– SPENCER AND CAPELLI "ALLEGATIONS OF SELF DEALING AND CORRUPTION" U...
In Reply To
"The U.S. Attorney’s Office in New Jersey as well as the U.S. Department of Labor have been investigating, and that a grand jury has been impaneled in Newark"
"Spencer, one of the defendants, was recently promoted to the Carpenters’ general vice president"
RUMOR HAS IT SPENCER HAS RETAINED THE UBC LAW FIRM OF WILLIAMS AND CONNOLLY.HEY FRANKY. LANDY CANT SAVE YOU
RUMOR HAS IT CAPELLI IS LAWYERING UP AS WELL. HEY CAPELLI MAKE SOME MORE SPEECHES ABOUT FRAUD
PAY ATTENTION BOYS AND GIRLS. MAKE SURE YOUR DUES ARE NOT PAYING THEIR LEGAL FEES
Sources: Feds probing claims in whistleblower lawsuit against Carpenters union
By MATT FRIEDMAN and RYAN HUTCHINS
04/26/2019 06:11 AM EDT
Federal authorities are investigating allegations of “self-dealing and corruption” that rocked a New Jersey-based subsidiary of the United Brotherhood of Carpenters and ultimately resulted in a whistleblower lawsuit from a top union official who said he was fired for raising the issues, two sources with knowledge of the investigation told POLITICO.
One of the sources said the U.S. Attorney’s Office in New Jersey as well as the U.S. Department of Labor have been investigating, and that a grand jury has been impaneled in Newark. The other source said they had spoken with a person who had been interviewed by the FBI about the allegations.
Both sources spoke on the condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the matter.
News of the investigation comes after the union dissolved the Northeast Regional Council of Carpenters — a local subsidiary — allegedly to fire John Ballantyne, who was the executive secretary-treasurer. Ballantyne said in his whistleblower lawsuit that he met with investigators from the Department of Justice, U.S. DOL, IRS and Port Authority of New York and New Jersey.
Ballantyne and the union settled the lawsuit just months after he filed it. Terms of the settlement were not disclosed.
The two sources with knowledge of the matter said investigators have more recently been asking about the allegations contained in Ballantyne’s lawsuit. But a different source close to the union, who was not authorized to speak publicly, said the union itself is not the target of the federal probe and that a grand jury investigation regarding pension funds began well before Ballantyne’s lawsuit was filed.
Matt Reilly, a spokesperson for the U.S. Attorney’s Office, said it’s the policy of the office to “neither confirm nor deny the existence of any investigation.”
Ballantyne — an ally of Gov. Phil Murphy — along with two other former union employees made a number of allegations in the lawsuit, ranging from payments to family members of a union official for no-show jobs, a “ghost” consulting contract worth $402,000 per year, hidden raises and six-figure “overpayments” into two of the defendants’ annuity funds.
Prior to filing the lawsuit, Ballantyne saw to the firing of George F. Laufenberg from his position overseeing the union’s pension fund because of "potential violations" of federal securities law. The fund Laufenberg worked for was related to, but technically independent from, the union.
Ballantyne claimed in the lawsuit that defendants Frank Spencer, then the Carpenters’ second general vice president, and Michael Capelli, the eastern district vice president, wanted to deal with the Laufenberg issue “in house” and were upset about his firing. Laufenberg is also former Port Authority commissioner.
(In addition to the union, Spencer and Capelli, Ballantyne named Douglas McCarron, the international union’s general president, as a defendant.)
Ballantyne also claimed, according to the lawsuit, that Capelli blocked him from examining contracts for Tricia Mueller, a former political director of the Northeast Council, who made $33,500 per month from consulting contracts with two different union councils.
Mueller, who did not respond to a request for comment, disputed those claims when POLITICO first wrote about the lawsuit last October, saying Ballantyne had “repeatedly praised the quality of my work“ and that his claims were “made without his having access to documents, facts, and memos that would allow him to form an informed judgment about the quality of my work.”
Ballantyne’s firing in May 2018 was initially seen as a proxy war between Murphy and South Jersey power broker George Norcross, both of whom have had ties to the union.
Lizette Delgado-Polanco, the Murphy-appointed CEO of the state Schools Development Authority who resigned this week amid a patronage scandal, was also a top ranking official with the Carpenters union before joining the Murphy administration.
Mueller is the former treasurer of General Majority, a Norcross-linked super PAC. The PAC received hundreds of thousands of dollars from the Northeast Regional Council of Carpenters’ fundraising arm, Carpenters for Growth and Progress, which also spent hundreds of thousands of dollars on the effort to reelect Senate President Steve Sweeney in 2017.
Spencer, one of the defendants, was recently promoted to the Carpenters’ general vice president. He quietly resigned from the New Jersey Casino Reinvestment Development Authority in March, citing his increased responsibilities with the union.
SPENCER AND CAPELLI "ALLEGATIONS OF SELF DEALING AND CORRUPTION" UNDER INVESTIGATION BY THE FEDS