Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Former carpenters' union boss pleads guilty to taking kickbacks

Robert Snell / / The Detroit News

Detroit— The former head of the Michigan Regional Council of Carpenters pleaded guilty Monday in federal court to accepting kickbacks from a casino consultant and a Chicago businessman who donated $10,000 to ex-Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick's nonprofit foundation.

The former union official, Walter Ralph Mabry, reached a plea deal with prosecutors that could send him to prison for 21 months.

But defense lawyer Arthur Weiss argued Mabry should spend no more than six months in prison when he is sentenced Aug. 16 by U.S. District Judge Arthur Tarnow.

"We will pursue corruption whether it occurs in City Hall, public schools, federal agencies or labor unions," U.S. Attorney Barbara McQuade said in a statement. "When labor leaders abuse their positions for personal gain, they rob the working men and women they were entrusted to represent."

The plea comes more than a week after Mabry, 65, was freed from federal prison after serving a sentence for receiving illegally discounted work on his Grosse Pointe Park home.

"He doesn't have the resources to go to trial and he doesn't have the physical strength to go to trial," Weiss said.

"He's still suffering the ravages of cancer and his family doesn't want him to go through the rigors of a trial."

In this case, Mabry was charged with fraud in connection with kickbacks he received from April 2004 through September 2006.

They were paid by casino consultant Joseph "Roxy" Jewett and John Orecchio, a Chicago businessman, according to federal records.

Orecchio told investigators he got an audience with Kilpatrick after writing a $10,000 check to his nonprofit foundation, the Kilpatrick Civic Fund.

Kilpatrick then took the unusual step of personally appearing with Orecchio before a city pension board while Orecchio made a pitch for a multimillion-dollar investment in his company, records show.

The pension fund approved the investment, though it did not ultimately go ahead.

As part of his plea deal, Orecchio was cooperating with a federal investigation into Kilpatrick, his civic fund and two public Detroit pension funds.

Mabry admitted he accepted $5,000 to $10,000 in hotel and entertainment expenses.

The judge will decide if Mabry also agreed to take $266,000 as an additional kickback in exchange for his decisions related to the Carpenters' Pension Trust Fund investment in a casino.

If so, Mabry could face a longer prison sentence.

"Embezzling union resources and accepting kickbacks systematically robs union monetary assets and decreases benefits to all members," Andrew Arena, special agent in charge of the FBI in Detroit, said in a statement.



  2. Jail...then tar and feathers sounds good for ALL Local 687 officials who knew about this scam of the members money !!!

  3. ralph needs to visit ashby and reedy

  4. our newest est has a sexual misconduct with his 12 year old step daughter,MICHAEL JACKSON!!! maybe the international should remove him.

  5. How about a round of golf on your private golf course up north. Wonder who paid for that little benefit?

    1. Oh you mean the golf course we purchased for $18 million dollars then turned around and sold for 4 million?

  6. Forward 5/10/13...Trustees of local 687 make announcement that they are cutting Retirement disability pensions as well as regular Pensions from this local only because of state wide economy..Yet, all other Carpenters unions involved state wide are not...They say these cuts are necessary...Necessary why? Because obvesliy a crime has been committed, and funds are now gone for the hard working men and women from this local! WAKE THE HECK UP!


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