Local 6434 President Also Ordered to Pay Full Restitution in Connection to Charges of Self-Dealing and Misappropriation of Member Dues
WASHINGTON, DC-- Service Employees International Union President Andy Stern today permanently banned Local 6434 President Tyrone Freeman from holding membership, a staff position or office in the Union following evidence that the Los Angeles leader misused member funds. After reviewing outside hearing officer and former California Supreme Court Justice Joseph Grodin's report finding that Freeman had engaged in a pattern of financial malpractice and self-dealing in violation of the SEIU Constitution and local bylaws, Stern also ordered Freeman to make full restitution to the members of Local 6434--a sum of more than $1.1 million.
"Today's decision sends a clear message across our Union," said SEIU President Andy Stern. "We are all accountable. Our members do some of the toughest jobs anywhere, and we will not tolerate any actions violating their trust or putting their interests at risk. On a personal note, I agree with Justice Grodin that it is tragic and unconscionable that a young leader with such great potential would violate not only the Constitution of the International Union, but the trust of his members."
In his decision, Stern ordered Freeman to return all misappropriated funds and to permanently relinquish all positions he currently holds in Local 6434, including the presidency and his membership.
The lifetime membership ban is the most severe penalty the Union can impose.
SEIU will continue to cooperate fully in ongoing Federal and state investigations of the Local. In light of these ongoing outside investigations, SEIU will permit Freeman the opportunity to appeal to the International Executive Board for a modification of the penalties if he is exonerated or other circumstances arise that would warrant a less severe penalty. This exception neither affects the finality of today's ruling nor the Union's need to implement the full terms of this penalty immediately.
SEIU assumed trusteeship over Local 6434 on August 22 in response to reports that Freeman improperly benefited from transactions involving member funds. The Union appointed John Ronches to serve as Trustee with full oversight of all Local affairs. California Attorney General John Van de Kamp, a nationally recognized legal expert and former federal prosecutor, assisted the trustee in the International's investigation of the Local and the filing of charges against Freeman.
In September, SEIU filed seven separate charges against Freeman involving improper payments to a company owned by Freeman's wife, improper expenses relating to his 2006 wedding, the misuse of non-profit funds to benefit Freeman and his family members, the improper expenditure of union funds on a private cigar club membership, and violations of procedural and democratic safeguards.
Last month, Justice Grodin held a two-day hearing to take testimony and review evidence in the case.