Tuesday, October 27, 2020

Labor Union President Demanded, Accepted Bribes, Feds Say

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A Fairfield County resident who serves as the president of the local International Longshoremen’s Association has been charged by federal prosecutors with demanding and accepting bribes.

Glenn Blicht, 57, of Wilton, was arrested Friday, July 26 for honest services fraud and a violation of the Taft-Hartley Act for demanding and accepting at least $150,000 in bribe payments from an employer.

The honest services fraud charge carries a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison. He was also charged with one count of demanding or receiving prohibited payments as a labor union official, which carries a maximum sentence of five years in prison.

“As alleged, Glenn Blicht abused his position as the president of a labor union to line his own pockets,” said Geoffrey S. Berman, United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York. “He allegedly demanded and received bribes and, in return, he did not fight for his union members – the hard-working individuals whose interests he was duty-bound to protect. Together with our law enforcement partners, this Office is committed to rooting out corruption in union leadership.”

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According to the allegations contained in the federal complaint against Blicht:

From 2009 through the present, Blicht served as an officer of the union, including as its president for many years. In that role, he had a duty to act in the best interests of the Union and its members, including by avoiding personal financial conflicts of interest with the Union.

Read MoreLongshoremen union local’s president charged in NY with bribery

Nevertheless, Blicht demanded and received cash payments from the employer of a number of members of the union. In exchange for these bribes, Blicht declined to file arbitration claims on behalf of union members. In total, Blicht received at least approximately $150,000 in bribes from the employer over approximately 10 years.

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In communications, a number of which were recorded, Blicht repeatedly referred to the bribe payments as “tickets,” in which each ticket equaled a $1,000 bribe.

Blicht instructed an official of the employer as to the number of “tickets” to pay Blicht each time. Indeed, during the past year, the official met with Blicht several times and paid him bribes on approximately three occasions, at the direction of law enforcement. Each of these meetings was recorded, Berman noted.

“Criminals are asked to do things all the time for money, but sometimes they’re asked not to do things for money,” FBI Assistant Director-in-Charge William F. Sweeney Jr. said: “Glenn Blicht was supposed to be representing the best interests of hundreds of people who had faith in the fact that he was helping them, but he allegedly decided to help himself to bribes the other side was offering him.

“It’s often hard to see what’s actually going on just under the surface, but as the FBI, we have the ability to dig into criminal behavior and expose fraudsters for what they truly are.”

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