health-care insurance plans.
"The tax on benefits in the Senate bill pits working Americans who need health care for their families against working Americans struggling to keep health care for their families," he said. "This is a policy designed to benefit elites."
Trumka spoke at the National Press Club in Washington D.C., shortly before he went to the White House for a meeting with President Barack Obama. He said he would raise his concerns at that meeting.
Toward the end of his remarks, Trumka was cut off by the moderator of the panel, USA Today reporter Donna Leinwand, after he ran over the allotted time.
The White House has said it favors a tax on generous health-care insurance plans to pay for the expansion in care.
Labor unions oppose the proposed Senate tax for the health-care overhaul because they say many of their members, who have traded higher wages for more comprehensive benefits packages, would be penalized by it.
Trumka said the labor movement would continue fighting for the House version of the legislation until a bill is signed into law. The House bill would levy a surtax on couples with incomes of $1 million a year or more and individuals with incomes of $500,000 or more.
House and Senate Democratic lawmakers are locked in negotiations over their differing versions of the health-care bill. One of the key differences is how to pay for the several-hundred-billion-dollar measure to extend health-care insurance to people who can't currently afford it.
Trumka also called on lawmakers to create an independent consumer financial regulatory body as part of an ongoing overhaul of the regulatory framework for the industry. The effort to redesign the regulatory landscape of the financial system is held up in the Senate where lawmakers are trying to reach a compromise on how to proceed.
The question of whether to create a new agency with a specific mandate to protect consumers is one of the major outstanding issues in those talks.
He also said Congress should impose a tax on financial transactions to fund federal government efforts to create jobs in the private sector. This proposal appears to have largely fallen out of favor in Congress, not least because it could lead to a competitive disadvantage for U.S. financial firms, unless the levy was implemented by other countries as well.
Trumka predicted that legislation allowing workers to organize labor unions more easily, dubbed "card check," would be passed in the first quarter of 2010.
The bill has been one of the highest priorities of the labor movement under the Obama administration. It has been stalled in Congress because it isn't clear that it has enough support in the Senate.
Saturday, January 9, 2010
To Frank Spencer
From John Musumeci
Subject: Disbursement of Assets
Dear Supervisor Frank Spencer,
On December 11, 2009 members of the New York City District Council of Carpenters received a notice from the Board of Trustees (below) stating that a disbursement of $269.39 will be added to members Annuity Plan account. The notice says this disbursement of assets is from “unclaimed funds”.
Many members have contacted me regarding this disbursement and would like a more detailed explanation of these “unclaimed funds”.
Can you please provide answers to the following six questions:
What was the total amount of “unclaimed funds” disbursed to members?
What period of time do these “unclaimed funds” represent?
How long have these “unclaimed funds” been inactive?
Why are these funds unclaimed?
What efforts were made to restoring “unclaimed funds” to their rightful owners?
How were these “unclaimed funds” discovered?
Thanking you in advance for your cooperation regarding this matter.
Thursday, January 7, 2010
By Ward Harkavy
Yonkers Democratic pol Sandy Annabi and two others were charged today with conspiracy, bribery, and extortion in connection with the startling reversal in 2006 of Annabi's opposition to a Forest City Ratner project in Westchester County.
Forest City Ratner, currently trying to ram Atlantic Yards down Brooklyn's throat, is unnamed and unindicted and unmentioned by specific name even in the U.S. Attorney's official statement.
But the case centers on its controversial Ridge Hill development. (Indictment here; "Developer No. 2" is Forest City Ratner.)
Annabi had led the opposition to the project, blasting Forest City Ratner as "probably richer than God" and "robbing the city blind." But in July 2006, with the project imperiled, Annabi, who was on the Yonkers City Council, suddenly dropped her opposition to it. The feds say she was bribed.
They're whooping it up over at Develop Don't Destroy Brooklyn, which points to Norman Oder's piece at Atlantic Yards Report detailing Forest City Ratner's alleged role: FCR supposedly gave one of the conspirators, GOP muckety-muck Zehy Jereis, a consulting contract after he supposedly got Annabi to change her mind about the Ridge Hill project.
All suspects are innocent until they're proven guilty or unless they somehow wriggle off the hook. Except for the New Jersey Nets, the condemned property owned by Bruce Ratner. The NBA team is currently 3-31, and not even eminent domain can save it.
