Diary

Detroit Carpenters Union Chief Under Further Investigation

-By Warner Todd Huston

Convicted of corruption charges in 2006, Walter Ralph Marbry is under a cloud once again for further charges that he is involved in illegal activities connected with his former role as head of the Detroit Carpenter’s union.

Convicted of receiving more than “$120,000 in illegally discounted work on his Grosse Pointe Park home,” Marbry is also being looked at for receiving kickbacks in a pension fund deal with a Mississippi casino. The alleged kickback scheme involved Marbry’s control of union pension funds that were invested at his direction.

In July, the U.S. Justice Department disclosed in a court filing it was investigating alleged kickbacks involving an unnamed executive of the carpenters’ pension fund, the Chicago-based investment firm AA Capital Partners, and consultant Joseph R. Jewett.

The government is attempting to seize assets from Jewett, who has not been charged. On Monday, U.S. District Judge Avern Cohn scheduled a Dec. 17 hearing in the forfeiture case.

In return for sending union pension money to AA Capital in 2002-03 to build a casino in Biloxi, the union official directed AA Capital to hire Jewett as a consultant, Assistant U.S. Attorney Philip Ross said in a court filing. Jewett was paid at least $750,000 and kicked back some of the money to the union official, Ross alleged.

It is clear that the Feds think Marbry is the “unnamed executive of the carpenter’s union.”

“The government theorizes that Mr. Jewett was hired as a consultant on a casino investment, solely to kick back money to Mr. Mabry, and that (Orecchio) used a bank account in Las Vegas, opened along with Mr. Jewett, to filter funds Mr. Orecchio embezzled from AA Capital,” Steingold said in a court filing.

Of course, we all know that unions are only there for the “little guy,” right?

As long as that little guy can funnel kickbacks to the union bosses, I guess.

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