9/18/08

Low-wage care givers ripped off by SEIU bigs

Related stories - SEIU: hereAndy Stern: hereTyrone Freeman: here

Union members' dues were embezzled by Andy Stern's protege

The head of a major local has been accused by the Service Employees International Union of misappropriating hundreds of thousands of dollars in a corruption scheme, according to an internal union audit.

The audit of the SEIU's largest California local—United Long-Term Care Workers—contains new allegations that its president, Tyrone Freeman, spent union funds on a wedding in Hawaii and paid himself stipends through a housing corporation and another local.

The audit's findings were reported in the Los Angeles Times on Wednesday.

Freeman went on paid leave last month following criticism about the local's spending practices. The union represents 160,000 low-wage caregivers.

Freeman has previously denied any wrongdoing. A message left for his attorney Wednesday by the Times was not immediately returned, and The Associated Press could not reach an attorney for comment early Thursday.

In the review led by former state Atty. Gen. John Van de Kamp, the union found Freeman directed payments of more than $650,000 to a home-based video firm owned by his wife, Pilar Planells.

The report says the payments could not be justified because Planells only worked part-time to produce promotional videos.

Freeman is also accused of directing an affiliated local—the 30,000-member California United Homecare Workers—and a housing firm to pay him about $2,500 a month each.

The report also alleges Freeman billed the union for $8,100 in dining, spa services and hotel rooms at an Oahu Marriott during his 2006 wedding in Hawaii. The union says Freeman falsely claimed that the expenses were for a management program at the University of Hawaii.

(mercurynews.co)

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