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Plumbers

criminal charges

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
March 10th, 2016On March 10, 2016, in the Suffolk County Superior Court in Boston, Massachusetts, Esther LaFontant, former bookkeeper of Plumbers Local 12 (located in Boston, Mass.), was charged with three counts of larceny over $250, in violation of Massachusetts General Law (MGL) Chapter 266, Section 30, totaling approximately $155,000. LaFontant was also charged with falsifying entries in corporate books, in violation of MGL Chapter 266, Section 67. The charges follow an investigation by the OLMS Boston-Buffalo District Office and the Massachusetts State Police.
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.
April 8th, 2013On April 8, 2013, in the United States District Court for the Northern District of California, San Jose Division, Barbara Ellen Holland, a former bookkeeper/secretary of Plumbers Local 62 (located in Castroville, Calif.), was charged in a one-count information with false entry in or willful concealment of books and records (Class A misdemeanor), in violation of 29 U.S.C. 439(c). The charge follows an investigation by the OLMS San Francisco 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.
December 1st, 2011On December 1, 2011, in the United States District Court for the District of Rhode Island, an information and plea agreement were filed against Kenneth Aurecchia, Plumbers International Vice President and former business manager of Plumbers Local 51 (located in East Providence, R.I.), charging him with one count of Wire Fraud totaling $107,514, in violation of 18 U.S.C. 1343, and one count of Making and Subscribing a False Return totaling $17,886, in violation of 26 U.S.C. 7206. The charges and plea follow an investigation by the OLMS Boston District Office, the Department of Labor’s Office of Inspector General, and the Treasury Department’s Criminal Investigative Division.
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
January 13th, 2011On January 13, 2011, in the United States District Court for the Western District of Michigan, an information was filed charging April Franklin, former office secretary of Plumbers Local 333 (located in Lansing, Mich.) and former bookkeeper for Local 333's Joint Apprenticeship Training Fund, with one count of embezzlement of union funds in the amount of $40,886 and one count of theft from an employee benefit plan totaling $234,331.33. The charges follow an investigation by the OLMS Detroit District Office, the Department of Labor’s Office of Inspector General, and the Employee Benefits Security Administration.
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.
April 9th, 2009On April 9, 2009, in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of California, Robert L. Carr, Business Manager of Plumbers Local 228 (located in Yuba City, Calif.), and his wife Theresa A. Carr, were charged with conspiracy, aiding and abetting, and the embezzlement of over $45,000 in union funds, from at least January 2000 through March 2007. The charges follow an investigation by the OLMS San Francisco District Office and 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.
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.
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.
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.
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 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.
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.
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.