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Union Facts

Plumbers

Guilty Pleas

Office of Labor-Management Enforcement

The Office of Labor-Management Standards (OLMS) conducts both civil and criminal investigations of alleged violations of the Labor-Management Reporting and Disclosure Act (LMRDA) and related laws.

These investigations by OLMS District Offices involve issues such as embezzlements of union funds, union officer elections, the filing of required reports by unions and others with OLMS, and the imposition of trusteeships over subordinate unions by a parent body. These investigations may result in legal enforcement actions.

DateDescription
September 30th, 2016On September 30, 2016, in the Suffolk County Superior Court in Boston, Massachusetts, Marie Esther LaFontant, former bookkeeper for Plumbers and Gasfitters UA Local 12 (located in Boston, Mass.), was sentenced to serve one year in the house of corrections and 10 years of probation, and was ordered to pay restitution in the amount of $154,857. On September 26, 2016, LaFontant pled guilty to three counts of larceny over $250 and falsifying corporate books, in violation of Massachusetts General Law (MGL) Chapter 266, Section 30 and MGL Chapter 266, Section 67. The sentencing follows an investigation by the OLMS Boston-Buffalo District Office and the Massachusetts State Police.
January 19th, 2016On January 19, 2016, in the United States District Court for the Northern District of Ohio, Heather Banhidy, former office secretary for Plumbers Local 120 (located in Cleveland, Ohio), was sentenced to two years of probation and 50 hours of community service, and she was also ordered to pay a $100 special assessment. Banhidy previously made full restitution prior to her sentencing. On October 26, 2015, Banhidy pled guilty to one count of embezzlement of $13,906, in violation of 29 U.S.C. 501(c). The sentencing follows an investigation by the OLMS Cincinnati-Cleveland District Office.
October 26th, 2015On October 26, 2015, in the United States District Court for the Northern District of Ohio, Heather Banhidy, former office secretary for Plumbers Local 120 (located in Cleveland, Ohio), pled guilty to one count of embezzlement, in violation of 29 U.S.C. 501(c). On August 12, 2015, an indictment was filed charging Banhidy with embezzling $13,906 by failing to record cash receipts. The guilty plea follows an investigation by the OLMS Cincinnati-Cleveland District Office.
July 16th, 2013On July 16, 2013, in the United States District Court for the Northern District of West Virginia, Jeffrey Beresford, former business manager and Financial Secretary of Plumbers Local 83 (located in Wheeling, W.Va.), was sentenced to one year of probation and was ordered to pay $4,507 in restitution and a $25 special assessment. On April 10, 2013, Beresford pled guilty to falsifying local union records, in violation of 29 U.S.C. 439(c). On July 18, 2013, Beresford paid full restitution. The sentencing follows an investigation by the OLMS Pittsburgh District Office.
July 16th, 2013On July 16, 2013, in the United States District Court for the Northern District of West Virginia, Jeffrey Beresford, former business manager and Financial Secretary of Plumbers Local 83 (located in Wheeling, W.Va.), was sentenced to one year of probation and was ordered to pay $4,507 in restitution and a $25 special assessment. On April 10, 2013, Beresford pled guilty to falsifying local union records, in violation of 29 U.S.C. 439(c). On July 18, 2013, Beresford paid full restitution. The sentencing follows an investigation by the OLMS Pittsburgh District Office.
May 17th, 2013On May 17, 2013, in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of California, Robert L. Carr, former Financial Secretary-Treasurer and Business Manager of Plumbers Local 228 (located in Yuba City, Calif.), was sentenced to 30 months in prison, and his wife, Theresa A. Carr, was sentenced to 3 months in prison. The Carrs were also ordered to pay $120,000 in restitution. On February 17, 2012, the Carrs pled guilty to one count of conspiracy to misappropriate labor union funds and two counts of misappropriation of labor union funds. The sentencing follows an investigation by the OLMS San Francisco District Office, the Department of Labor’s Office of Inspector General, and the U.S. Postal Inspection Service.
April 10th, 2013On April 10, 2013, in the United States District Court for the Northern District of West Virginia, Jeffrey Beresford, current Business Manager and Financial Secretary of Plumbers Local 83 (located in Wheeling, W.Va.), pled guilty to falsifying local union records, in violation of 29 U.S.C. 439(c). The guilty plea follows an investigation by the OLMS Pittsburgh District Office.
September 10th, 2012On September 10, 2012, in the United States District Court in the Southern District of Illinois, William Adrian, former Business Manager for Plumbers and Pipefitters Local 101 (located in Belleville, Ill.), was sentenced to 366 days in prison, three years of supervised release, and was ordered to pay restitution of $102,572.78 and a $200 special assessment. On March 30, 2012, Adrian pled guilty to a two-count information charging him with embezzling union funds, in violation of 29 U.S.C. 501(c), and theft from an employee pension or welfare plan, in violation of 18 U.S.C. 664. The sentencing follows an investigation by the OLMS St. Louis District Office, the Employee Benefits Security Administration, and the Department of Labor’s Office of Inspector General.
