City Hall workers accused of improperly receiving nearly $65,000 in union funds resisted holding elections and refused to turn over bank documents to union officials, according to a decision obtained by the Pasadena Weekly.
Up to this point, the five employees, members of the Association of Federal, State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) Local 858, are not being accused of any malfeasance involving city funds, nor are they under investigation by local law enforcement. However, three of the workers have been suspended pending the results of an investigation recently launched by City Manager Steve Mermell, and two no longer work for the city
According to a decision by Richard Abelson, chair of AFSCME’s Judicial Panel, Local 858 Vice President Anthony Hackett, former President Marchell Parker, Secretary-Treasurer Sherene Young, Recording Secretary Lorenzo Spencer and Executive Board member Andre Hunter received $64,700 in money transfers and checks from Local 858 that they claimed was used to pay for expenses associated with a convention in Las Vegas and a conference in San Diego.
Last February, two checks for $4,000 each were issued to Hackett for expenses associated with another conference, location unknown.
According to Abelson’s seven-page decision, regional union Deputy Administrator Jeff Bigelow testified that, “In his roughly 30 years of experience working with AFSCME and its financial standard code, these types of expenditures, without sufficient detail in terms of union or further receipts, is unusual, inappropriate and possibly unlawful.” Bigelow also testified the group had resisted holding elections.
Bigelow and Administrator Kevin Brown were installed in June after the monetary issues were uncovered and the local was placed under “administratorship.”
All told, $41,700 in checks were allegedly written to Hackett for expenses, including flights and a hotel room for a union conference in Las Vegas in 2016, and a February conference, which never happened, according Abelson’s decision. He also received money for a training session in San Diego, also in 2016. No evidence of that training session occurring has been found so far.
Parker allegedly received checks for $9,600 for expenses for the conference in Vegas, but some of the checks written to him had no information in the memo line.
Young allegedly received $12,200, including checks for $3,000 and $1,200 conference expenses, and two $4,000 checks were also transferred to Young’s account for unknown reasons.
Another $1,200 allegedly went to Hunter for room and per diem on the Vegas trip.
Last week, Mermell placed Young, Hunter and Hackett on administrative leave pending the outcome of a City Hall investigation.
Young works in the city’s Finance Department. Hackett and Hunter are employed in the city’s Public Works Department, where Spencer and Parker also formerly worked.
The union only had two meetings in 2017 and an “irregular” meeting schedule in 2016, according to the decision, which did not list how many meetings were held that year.
However, financial reports were not provided during those meetings, a violation of the union’s constitution, which requires monthly meetings and reporting of the finances, including expenditures to the membership.