July 28, 2014

Union officer charged in alleged bribery

A BLET special representative was charged by the U.S. Justice Department March 8 in a continuing investigation into alleged corruption involving bribery.

Thomas E. Miller, 64, of Dunlap, Tenn., was charged in a “criminal information” with one count of conspiracy to commit bribery in federally funded programs, according to Steven M Dettelbach, the U.S. attorney for the Northern District of Ohio.

The “criminal information” filed by Dettelbach charges that Miller, while serving as a special representative of the BLET, “took bribes from an attorney seeking to represent injured union members.”

Said Dettelbach in a press release:

“The information charges that Robert L “Pete” McKinney, 59, a Houston plaintiff’s personal injury attorney specializing in representing injured railroad workers, paid the bribes to Miller and Edward W Rodzwicz, [former] national president of the BLET. Labor union corruption will not be tolerated and should be a thing of the past,” Dettelbach said.

In January, Dettelbach charged McKinney with one count of conspiracy to commit bribery in federally funded programs. Dettelbach alleged at the time that “McKinney delivered large cash payments” to a BLET official then identified as “Official No. 1.” Dettelbach alleged that Rodzwicz and BLET Official No. 1 “would then split the cash payments.”

 Rodzwicz, formerly of Avon, Ohio, is currently in federal prison for his role in an unrelated crime.

A “criminal information” is only a charge and is not evidence of guilt, Dettelbach said. “A defendant is entitled to a fair trial in which it will be the government’s burden to prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.”

Said James Vanderberg, special agent in charge for the Chicago Regional Office of the U.S. Labor Department:

“Today’s action highlights the efforts of the Office Inspector General to identify and bring to justice a union official who allegedly solicited and accepted bribes from an attorney seeking access to the union. The union official’s actions represent a betrayal of the trust placed in him by the union members.

“As national president, Rodzwicz had authority over the designation status of designated legal counsel attorneys.

“From in or about June 2006, and continuing until in or about October 2009, Miller conspired with McKinney and Rodzwicz to unjustly enrich himself and Edward W Rodzwicz by receiving cash bribes in exchange for placing McKinney on the designated legal counsel list for BLET workers and to have BLET workers directed to his firm, according to the information. The conspirators referred to these payments as ‘campaign contributions’ in an effort to conceal the true nature of the payments.”