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George R. Laufenberg speaks at the International Foundation of Employee Benefit Plans. (Photo: Facebook.)

Laufenberg sentenced for stealing union funds

By David Wildstein, November 16 2022 3:54 pm

The former head of the Northeast Carpenter’s Union Pension Fund was sentenced to six months of home confinement and three years’ probation after admitting that he embezzled about $140,000.

George R. Laufenberg, a former commissioner of the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, admitted in June that he had stolen pension fund and made false statements to the U.S. Department of Labor.

U.S. District Court Judge Kevin McNulty also imposed a $20,000 fine on the former labor leader.

Federal prosecutors said that Laufenberg took the funds under a deferred compensation agreement that he was not entitled to.  He was the administrative manager of the pension fund.

The Eastern Atlantic States Regional Council of Carpenters fired Laufenberg in 2016.  In 2018, they also terminated John Ballantyne, the former secretary-treasurer of the union and a political ally of Gov. Phil Murphy.  Ballantyne alleged that he was forced out after emerging as a critic of Laufenberg.

Five Ballantyne allies, including his son and Assemblyman Anthony Verrelli (D-Hopewell), filed a lawsuit alleging that they were terminated in retaliation.

“The union fired these five long-term union leaders because they were actively involved in efforts to bring women and minorities into the union and because they all objected to the discriminatory and hostile atmosphere created and encouraged by current union leadership,” said their attorney, Nancy Erika Smith of Smith Mullin.  “The abandonment of diversity efforts – and firing of those championing those efforts – may have an even longer lasting and more damaging effect on the union than the Laufenberg corruption case. We hope those public entities who are negotiating with the union for public, taxpayer-paid jobs will keep these efforts in mind and join us in trying to force real change.”

Later, the carpenters restructured their union to purge other Ballantyne allies.

In 2017, Laufenberg resigned from the Porth Authority post amid allegations that he did not actually live in the port district — a 25-mile radius around the Statue of Liberty.  Laufenberg held one of the four seats that required port district residency, so he used his son’s address in Hoboken and not his home in Wall.   He had been named to the post by Gov. Chris Christie.

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