Ever wonder where union dues go? Our last blog post involved a CWA chapter that got hacked for nearly a half million dollars. But there was no need to fall for a Nigerian prince scam in Pittsburgh. Apparently you can still getting money the old fashioned way – just take it.
Boilermakers Local 154 claims that its former business manager embezzled nearly $1.5 million in member dues. The union represents over 2,000 welders, pipefitters and other construction workers.
Raymond Ventrone was Local 154’s business manager for over 10 years. He has been charged with embezzling $1.49 million from the union as well as tax evasion. United States v. Ventrone, No. 17-114 (W.D. Pa., 4/24/17). The government claims that from 2010 until 2015 Ventrone took money from the Local to buy all sorts of things.
The FBI is on the case. It has been going through property in anticipation of an auction to help the Local recover some of the lost money. Media reports suggest that the property Ventrone allegedly bought with union funds filled about 12,000 square feet of warehouse space. It is possible they just fell off the back of a truck, I suppose, but the stuff in the warehouse included gaming systems, musical instruments and sound systems, fitness equipment, designer purses, household appliances and furniture.
The International Brotherhood of Boilermakers issued a statement saying that it has placed the Local under the International’s supervision and cooperatively worked with authorities throughout the criminal investigation. “We are confident that the lodge, under new leadership, will work to rebuild the trust on behalf of its membership and the greater Pittsburgh community,” said IBB president Newton B. Jones.