Union Boss Pleads Guilty On Forcing Kickbacks From Union Staff

A former union boss pled guilty to forcing, under the threat of firing, business agents and union employees to pay kickbacks, which he then spent on booze and his daughter’s wedding.

The business manager of an International Union of Operating Engineers local in Michigan has pled guilty to forcing lower-ranking union officials and staff to pay up to $5,000 from their salaries into a union election fund, which he then “blew on booze, meals and his daughter’s wedding,” according to the Detroit News.

The former head of Operating Engineers Local 324 struck a plea deal with federal prosecutors Friday, admitting he forced union workers and officials to pay kickbacks that he blew on booze, meals and his daughter’s wedding.

John Hamilton, 62, of Rivera Beach, Florida, reached the plea deal three weeks before he was scheduled to stand trial in federal court. Hamilton faces up to five years in federal prison and has agreed to pay $250,000 restitution to victims of the crime, prosecutors said Friday.

Hamilton fired one union business agent who complained and threatened to fire others, reports the Detroit News. Additionally, “Hamilton pocketed $71,000 from the fund and gave more than $70,000 to two union officials.”

Hamilton will be sentenced January 16.

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