May 30th, 2012On May 30, 2012, in the United States District Court for the Southern District of Illinois, William Adrian, former business manager for Plumbers and Pipefitters Local 101 (located in Belleville, Ill.), pled guilty to a two-count information charging him with embezzling union funds, in violation of 29 U.S.C. 501(c), and theft from an employee pension or welfare plan, in violation of 18 U.S.C. 664. The plea follows an investigation by the OLMS St. Louis District Office, the Employee Benefits Security Administration, and the Department of Labor’s Office of Inspector General.
February 17th, 2012On February 17, 2012, in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of California, Robert L. Carr, former Financial Secretary-Treasurer and Business Manager of Plumbers Local 228 (located in Yuba City, Calif.), and his wife Theresa A. Carr, each pled guilty to one count of conspiracy to misappropriate labor union funds, in violation of 18 U.S.C. 371, and two counts of misappropriation of labor union funds, in violation of 29 U.S.C. 501(c). Robert and Theresa Carr agreed to pay restitution totaling $120,000 and asked the court for a 30-month and 3-month sentence, respectively. The pleas follow an investigation by the OLMS San Francisco District Office, the Department of Labor’s Office of Inspector General, and the U.S. Postal Inspection Service.
January 26th, 2012On January 26, 2012, in the Franklin County Court of Common Pleas, Helen Stupka, former office secretary for the Ohio State Plumbers Association (located in Columbus, Ohio), was sentenced to 11 months of confinement (suspended), four years of community control, and was ordered to make restitution in the amount of $13,372.91. On December 14, 2011, Stupka pled guilty to one count of theft. The sentencing follows an investigation by the OLMS Cleveland District Office.
January 24th, 2012On January 24, 2012, in the United States District Court of Rhode Island, Kenneth Aurecchia, former Regional Vice President of the Plumbers International Union and former business manager for Plumbers Local 51 (located in East Providence, R.I.), pled guilty to one count of wire fraud in the amount of $107,515 and one count of filing a false tax return in the amount of $17,886. The guilty plea follows a change of plea hearing that was filed on December 1, 2011. The guilty plea follows an investigation by the OLMS Boston District Office, the Department of Labor’s Office of Inspector General, the Employee Benefits Security Administration, and the Department of Treasury’s Providence Office.
December 14th, 2011On December 14, 2011, in the Franklin County Court of Common Pleas in Columbus, Ohio, Helen Stupka, former office secretary for the Ohio State Plumbers Association (located in Columbus, Ohio), pled guilty to embezzling $13,372.91. The guilty plea follows an investigation by the OLMS Cleveland District Office.
July 25th, 2011On July 25, 2011, in the United States District Court for the Western District of Michigan, April Franklin, former office secretary for Plumbers Local 333 (located in Lansing, Mich.) and former bookkeeper for Local 333's Joint Apprenticeship Training Committee, was sentenced to 42 months of imprisonment, followed by 36 months of supervised release and 300 hours of community service. She was also ordered to pay restitution of $411,979.37 and a $200 special assessment. On April 7, 2011, Franklin pled guilty to one count of embezzling union funds in the amount of $40,886 and one count of theft from an employee benefit plan totaling $234,331.33. The sentencing follows an investigation by the OLMS Detroit District Office, the Department of Labor’s Office of Inspector General, and the Employee Benefits Security Administration.
April 7th, 2011On April 7, 2011, in the United States District Court for the Western District of Michigan, April Franklin, former office secretary for Plumbers Local 333 (located in Lansing, Mich.) and former bookkeeper for Local 333's Joint Apprenticeship Training Committee, pled guilty to one count of embezzling union funds in the amount of $40,886 and one count of theft from an employee benefit plan totaling $234,331.33. Sentencing is scheduled for July 25, 2011. The plea follows an investigation by the OLMS Detroit District Office, the Department of Labor’s Office of Inspector General, and the Department of Labor’s Employee Benefits Security Administration.
February 7th, 2011On February 7, 2011, in the United States District Court for the Southern District of Mississippi, Mechelle Busse (aka Mechelle Singleton), former office manager for United Association of Plumbers and Pipefitters Local 568 (located in Gulfport, Miss.), pled guilty to a one-count indictment for embezzling union funds between June 2005 and December 2007, in an amount ranging from $76,000 to $110,117.69. Sentencing is scheduled for May 11, 2011. The plea follows an investigation by the OLMS New Orleans District Office.
January 20th, 2011On January 20, 2011, in the United States District Court, Northern District of Ohio, Rob Rybak, former Business Manager for Plumbers Local 55 (located in Cleveland, Ohio), was sentenced to 27 months incarceration followed by two years supervised release. He was also ordered to complete 100 hours of community service and pay a $500 special assessment. On October 26, 2010, Rybak pled guilty to embezzlement from a labor union, embezzlement from an employee benefit fund, conspiracy to obstruct justice, Hobbs Act conspiracy, and tampering with a witness. The sentencing follows a joint investigation by the OLMS Cleveland District Office, FBI, and the Department of Labor’s Office of Inspector General.
October 26th, 2010On October 26, 2010, in the United States District Court, Northern District of Ohio, Robert Rybak, former Business Manager for Plumbers Local 55 (located in Cleveland, OH), pled guilty to multiple charges including embezzlement in the amount of $12,321.03, conspiracy to obstruct justice, and Hobbs Act violations. Rybak was previously indicted on multiple counts on September 14, 2010. The guilty plea follows a joint investigation by the OLMS Cleveland District Office, DOL OIG, and FBI.
