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Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
Southern District of New York

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Thursday, December 12, 2019

Former Vice President Of Teamsters Labor Union Pleads Guilty To Bribery

Geoffrey S. Berman, the United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, announced that JOHN ULRICH, who previously served as the vice president of the International Brotherhood of Teamsters Local 812 (the “Union”) and as a trustee of the Union’s employee health benefit plan (the “Plan”), pled guilty today to soliciting tens of thousands of dollars in bribe payments from an executive with the Plan’s Third Party Administrator (the “TPA-1”), in exchange for using his influence to ensure the Union’s continued retention of TPA-1 as its Plan administrator.  ULRICH pled guilty before United States District Judge Analisa Torres.

U.S. Attorney Geoffrey S. Berman said:  “As he admitted in court today, John Ulrich betrayed the trust of the Union members who elected him in order to line his pockets with bribe money.  This Office is committed to prosecuting corrupt union officials who abuse their positions of trust for their own financial benefit.”

According to the allegations in the Indictment, other public filings, and statements made during the plea proceeding:

The Union has more than approximately 3,000 members, and represents workers in the beverage industry throughout the New York metropolitan area.  The Union’s members are covered by the Plan, which provides, among other things, life insurance, health insurance, dental, vision, and disability benefits to Union members and their families.  As the Plan’s third-party administrator, TPA-1 processed health insurance claims for participants in the Plan.  At all times relevant to the Indictment, ULRICH was a member and officer of the Union and a trustee of the Plan.

In or about 2013, ULRICH  solicited bribe payments from an executive with TPA-1 (“Executive-1”) of $5,000 per quarter in exchange for using his influence to maintain TPA-1 as the Plan’s third-party administrator.  Before ULRICH solicited these bribes, the Plan had issued a request for proposals for a new third-party administrator, and TPA-1 was at risk of losing the Plan’s business.  ULRICH told Executive-1 that ULRICH would use his influence with the Union to ensure that the Plan continued to use TPA-1 to administer the Union’s health care plan.  Executive-1 agreed to make $5,000 quarterly payments to ULRICH, and began doing so.  Subsequently, despite receiving multiple bids from other third-party administrators, the Plan then continued to work with TPA-1.   

In or about 2014, ULRICH demanded increased bribe payments from Executive-1.  In part, ULRICH told Executive-1 that these increased bribe payments were needed for another trustee of the Plan, and Executive-1 began making such increased payments.  On or about September 19, 2015, ULRICH again solicited additional bribe payments for this trustee.

After a special board meeting convened by the Plan in February 2016, ULRICH was terminated as vice president and trustee of the Union and Plan, respectively.  In total, ULRICH demanded, and Executive-1 paid, tens of thousands in bribes before ULRICH was removed from office.

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ULRICH, 48, of Newburgh, New York, pled guilty to one count of conspiracy to solicit and receive bribe payments to influence the operation of an employee benefit plan, which carries a maximum penalty of five years in prison.  The maximum potential sentence in this case is prescribed by Congress and is provided here for informational purposes only, as any sentencing of the defendant will be determined by the judge. 

ULRICH is scheduled to be sentenced by Judge Torres on April 23, 2020, at 2:00 p.m.

Mr. Berman praised the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the U.S. Department of Labor Office of Inspector General, the U.S. Department of Labor Employee Benefits Security Administration, and the U.S. Department of Labor Office of Labor-Management Standards for their outstanding investigative work in this case.

This matter is being handled by the Office’s Public Corruption Unit.  Assistant United States Attorneys Eli J. Mark and Louis A. Pellegrino are in charge of the prosecution.

Topic(s): 
Labor & Employment
Contact: 
Jim Margolin, Nicholas Biase (212) 637-2600
Press Release Number: 
19-428
Updated December 12, 2019