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Former Union President Sentenced for Violent Extortion

Gerald Scroop

September 23, 2020

The former president of Iron Workers Local 395 was sentenced today to 42 months in prison for his role in organizing a brutal assault on a group of non-union ironworkers in Dyer, Indiana.

The attack, which left multiple workers with serious injuries, was part of an effort to obtain a contract for Local 395 to assist with the construction of the Plum Creek Christian Academy, a school affiliated with the Dyer Baptist Church.

Acting Assistant Attorney General Brian C. Rabbitt of the Department of Justice’s Criminal Division, Special Agent in Charge Irene Lindow, Chicago Regional Office, U.S. Department of Labor, Office of Inspector General (DOL-OIG) and Special Agent in Charge Paul Keenan of the FBI’s Indianapolis Field Office made the announcement.

Jeffrey Veach, 57, had earlier pleaded guilty to one count of extortion conspiracy, along with co-defendant Thomas Williamson Sr., 69. The sentence was handed down by U.S. District Court Judge Theresa Springmann of the Northern District of Indiana. Williamson is scheduled to be sentenced separately by Judge Springmann on Dec. 15.

Veach resigned as president of Local 395, following his guilty plea in January. Under federal law, Veach will be barred from holding any union position for at least 13 years following the end of his prison sentence.

Pursuant to his plea agreement, Veach admitted that in January 2016, he learned that D5 Iron Works – a non-union ironworking company from Illinois – was performing work for the Dyer Baptist Church, in Local 395’s “territory.” On the morning of Jan. 7, Veach and Williamson visited the construction site in order to persuade the D5 workers to sign up with the union or stop work on the site.  When they were rebuffed, Veach brought rank-and-file members of Local 395 to the construction site later that day.  At Veach’s direction, the union members conducted a coordinated attacked on the D5 workers.  The victims were beaten with fists and loose pieces of hardwood.  As a result of the attack, one of the workers sustained a broken jaw that required several surgeries and hospitalization.

The DOL-OIG, FBI, and Dyer Police Department investigated the case.  Trial Attorneys Alexander Gottfried and Robert Tully of the Criminal Division’s Organized Crime and Gang Section prosecuted the case.  The Organized Crime and Gang Section’s Labor Unit supports federal criminal prosecutions in cases involving labor-management relations, internal union affairs, and the operation of employee pension and health care plans.  Assistant Chief for Labor-Management Racketeering Gerald Toner provided critical assistance in the prosecution of this case.

The year 2020 marks the 150th anniversary of the Department of Justice. Learn more about the history of our agency at www.Justice.gov/Celebrating150Years.

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