Tuesday, October 8, 2013

More Details on Sentencing of SEIU's Tyrone Freeman

Tyrone Freeman and David Holway

Press reports are offering more details about a federal judge's sentencing of SEIU's Tyrone Freeman to 33 months in prison.

Freeman, who was a top ally of SEIU's Andy Stern and Mary Kay Henry, served as a Vice President on SEIU's International Executive Board and was the president of SEIU Local 6434 in California.

The Los Angeles Times provides interesting reporting from inside the court room. Here are multiple excerpts from a piece entitled "Former SEIU Local Leader Gets 33 Months in Prison:"

Before Collins imposed the sentence, Freeman stood before the judge and cried as he asked for leniency, acknowledging that his "bad decisions" hurt the workers and his family.

"May God have mercy on me," said Freeman, 44, wearing a dark business suit. "I am accountable for these bad decisions."

On Monday, prosecutors said they believed the sentence for Freeman was fair, although they had asked for a prison term of more than three years. "He abused some of the poorest working-class members of this community," Assistant U.S. Atty. Elisa Fernandez said.

A rival union whose leaders left the SEIU after resisting efforts to shift some of their members to Freeman's local welcomed Monday's sentence. "People in SEIU's leadership knew there was something wrong in the local for years and did nothing about it," said John Borsos, secretary-treasurer of the National Union of Healthcare Workers.

SEIU Local 6434 and the union's national office did not respond to requests for comment.

In arguing for a lighter punishment, Freeman's attorneys said their client had devoted much of his life to helping others and caring for his family. Prosecutors responded to that portrayal by pointing to a slew of wrongdoing Freeman is accused of having committed — including bigamy and having sexual affairs with union staff members — beyond the offenses for which he was convicted in January.

Last year, his wife, Pilar Planells, pleaded guilty to an income tax charge in connection with more than $540,000 she had received in consulting payments from the union while Freeman was president. To avoid prison, she agreed to pay about $130,000 in back taxes, interest and penalties, according to court records.

The judge ordered Freeman to surrender to authorities on December 9 to begin his sentence. Meanwhile, many observers -- including the former president of an SEIU local union -- are calling on the feds to pursue the SEIU officials who apparently aided and abetted Freeman in conducting his crime spree.

Here are links to some of the press coverage. More to follow: