June 2, 2004 – LAWFUEL – Marcos Daniel Jiménez, United States Attorn…

June 2, 2004 – LAWFUEL – Marcos Daniel Jiménez, United States Attorney for the Southern District of Florida, and Douglas Colon, Special Agent in Charge, of the United States Department of Labor, Office of Labor Racketeering and Fraud Investigations, announced today that Walter J. Browne, President of the National Federation of Public and Private Employees (NFOPAPE), a 7000-member union that represents many Broward County public employees, and Patricia A. Devaney, Browne’s sister and Administrative Assistant at NFOPAPE, were convicted after a two-month trial on charges that included violations of the Racketeering Influenced and Corrupt Organizations (RICO) Act, Title 18, United States Code, Sections 1962(c) and (d), in connection with their activities as employees and officers of the NFOPAPE. Specifically, Browne and Devaney were found guilty of conspiring to violate RICO, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 1962(d), and of committing substantive RICO Act violations, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 1962(c).

In addition to the two RICO Act counts, Browne was found guilty of violating the Taft-Hartley Act, Title 29, United States Code, Sections 186(b)(1) and (d)(2), which prohibits the receipt by union officials of money from employers; four counts of mail fraud, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Sections 1341 and 2; and failing to maintain expense records, in violation of Title 29, United States Code, Section 439(a) and Title 18, United States Code, Section 2.

Devaney, in addition to the two RICO Act counts, was found guilty of embezzlement, in violation of Title 29, United States Code, Section 501(c) and Title 18, United States Code, Section 2; bank fraud, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 1344; three counts of mail fraud, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Sections 1341 and 2; failing to maintain expense records, in violation of Title 29, United States Code, Section 439(a) and Title 18, United States Code, Section 2; and failing to maintain payroll records, in violation of Title 29, United States Code, Section 439(c) and Title 18, United States Code, Section 2.

According to the evidence presented at trial, Browne received almost $500,000 from various employers while simultaneously representing the interests of the NFOPAPE and the Marine Engineers Beneficial Association (MEBA), a maritime labor union. Additionally, Devaney, embezzled more than $116,000 from the union. Moreover, the evidence showed that Browne and Devaney together falsified travel and entertainment expense reports, thereby causing the union to pay thousands of dollars in personal expenses on their behalf.

The defendants’ sentencing hearings are scheduled for August 18, 2004. The defendants face up to twenty (20) years’ imprisonment on each of the two RICO Act counts. The defendants face up to five (5) years’ imprisonment on each other count that they were convicted on, with the exception of the record keeping counts, which are misdemeanor counts. The maximum term of imprisonment for each such count is one (1) year.

Mr. Jiménez commended the investigative efforts of the United States Department of Labor, Office of Labor Racketeering and Fraud Investigations. The case is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Lawrence D. LaVecchio and Julia J. Stiller.