The former chief of staff for the Laborers’ International Union of North America has been indicted on charges of stealing nearly $170,000 from the union through unauthorized use of a LIUNA-provided credit card and of committing health-care fraud, the Dept. of Justice says.
A grand jury in Washington, D.C., on Jan. 18 handed up a five-count indictment against Roderick Marvin Bennett that includes three counts of embezzlement from a labor organization, as well as one count of health-care fraud conspiracy and one count of health-care fraud.
DOJ said that Bennett, 49, of Alexandria, Va., was chief of staff at the laborers’ union’s Washington, D.C., headquarters for about four years, ending in October 2016.
The indictment, which DOJ announced on Jan. 19, alleges that Bennett made numerous unauthorized charges, totaling about $168,000, on his union-issued credit card from January 2014 until October 2016.
The indictment, filed in U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, alleges that he charged personal trips to Las Vegas, New York City and Orlando; boat-slip expenses for his boat; more than $33,000 in Washington hotel and restaurant expenses; and personal electronics, furniture, antiques and other items for his home, DOJ said.
Other alleged credit-card charges include private-school tuition and what DOJ called “lavish jewelry, luxury wristwatches and gold-flecked makeup.”
Also indicted on charges of health-care fraud and health-care fraud conspiracy was Aimee Occhetti, an attorney, of the Villages, Fla. DOJ said Bennett allegedly arranged to have Occhetti put on LIUNA’s health-care plan, although she wasn’t a full-time union employee and thus not eligible for the coverage. Occhetti allegedly received more than $66,000 in medical reimbursements to which she wasn’t entitled, according to the indictment.
In an statement emailed to ENR, the union said, "LIUNA has and will continue to cooperate fully with the government in this matter."
ENR was unable to locate Roderick Bennett for comment.
LIUNA is one of the largest construction unions, representing more than 580,000 workers in the U.S. and Canada.
The case was investigated by the Labor Dept. The Justice Dept. is prosecuting the case.