Former LA union chief found guilty of embezzling



Tyrone Freeman at the 2008 SEIU Convention
Tyrone Freeman at the 2008 SEIU Convention



LOS ANGELES — Federal prosecutors say the former head of a major Los Angeles union local has been found guilty of embezzling tens of thousands of dollars from his labor organization.

A U.S. attorney’s statement says after a 10-day trial, a jury found 43-year-old Tyrone Freeman guilty Monday of 14 counts including embezzlement, mail fraud and theft of union assets. Sentencing is scheduled for April.

Until stepping down in 2008, Freeman was president of the Service Employees International Union Local, representing about 180,000 low-wage workers who provide in-home healthcare services in California’s largest union local.

The crimes named in the charges occurred between January 2007 and August 2008, and include more than $8,000 in costs related to his wedding in Hawaii.

The charges stem from a 2008 investigation by the Los Angeles Times.

Freeman in 2007 served notice on four of Imperial county’s supervisors that they intended to circulate petitions to recall them from office.

Freeman said back then, “We represent just one piece of a local coalition of concerned citizens that’s committed to building a better Imperial. Senior citizens, people with disabilities, their family members and caregivers have for too long been dismissed and disrespected by this Board, ” said Tyrone Freeman, president, California United Homecare Workers, which represents nearly 4,000 California homecare workers. “Today, a growing coalition of Imperial citizens took action that said ‘enough is enough.’ It’s time for change in Imperial County leadership.”

Freeman then delivered a copy of the notice to then Supervisors Larry Grogan, Joe Maruca, Gary Wyatt and Wally Leimgruber during the meeting’s public comment session.

An official recall notice with signatures was delivered by those coalition members in attendance to the County Registrar’s office following the public comment.

“A change in Imperial’s leadership is long overdue, and we’re glad that the homecare community has gotten this campaign started,” said Eric Reyes, Executive Director of the Institute for Socio-Economic Justice. “Protecting homecare is a key issue, and it is just one of the many facing this County. With the ongoing environmental, economic, and transportation crises that affect our County’s residents, I am proud to be standing with this coalition as we work to bring responsive leadership to Imperial.”