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Member claims takeover of Nevada union a ‘criminal coverup

Updated September 26, 2017 - 7:40 pm

Service Employees International Union is a “criminal syndicate,” according to a local member suing the association in federal court.

Raymond Garcia made the allegation this month as part of claims he hopes to add to an ongoing lawsuit against the parent union. Garcia is seeking more than $10 million in damages in a case filed with the U.S. District Court in Las Vegas.

The Dignity Health-St. Rose Dominican hospitals employee and union steward first sued SEIU International in May attempting to reverse a takeover of the union’s Nevada chapter the previous month. Garcia now alleges that SEIU International executives and staff are using Local 1107 in Nevada as part of a money laundering scheme that has lasted more than a decade.

SEIU International spokesman Dan O’Sullivan declined to comment on the allegations, which include fraud, racketeering, embezzlement, legal malpractice, bribery, coercion and civil conspiracy, according to court filings.

Garcia’s attorney, Michael Mcavoyamaya, said the takeover was done in order to continue funneling money through Local 1107 to pay SEIU International board members and influence union elections. He also claims local union funds were inappropriately used to pay attorneys representing SEIU’s health care workers in California.

“It’s not about fixing the local union,” Mcavoyamaya said about the SEIU 1107 takeover. “It’s not about helping the members. It’s about maintaining power and control over the local union and its money.”

SEIU International Glenn Rothner returned fire in a court filing last week, labeling the allegations as “factually-unmoored conspiracy,” “far-fetched and unexplained.”

“This is a pleadings stunt to protract these proceedings and disadvantage Defendants that should not be condoned,” Rothner wrote.

Local 1107 represents close to 18,000 government employees and private healthcare workers in Nevada.

Other lawsuits

In his filing, Garcia claims SEIU International has been laundering money through Local 1107 since at least 2005.

Mcavoyamaya said he formed the theory after reviewing the union’s public financial statements, and Garcia has requested increasing the number of defendants in the case from five to 23.

If approved, the new defendants would include several SEIU International executives, former SEIU International President Andrew Stern, former SEIU 1107 President Al Martinez, Local 1107 attorney Mike Urban, Rothner and his law firm.

“We named them because they are liable for the conduct that went on,” Mcavoyamaya said. “I think the people responsible are the ones who should be punished.”

The court has not scheduled a hearing to consider the new claims and the addition of defendants.

Allegations

Mcavoyamaya is also trying to wrestle control of SEIU 1107 away from its parent union through another lawsuit filed in the Las Vegas federal court.

Former SEIU 1107 President Cherie Mancini, who was ousted by SEIU International in April following months of infighting by local union board members, is seeking to be reinstated.

The court has not ruled whether a preliminary injunction will be granted in the case.

Contact Michael Scott Davidson at sdavidson@reviewjournal.com or 702-477-3861. Follow @davidsonlvrj on Twitter.

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