In a sweeping indictment handed down on Tuesday, federal prosecutors charged the former president of the Service Employees International Union’s largest California local with multiple counts of mail fraud, embezzlement, and other crimes in a broad scheme to enrich himself and his relatives.
Tyrone Ricky Freeman, who headed the United Long-Term Care Workers, stands accused of misappropriating more than 1.1 million in union dues – money that allegedly financed his lifestyle of $175 cognac, $250 bottles of wine, and a $3,400 trip to the NFL Pro Bowl in Hawaii.
The 15-count indictment also includes allegations that he violated tax laws, gave false information to a mortgage lender, and billed his Hawaiian wedding to the SEIU.
Most of the SEIU local’s 160,000 members care for the elderly or infirm and earn about $9 an hour.
This is the same SEIU that recently sent their janitors on strike in Houston and excoriated Jamie Dimon for making too much money while the people cleaning his buildings live on poverty wages.
No word from JP Morgan Chase on whether they are considering replacing Mr. Dimon with a janitor, or whether the SEIU and its Justice for Janitors will also be demanding positions as anesthesiologists, particle physicists, and NASA engineers.
In a related civil complaint filed in Los Angeles Superior Court against Mr. Freeman, his wife, Pilar Planells, is named as a co-defendant.
The suit contends that Freeman directed at least $755,000 to his wife’s video enterprise, Lotus Stevens Productions, and that he had access to the funds after they were transferred.
It further alleges that Freeman arranged for expenditures of more than $300,000 for a voter registration program known as the 2M+ Project. Some of that money went to a video firm called The Filming Co., which in turn made payments to Lotus Stevens.
Other allegations are that Freeman had the local pay about $16,000 for his wife’s medical benefits when she was not entitled to them and that he got “kickbacks” from his mother-in-law’s daycare company worth tens of thousands of dollars.
Freeman also spent hundreds of thousands of dollars on a luxury golf tournament, $9,800 at the Grand Havana Room, a Beverly Hills cigar lounge, and $16,000 to a now-defunct minor league basketball team coached by his brother-in-law.
Too bad that more of the SEIU members were not related to Freeman, as a certified nurse’s assistant would undoubtedly appreciate a five-star restaurant and a golf resort as much as Freeman and his cronies.
Freeman, a one-time protégé of SEIU president Andy Stern, had been a rising star in labor and Democratic political circles.
In September of 2010, Alejandro Stephens, the former head of SEIU local 660 in Los Angeles, was sentenced to prison after a plea bargain in which he admitted to mail fraud, tax evasion, and defrauding a non-profit to launch his union reelection campaign.