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Union corruption update; theft just part of the deal

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Just in time for Labor Day, the National Legal and Policy Center published its latest “Union Corruption Update,” which could be known as “your union dues at work.”

The center has been posting and updating this report since 1997, and media outlets like The New York Times and the Chicago Tribune often use it as a reference source, according to the center’s website.

Here are a few highlights from the latest update:

Christopher Zawikowski, former president of American Federation of Government Employees Local 3495, was charged with stealing less than $2,500 from the Wisconsin union on July 31, following an investigation by the Labor Department’s Office of Labor-Management Standards.

Harold Washington, former president of National Treasury Employees Union Chapter 105, was sentenced on Aug. 5 for embezzling more than $38,000 from the California-based union and falsifying financial reports to conceal the thefts. His sentence? One year of probation and a $100 fine. I guess crime sometimes does pay.

Jeffrey Beresford, former business manager and financial secretary of United Association of Plumbers and Pipefitters Local 83, was sentenced on July 16 to one year of probation plus restitution for the $4,507 in funds he stole from the West Virginia local.

Charles Rocha, former national political director for the United Steelworkers, was sentenced on July 30 for embezzling $12,449 from the Pennsylvania union. He got two years’ probation and a $2,000 fine and will have to repay the funds he stole.

Jacquelyn Pugh-Rodgers, former vice president of the Chicago-area American Federation of Government Employees Local 2107, was sentenced on July 29 to three years’ probation for mail fraud. She will serve six months of her sentence in community confinement.

Kristine Stephens was sentenced on July 15 for embezzling $81,564 from Nevada Local 567 of the International Union of Painters and Allied Trades, where she served as administrative assistant and bookkeeper. She was ordered to serve five years of probation, pay restitution for the stolen money and perform 100 hours of community service.

Sofia Gonzalez, another union bookkeeper, was sentenced on July 12 to five years of probation for embezzling $40,087 from the Seattle-based Service Employees International Union Local 925.

Timothy Harper was sentenced on July 17 to three months in prison and three months of supervised home confinement for stealing $15,837 from the Great Lakes, Ill.-based American Federation of Government Employees, Local 2326, where he served as its president.

The list continues, and we haven’t even gone back to June yet.

In addition to documenting union wrongdoing, the center’s update also noted that the Obama administration had been caught lying to the American people when it indicated it had nothing to do with the day-to-day operations at General Motors following the GM bailout.

The inspector general for the Troubled Asset Relief Program discovered that taxpayer funds were used to “top-off” pensions for GM union retirees while non-union retirees lost the majority of their benefits. This was done at the direction of Obama administration officials, according to the Union Corruption Update.

Happy Labor Day.

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