May 22, 2009: Ex-officials of Chicago Local 743 may go to jail for a scheme to steal local union elections.
A Chicago jury has found former Local 743 President Richard Lopez and two other ex-officials guilty of a scheme to steal Local 743 elections. Three other officials already pled guilty.
Lopez was found guilty of conspiracy, mail fraud, and stealing union property.
Lopez and former union reps Thaddeus Bania and David Rodriguez will face sentencing in August. They could go to jail for many years.
“We are elated that the workers ended up on the victorious side of this verdict,” said the new Local 743 President Richard Berg, a reformer who won office in 2007.
“The U.S. Department of Labor had the evidence needed to convict them. Now we are anxiously waiting for the financial reparation of the $2.2 million that was taken from the hard working members of this union.”
The jury heard outrageous stories of how Local 743’s ex-officials treated the union like their private business, and schemed to steal the election when they were challenged by working members:
- Officials secretly changed the addresses of members, and diverted ballots to friends, relatives, employers—and even one union rep’s wedding guest list.
- Investigators found Rodriguez’s fingerprints on sealed ballots from the 2004 local union election. Rodriguez couldn’t explain how they got there.
- Rodriguez operated a private cleaning firm that cleaned the local union hall and the home of ex-president Robert Walston. One of his cleaning employees testified that Rodriguez told her ballots for the election would arrive at her house.
Their scheme didn’t work. With the help of Teamsters for a Democratic Union, members of Local 743 exposed the plot to steal their election. And in October 2007, Richard Berg and the New Leadership Slate swept the criminals out of office for good.
Are you concerned about getting an honest election in your local? Call TDU at (313) 842-2600 to get advice on how to protect your right to vote.