In the Westchester case, the feds say Annabi sold her vote "for baubles and trinkets." That's standard practice for New Yorkers: In 1626, Peter Minuit purchased Manhattan from the natives for wampum worth about 60 guilders. Some say that was about $24, others $72. As Straight Doper Cecil Adams points out, "There are some who would contend that $72 or even $24 for Manhattan was not such a hot bargain. These people are mostly Republicans."
Tuesday, January 5, 2010
On Friday November 20, 2009 Page Six had this posting:
"WORD is...Denis Sheil had an unlucky Friday the 13th. Seems the federal government would like to ask the former "Unity Team" partner a few questions. Sheils however is not in the talking mood, he advised his lawyers that he would have to plead the fifth if questioned. Sources say district council lawyer Gary Rothman advised Sheil to use his sick time and retire. Dennis was spotted last Friday cleaning out his desk."
It has been well documented at the UBC Hearings, both Pete Thomassen (salary $268,827) and Denis Sheil, (salary $253,500) among other things, turned a blind eye to contractor corruption and failed to protect our financial interest, yet these two men remained in positions of power. Why?
With the retirement of Sheil (rumored to collect a yearly pension over $200,000) on December 31 2009, Pete Thomassen, who Page Six is reporting will be fired, is the last remaining member of the disgraced "Unity Team".
Reprinted below from The Carpenter, winter 2009
We hear... THAT assistant supervisor Pete Thomassen will be fired this week. Sources say the feds have subpoenaed district council financial records for the last three years and are paying special attention to Thomassen’s credit card and travel expenses. Sources also say Supervisor Frank Spencer has hired Jack Mitchell and Dennis Walsh to assist him in the supervision over the district council, both men were hired years ago by federal judge Conboy...story developing.
Monday, January 4, 2010
By Katie Drews, for ChicagoUnionNews
Though unions are usually fighting against job cuts, one Chicago union recently issued layoff notices to its own employees.
Effective Jan. 1, the Chicago Regional Council of Carpenters laid off 58 organizers -– the majority of its full-time organizing staff.
The positions were eliminated as a cost-saving move for the union at a time when there's not much work to organize, according to Frank Libby, president of the council, a union consortium based at 12 E. Erie St. in Chicago.
"We still have the organizing department running, but there's not a whole lot going on out there. The residential field has hit rock bottom," Libby said. "With the lack of income coming in and the lack of jobs out there, it's a double-edged sword."
The layoffs could save the union well over $1 million, based on 2008 salary figures filed with the U.S. Department of Labor. However, Libby said he could not immediately provide financial details.
The role of an organizer is to find nonunion work sites and persuade the contractors and carpenters to join the union. Some workers fear that nonunion construction could increase because of the layoffs.
"It will be on the rise," said Randy Drogos, one of the laid-off organizers. "There's organizing work to be done out there, but if there's no money to pay you, what can you do?"
Libby, however, does not believe the amount of nonunion work will increase, saying both union and nonunion work has "flatlined." He also said the remaining union staff of around 140 can pick up the slack from the cut positions, which covered northern Illinois, eastern Iowa and southeast Wisconsin.
As for the organizers, most of them are also carpenters and could look for work back in the field. That's the case for Drogos, who said he plans to find a job with a contractor.
"You don't have a choice when they tell you the money is not there," said Drogos, a 62-year-old Des Plaines resident. "You pick up your shoes and you go looking for work elsewhere."
Saturday, January 2, 2010
Brothers and Sisters recently the popular Jawin message board has been shut down. There are those in the UBC that are actively seeking to silence those who speak out. These UBC leaders are upset that common citizens like you are exercising your right to free speech, and are using it to let the UBC know you had enough of their lies and are going to let their voice be heard.
It has been well documented at the UBC Hearings, both Pete Thomassen and Dennis Sheil, among other things, turned a blind eye to contractor corruption and failed to protect our financial interest.
We are intentionally being kept in the dark by these UBC leaders. This is our union, these are our employees taking bribes and narcotics, hiding illegal weapons and drugs on our property, while Frank Spencer installs the person closest to the corruption, Pete Thomassen to a position of power.
Local157.blogspot believes in the free and open exchange of ideas and opinions in the belief that as union members you have the right to hear, and to be heard. I urge you to get involved, stand up and speak out. Make phone calls, send the e-mails, use this forum. Don't let the UBC silence you! The future of our union is at stake. Please keep it up!