In New Jersey, ex-IBEW union boss, Business Manager Richard “Buzzy” Dressel is on trial, accused of embezzling more than $350,000 from Local 164 and its apprentice program to enrich the woman who later became his wife.
Dressel’s co-defendant, John M. DeBouter, was the local former president, is on voluntary leave from his post as director of training.
According to NorthJersey.com, what began as a program to counter alcohol abuse in the local, turned into quite a lucrative gig for Kathleen Libonati who went from caterer to girlfriend to wife of IBEW Business Manager Dressel.
In March 2008, the indictment alleges, Dressel and DeBouter instituted a “captive lunch program” to purportedly counteract an alcohol-abuse problem among apprentices taking classes at the local’s campus.
Libonati’s Ship to Shore catering business was hired and paid about $60,000 annually to provide meals four days a week to about 40 trainees. At the same time, Dressel also hired Libonati as a $1,000-per-week member of his office staff, plus 50 percent in fringe benefits for health, pension and annuity funds.
In 2009, Libonati was given a $31,000 raise and assigned the part-time job of managing the union’s office building. The indictment alleges that through March 2010, Libonati was paid $145,973 in salary and fringe benefits by the local for “office staff duties which she failed to perform, and for which she provided no legitimate benefit to the union or its members.”
In a separate count, Dressel and DeBouter are accused of conspiring from March 2010 to October 2012 to embezzle funds from the apprentice program to pay Libonati more than $200,000 “for which she performed no genuine service to the JATF [the apprentice program], or its participants.”