Tyrone Ricky Freeman, the former president of Service Employees International Union locals 6434 and 434-B, was convicted Monday on federal charges of embezzling tens of thousands of dollars from the union that represents home healthcare workers. "This was a case about abuse and betrayal,” said U.S. Attorney André Birotte Jr. of Los Angeles. “Freeman abused his position as leader of the SEIU, and he betrayed the hardworking people whose interests he was supposed to represent." The scam began to fall apart for Freeman in 2008 when the Los Angeles Times' Paul Pringle reported on the big-spending ways of a rising, and politically connected, local labor star. By the end of that year, Freeman had been banned for life by the SEIU. Last year he was indicted by a federal grand jury.
From the feds' release today:
Freeman, 43, who is currently residing in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, was found guilty of four counts of mail fraud, seven counts of embezzlement and/or theft of labor union assets, one count of making a false statement to a federally insured financial institution, and two counts of subscribing to a false tax return.
The evidence presented during a 10-day jury trial showed that Freeman pilfered money from SEIU Locals 6434 and 434-B by diverting reimbursement payments from a public-sector union that had close ties to the SEIU locals. Freeman collected $2,500 per month from Local 6434 and the California United Homecare Workers (CUHW), which was established in 2005 by SEIU and the American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees to represent public sector employees working in the homecare industry in California. From the beginning of 2007 through the summer of 2008, Freeman concealed from the Local 6434 Executive Board and the CUHW Executive Board that he was receiving payments of $2,500 per month in addition to the regular salary that he received from Local 6434.
Freeman also used a Local 434-B credit card to pay $8,105 in personal expenses he incurred during a 2006 trip to Honolulu, Hawaii, which included expenses related to Freeman’s wedding ceremony.
Freeman also stole money from Local 6434 by routing funds through another entity closely aligned with the union – the Long Term Care Housing Corporation (LTCHC), which was a not-for-profit corporation organized in 2004 for the purpose of developing affordable housing for members of Locals 6434 and Local 434-B. The indictment alleges that Freeman took nearly $17,000 from Local 6434 in June 2008 by requesting the Local 6434 Executive Board to make payments to LTCHC without disclosing to the Executive Board that Freeman would then divert those funds to himself.
The false statement charges relate to lies that Freeman told to Countrywide Bank when he told a bank representative that Local 6434 paid for his personal American Express credit card debt and the monthly lease payments for his Land Rover.
Freeman was also found guilty of subscribing to false tax returns in 2006 and 2007 when he failed to report approximately $63,000 in income he received during those tax years.
Freeman is scheduled to be sentenced by United States District Judge Audrey B. Collins on April 22.