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9/16/2003



Rail News: Labor

U.S. attorney accuses four current, former UTU officers of racketeering, bribery, mail and wire fraud


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On Sept. 15, the U.S. Attorney's office announced an indictment accusing the United Transportation Union's current and former international presidents, as well as a current and former union employee of racketeering conspiracy, mail fraud, wire fraud and commercial bribery.

The government alleges that during a seven-year period beginning in 1995, UTU International President Byron Boyd Jr., former international president Charles Little, and current and former union officers John Rookard and Ralph Dennis conspired to violate federal mail fraud and wire fraud statutes, and commercial state bribery statutes by using their positions of authority to solicit and collect cash payments and other objects of value from attorneys doing business with the union.

Little served as international president between 1995 and February 2001. Dennis served as director of insurance for the UTU Insurance Association until he resigned in July. Rookard serves as special assistant to Boyd.

The defendants devised and executed a scheme to defraud and deprive members services by soliciting and receiving more than $477,000 in cash from various attorneys, according to the indictment.

UTU's Designated Legal Counsel (DLC) comprises about 50 attorneys located throughout the United States who specialize in representing union members in work-related injury cases. UTU's president appoints attorneys — who become dues-paying union members — to DLC.

The defendants engaged in acts of fraud, bribery and interstate travel in aid of racketeering relating to the DLC program, according to the indictment. Little and Boyd allegedly demanded thousands of dollars in secret cash contributions for their presidential campaigns, soliciting and collecting cash from attorneys in exchange for DLC appointments.

"The allegations … are unfounded," said Boyd in a prepared statement. "I have every intention to pursue this matter to a final and full conclusion that completely exonerates me. The one fact that cannot be refuted is that we will not know the issues and facts until the end of this process, and any comments or opinions before the resolution are premature."

If convicted, each defendant faces a maximum statutory penalty of 20 years imprisonment and a $250,000 fine for the racketeering conspiracy, and 10 years imprisonment and a $250,000 fine for each mail fraud charge. The indictment also seeks forfeiture of $477,100 in U.S. currency because federal authorities believe the proceeds were obtained by the defendants through racketeering activity.

In 1999, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, U.S. Department of Labor and Office of the Inspector General began investigating current and former UTU officers. The investigation continues, according to the U.S. attorney.


Contact Progressive Railroading editorial staff.

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