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Feds take ex-Globe union head to task

Back in December, I wrote that former Boston Newspaper Guild head Dan Totten's quest to get his job back could be undercut by a Department of Labor audit--which found that multiple violations of the federal Labor-Management Reporting and Disclosure Act had occurred on Totten's watch. But I wasn't able to obtain the audit itself.

Now, Dan Kennedy has read a Department of Labor letter synopsizing the audit's findings. And he reports that one of the violations that lead to Totten's ouster--i.e. his decision to sign a check on behalf of another union official--was more serious than it initially seemed:

Former Boston Newspaper Guild president Dan Totten signed another union official’s name on his paycheck in order to circumvent a dispute involving unauthorized expenses Totten had rung up on his union credit card, according to an audit conducted by the U.S. Department of Labor....

According to the audit, Totten had charged $1,441 in expenses to his credit card without permission. After making some restitution, the letter says, Totten still owed $254. Here’s what happened next, according to the letter, in a section titled “Falsification of Union Records”:

"It was further disclosed that BNG President Daniel Totten forged another officer’s name to Totten’s paycheck that was being withheld until receipts (or reimbursements) were turned into the union office for charges made to the union’s credit card.

"The union should be aware that these activities constitute fiduciary violations…. While this matter will not be pursued further at this time, OLMS recommends that President Totten reimburse the union for the remaining outstanding unauthorized expenditures and that stricter internal checks and balances are put into place to avoid this occuring in the future.

The letter also details more than $5,000 in meals for union officers at places like The Fours, Siros Restaurant, Legal Seafood, and Joe’s American Bar and Grill, with no explanation given as to what if any union business was conducted. The letter further states that willful failure to maintain records properly can result in a fine of $100,000, a one-year prison term or both.

Totten has appealed his expulsion. I'm trying to get an update on that appeal from the Communications Workers of America, the Guild's parent union; if I succeed, I'll post an update here.

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