Tuesday, July 31, 2012

SEIU's Tyrone Freeman Is Indicted on 15 Counts

SEIU's Tyrone Freeman

A federal grand jury has indicted SEIU's Tyrone Freeman on 15 counts that could produce a maximum prison sentence of 200 years. Freeman was the president of two SEIU local unions in California, a Vice President of SEIU's International Executive Board, and is a close ally of SEIU President Emeritus Andy Stern and SEIU President Mary Kay Henry.

In a three-page press release issued late this afternoon, the U.S. Attorney's Office announced that a federal grand jury indicted Freeman on...
"four counts of mail fraud, seven counts of embezzlement and/or theft of labor union assets, one count of making false statement to a federally insured financial institution, and three counts of subscribing to a false tax return." 
According to the press release, "Freeman has agreed to appear for arraignment in United States District Court on September 24."

Also late this afternoon, the Los Angeles Times published this article on the indictment. Here are some excerpts:
On Tuesday, however, Freeman was indicted on federal charges of stealing from those workers to enrich himself, including by billing the union for costs from his Hawaii wedding.

The 15-count indictment secured by the U.S. attorney’s office in Los Angeles also alleges that Freeman violated tax laws and gave false information to a mortgage lender. If convicted on all counts, he could face maximum prison sentences in excess of 200 years.

The charges resulted from a nearly four-year investigation by the U.S. Labor Department, FBI and Internal Revenue Service that grew out of a series of  reports in the Los Angeles Times on Freeman’s financial dealings as president of SEIU Local 6434. The resulting scandal spread through the 2-million-member SEIU and cost several other union officials their jobs...

Abel Salinas, the Labor Department’s special agent in charge in L.A., said the indictment of Freeman demonstrates the government’s “commitment to investigating allegations of labor racketeering in our nation’s unions.”

U.S. attorney spokesman Thom Mrozek would not comment on whether Freeman could face more charges. Mrozek said the investigation was ongoing.

Sources close to the case said the indictment contains the most clear-cut allegations, but if Freeman is convicted, prosecutors could present at a sentencing hearing information about his use of other union funds.

Still pending in state court is a civil lawsuit the union filed against Freeman and his wife, Pilar Planells, that seeks to recover more than $1.1 million they allegedly pilfered. The money allegedly financed Freeman's lifestyle of $175 glasses of cognac, $250 bottles of wine and a $3,400 trip to the NFL Pro Bowl.
Under Freeman, Local 6434 grew dramatically, largely because of a consolidation campaign spearheaded by SEIU’s then-president, Andy Stern, who had nurtured Freeman’s rise in the union.

   Here's the full article at the Los Angeles Times.