Ex-SEIU Local Exec Convicted of Stealing from Low-Income Members

Paul Pringle and Hailey Branson-Potts, Los Angeles Times, January 28, 2013

A onetime rising star in national labor circles who headed California’s biggest union local was convicted Monday on federal charges that he stole tens of thousands of dollars from his low-income members.

Tyrone Freeman, who represented about 190,000 homecare workers as a leader of the Service Employees International Union, was found guilty on 14 counts after a 10-day trial in Los Angeles.

Tyrone Freeman

Tyrone Freeman

{snip} The trial followed a nearly four-year investigation triggered by a series of Times reports on Freeman’s financial practices.

“This was a case about abuse and betrayal,” U.S. Atty. André Birotte Jr. said in a statement after the verdict. “Freeman abused his position as leader of the SEIU, and he betrayed the hardworking people whose interests he was supposed to represent.”

Freeman, 43, faces a maximum of more than 180 years in prison when he returns to court for sentencing in April. {snip}

Monday’s verdict marks the end of a steep fall from grace for a man groomed for a major role in the SEIU, the 2-million-member labor juggernaut that is a dominant force in worker organizing campaigns and Democratic elections from coast to coast.

As president of SEIU Local 6434 and an affiliated chapter of homecare workers, Freeman carried significant clout in Los Angeles, Sacramento and Washington, D.C., because he commanded deep sources of campaign money and foot soldiers.

In August, he was indicted on charges of embezzling from his statewide local of mostly $9-an-hour workers and using some of the stolen money to cover costs from his Hawaiian wedding. Other charges were mail fraud, violation of tax laws and giving false information to a mortgage lender.

His wife, Pilar Planells, had earlier pleaded guilty to a tax charge in connection with more than $540,000 she received in consulting payments from the L.A.-based local while Freeman was in charge.

The government’s case against Freeman centered on an alleged scheme in which he was accused of boosting his salary by illegally directing Local 6434 money to the affiliated organization he led, California United Homecare Workers. He was charged with similarly defrauding a union-funded nonprofit group devoted to building homes for low-wage workers.

At the time, Freeman’s annual compensation was about $200,000, making him one of the higher-paid union leaders in the nation. {snip}

The investigation was conducted by the U.S. Department of Labor, FBI and Internal Revenue Service. It began after The Times reported in August 2008 that Freeman funneled hundreds of thousands of dollars of his members’ dues, and money from a related charity, to his relatives. He also spent freely on a Four Seasons Resort golf tournament, expensive restaurants and a Beverly Hills cigar club.

The scandal quickly cost Freeman his job and rippled through the SEIU, leading to the ouster of several other California officials as well as the president of the union’s biggest Michigan local.

{snip}

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  • Awhile back, AR was blessed with a couple of troll postings from someone who claimed to be a Southern California organizer for the SEIU, who duly accused us of various -isms. (Wow, man, way to bring it.) I wonder what he thinks of this.

    There are a lot of people who still hear the word “union” and think of a middle aged white man working in manufacturing and heavy industry, who must negotiate with a cigar muncher on the top floor of a high rise to have anything. In reality, “unions” today are more Tyrone Freeman and less our fathers.

    • Oil Can Harry

      And the Tyrone Freemans are the “cigar-munchers”; he belongs to a “Beverly Hills cigar club”, plays golf at luxurious resorts and dines at “expensive restaurants”.

      Then again, is he any different than Obama, Biden, the Kennedys or other Dems? They
      give Marxist/ class warfare/ soak-the-rich speeches by day and then by night party with the same jet set they were bashing while raking in the moolah.

      • Andy Stern’s resume reads like someone who a union leader must negotiate against, not a union leader himself. Which makes me wonder: Does Stern have a locker in the locker room of his country club next to that of a corporate CEO he pretends to hate in public?

        • Oil Can Harry

          The Political Left = the WWE

          Liberal pols in the US, Canada, Europe, etc. bash corporate CEOs and then hang with them later at cocktail parties.

          It’s like the hours after a wrestling show when you walk into a bar or restaurant and see pro wrestlers who supposedly want to kill each other hanging out.

    • Puggg

      cigar muncher on the top floor of a high rise

      The same person who doesn’t let anyone have anything until they turn 40 years old?

      J/K

    • Xerxes22

      Most unions are still mostly White. The SEIU is an exception. A sevice workers union, with many illegals as members and a president named Andy Stern is not the norm.

      • Fighting_Northern_Spirit

        Not in my experience. According to this link: http://tinyurl.com/83ptulw public sector unions represent 7.6 million, while private sector unions represent 7.2 million workers. While some types of public employees are predominantly White (e.g. firefighters), a huge number are non-White.

        • I don’t think Xerxes got my point. I’m sure unions qua unions are still majority white, they aren’t white in terms of middle aged white men working in manufacturing and heavy industry.

  • Svigor

    Bunk Moreland!

  • bigone4u

    Whazz be wrong wit yall racisss whites? Dat money be reparations.

  • The__Bobster

    That toilet-scrubbers’ union has to be the dirtiest one in the nation…..and they will benefit the most from Obongocare.

  • bigone4u

    Since the moderator didn’t like my original comment (which I’m cool with), I’ll try making it more politely. The entitlement mentality of some groups makes it easy for an individual member of that group to justify stealing. In the black community this has led some to call for reparations for slavery, for example. It’s entirely possible that in Mr. Freeman’s mind, he was within his rights to steal because as a black man he was owed something.
    This entitlement mentality, which has spread to other groups, including white youth, is dangerous to the economic glue that holds the country together.

  • Ulick

    The refrain among blacks is always “whites do it to”. Like crime rates they fail to understand frequency. Can anybody honestly say that blacks in leadership positions don’t defraud and embezzle at a far higher rate than other officials? We had Nagin from New Orleans last week. Kirkpatrick from Detroit was also back in the news. Mayor Gray in DC is being investigated. It’s practically endemic.

  • Howard W. Campbell

    I would imagine that he will be treated like a rock star in the joint. He did stick it to the man, or to be more precise the Señor & Señora.

  • Shattered

    “Tyrone” should have been enough to send up a red flag.

  • joesolargenius

    I have pictures of the communist party ,pro amnesty groups ,the homosexual left and SEIU leaders marching in a labor day parade together taking turns holding up each others signs !
    Do you get the picture now ?