December 14th, 2005On December 14, 2005, in the United States District Court for the Western District of Tennessee, Michelle Turney Thurlough, former secretary/bookkeeper for Plumbers Local 614 in Memphis, was sentenced to three years probation and ordered to make restitution in the amount of $23,172.59. This amount represents the $7,823.80 charged in the indictment as embezzled funds plus an additional $15,348.79 in auditing bills incurred by the union as a result of Thurlough's actions. Thurlough previously entered a guilty plea on September 1, 2005. The conviction follows an investigation by the OLMS Nashville District Office.
April 30th, 2003On April 30, 2003, in the United States District Court for the District of Minnesota, Joseph Biernat, Minneapolis City Councilman, was sentenced to 21 months imprisonment and two years probation. He was also ordered to make restitution of $2,700 (to be paid jointly with co-defendant Thomas Martin, former business manager of Plumbers Local 15) and pay a fine of $10,000. He was found guilty on November 21, 2002 of one count of aiding and abetting an embezzlement of $2,700 from Plumbers Local 15, three counts of mail fraud, and one count of making a false statement. The charges were brought following an investigation by the OLMS Minneapolis Resident Investigator Office and the FBI.
April 1st, 2003On April 1, 2003, in the United States District Court for the District of Minnesota, Thomas Martin, former business manager of Plumbers Local 15, was sentenced to 24 months imprisonment and three years probation. He was ordered to make restitution of $43,323 and was fined $5,000. He had pled guilty on November 25, 2002 to one count of embezzling approximately $3,175 in union funds and one count of mail fraud. The charges had been brought following an investigation by the OLMS Minneapolis Resident Investigator Office.
November 25th, 2002On November 25, 2002, in the United States District Court for the District of Minnesota, Thomas Martin, former business manager of Plumbers Local 15, pled guilty to one count of embezzling approximately $3,175 from Local 15 by using Local 15 funds to pay for plumbing work for an unnamed public official and one count of mail fraud in connection with the mailing of a Local 15 check to a contractor to pay for $2,700 in free plumbing work performed at a property owned by former Minneapolis City Councilman Joseph Biernat. Martin was named in an indictment on April 17, 2002, a superceding indictment on May 21, 2002, and a superceding indictment on October 16, 2002. Councilman Biernat was convicted of embezzlement, mail fraud, and making a false statement on November 21, 2002. The charges were brought following a joint investigation by the OLMS Minneapolis Resident Investigator Office and the FBI.
November 21st, 2002On November 21, 2002, in the United States District Court for the District of Minnesota, Joseph Biernat, Minneapolis city councilman, was found guilty on one count of aiding and abetting an embezzlement of $2,700 in the union funds of Plumbers Local 15, three counts of mail fraud, and one count of making a false statement. Biernat was acquitted on one count of extortion under color of official right and one count of conspiracy to extort under color of official right. Superceding indictments were brought against Biernat and Thomas Martin, former business manager of Plumbers Local 15, on May 21, 2002 and October 16, 2002. The charges were brought following a joint investigation by the OLMS Minneapolis Resident Investigator Office and the FBI.
August 12th, 2002On August 12, 2002, in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Arkansas, Laverdia Ann Brockman, the former bookkeeper for Plumbers Local 155 who pled guilty to one count of embezzlement, was sentenced to five years probation, including six months in home detention with electronic monitoring, assessed $100, and ordered to make full restitution of $57,938.46 ($9,400 had already been paid to the bonding company). The charges were brought following an investigation by the Dallas District Office.
June 20th, 2002On June 20, 2002, in the United States District Court for the District of Minnesota, Joseph Martin, brother of Thomas Martin, former business manager of Plumbers Local 15, pled guilty to one count of aiding and abetting an embezzlement of $9,177 in union funds. According to the plea and cooperation agreement, Joseph Martin presented bills for plumbing services and materials for work on a house he was constructing to Thomas Martin, who arranged the payment of $9,177 for Joseph Martin's plumbing work through the Local 15 Target Fund. Joseph Martin had been indicted on April 17, 2002, following a joint investigation by the OLMS Minneapolis Resident Investigator Office and the FBI.
April 25th, 2002On April 25, 2002, in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Arkansas, L. Ann Brockman, former bookkeeper for Plumbers Local 155, signed a plea agreement in which she agreed to plead guilty to one count of embezzling union funds and make full restitution of $67,338. The charges were brought following an investigation by the OLMS Dallas District Office.
March 16th, 2001On March 16, 2001, in the United States District Court for the District of Minnesota, Janet Hornsby, former office secretary/bookkeeper of Plumbers Local 6, pled guilty to one count of embezzling $54,649 in union funds. The charges had been brought following an investigation by the OLMS Minneapolis Resident Investigator Office.