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Union Facts

Plumbers

Indictments

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
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.
August 12th, 2015On August 12, 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), was indicted for one count of embezzlement in the amount of $13,906, in violation of 29 U.S.C. 501(c), and two counts of falsification of union records, in violation of 29 U.S.C. 439(c). The charges follow an investigation by the OLMS Cincinnati-Cleveland District Office.
August 18th, 2011On August 18, 2011, in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of California, Robert L. Carr, former Financial Secretary-Treasurer of the United Association of Plumbers and Pipefitters Local 228 (located in Yuba City, Calif.), and his wife Theresa Carr were charged in a superseding indictment with three additional counts of embezzlement and the conspiracy to embezzle union funds in the amount of $13,497, in violation of 29 U.S.C. 501(c), 18 U.S.C. 2, and 18 U.S.C. 371. With the initial indictment that was filed on April 9, 2009, charges total $59,157. The indictment follows an investigation by the OLMS San Francisco District Office and the Department of Labor’s Office of Inspector General.
July 1st, 2011On July 1, 2011, in the Franklin County Court within the State of Ohio, Helen Stupka, former office secretary for the Plumbers State Association (located in Columbus, Ohio), was indicted on one count of theft exceeding $5,000. The charge follows an investigation by the OLMS Cleveland District Office.
March 21st, 2011On March 21, 2011, in United States District Court for the Butte Division of the Montana District, Teresa M. Wilson, former office manager for Plumbers Local 41 (located in Butte, Mont.), was indicted on one count of Labor Union Embezzlement (29 U.S.C. 501(c)), one count of Bank Fraud (18 U.S.C. 1344), and one count of Aggravated Identity Theft (18 U.S.C. 1028A(a)(1)). The charges follow an investigation by the OLMS Denver District Office
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.
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.
September 14th, 2010On September 14, 2010, in United States District Court for the Northern District of Ohio, Robert W. Rybak, Business Manager and Financial Secretary of Plumbers Local 55 (located in Cleveland, Ohio), was indicted on conspiracy to obstruct justice, conspiracy under the Hobbs Act, embezzlement or theft from a labor union, embezzlement or theft from an employee benefit fund, and tampering with a witness. The indictment follows an investigation by the OLMS Cleveland District Office, Department of Labor’s Office of Inspector General and the FBI.
August 18th, 2010On August 18, 2010, in the United States District Court for the Southern District of Mississippi, Mechelle Busse, aka Mechelle Singleton, former office manager of Plumbers and Pipefitters Local 568 (located in Gulfport, Miss.), was indicted on one count of embezzling union funds in the amount of $110,117.69 between June 2005 and December 2007. The indictment follows an investigation by the OLMS New Orleans District Office.
April 28th, 2009On April 28, 2009, in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Texas, William I. Brown, former Business Manager of Plumbers Local 237 (formerly located in Texarkana, Texas), was sentenced to five years probation and ordered to pay $100 mandatory special assessment and remaining restitution in the amount of $4,942. On April 3, 2007, Brown was indicted on eight counts of embezzling union and apprenticeship funds totaling over $86,500. The sentencing follows an investigation by OLMS Dallas District Office, EBSA Dallas District Office, and the Department of Labor’s Office of Inspector General.
April 3rd, 2007On April 3, 2007, in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Texas, William I. Brown, former Business Manager of Plumbers Local 237 in Texarkana, Texas, was indicted on eight counts of embezzling union and apprenticeship funds totaling over $86,500. The indictment follows a joint investigation by the OLMS Dallas District Office, the Dallas Regional Office of the Department of Labor’s Employment Benefit Securities Administration and the Dallas Office of the Department of Labor’s Office of Inspector General.
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.
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.
October 16th, 2002On October 16, 2002, in the United States District Court for the District of Minnesota, a second superceding indictment was returned against Thomas Martin, former business manager of Plumbers Local 15, and Joseph Biernat, Minneapolis city councilman. The latest superceding indictment contained the same thirteen counts against Mr. Martin and seven counts against Mr. Biernat included in the May 21, 2002 superceding indictment. It added one additional count of mail fraud against both Mr. Martin and Mr. Biernat involving an individual tax return mailed to the Internal Revenue Service. The charges were brought following a joint investigation by the OLMS Minneapolis Resident Investigator Office and the FBI.
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.
May 21st, 2002On May 21, 2002, in the United States District Court for the District of Minnesota a superceding indictment was returned against Thomas Martin, former business manager of Plumbers Local 15, and Joseph Biernat, Minneapolis city councilman. The superceding indictment contained the same five counts against Thomas Martin and five counts against Joseph Biernat that were in the original April 17, 2002 indictment. It added two additional counts of mail fraud against both Joseph Biernat and Thomas Martin, and added three additional counts of embezzling a total of $25,446 in union funds, one count of obstruction of justice concerning an OLMS investigation, and one count of concealing a material fact from OLMS against Thomas Martin. The charges were brought following a joint investigation by the OLMS Minneapolis Resident Investigator Office and the FBI.
April 17th, 2002On April 17, 2002, in the United States District Court for the District of Minnesota, Thomas Martin, former business manager of Plumbers Local 15, and Joseph Biernat, Minneapolis city councilman, were indicted on one count of conspiracy to extort under color of official right in violation of 18 U.S.C. 1951 (Hobbs Act), one count of embezzling $2,700 in union funds, and one count of mail fraud. Thomas Martin was further indicted on two counts of embezzling $15,177 in union funds, and Joseph Biernat was further indicted on one count of extortion under color of official right in violation of 18 U.S.C. 1951 and one count of making a false statement. Also indicted was Joseph Martin, Thomas Martin's brother, on one count of aiding and abetting an embezzlement of $9,177 in union funds. The charges were brought following a joint investigation by the OLMS Minneapolis Resident Investigator Office and the FBI.
February 5th, 2002On February 5, 2002, in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Arkansas, L. Ann Brockman, former office secretary for Plumbers Local 665, was indicted on 26 counts of embezzling $11,621 in union funds. The charges were brought following an investigation by the OLMS Dallas District Office.