PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — For years, Ray Ventrone was the face of the Boilermakers union in Pittsburgh.
But he resigned after federal investigators discovered the questionable expenditure of an estimated $1 million in union funds.
Federal authorities have never commented, but KDKA’s own investigation found that, according to financial reports, Ventrone spent hundreds of thousands of dollars in union funds on items designated as “gifts.”
Over a three year period, the union spent $270,000 on these so-called “gifts” at Best Buy; and, in addition, spent $48,000 at the Apple store and $28,200 at Drum World in the South Hills.
There was another $19,000 spent at Tumi Luggage, and even $6,000 at a designer sunglasses store in Miami.
The union did not returned phone calls on Wednesday, but KDKA’s Andy Sheehan has learned that next month it will be auctioning off most of those items confiscated from Ventron.
The auction is already being advertised online and will be held at the M. Davis Auction House in Swissvale on May 13.
The FBI, the IRS and the Department of Labor have also questioned other purchases by the union leadership, which under Ventrone spared no expense in treating themselves at meetings and conventions.
Dropping more than $31,000 in 2014 at the Double Tree Ocean Point in Miami Beach, and $34,000 at the Hilton Marco Island Resort.
Records show they also spent $11,400 for tickets at the Staples Center in Los Angeles, and more than $20,000 for Penguins tickets here in Pittsburgh. Not to mention more than $70,000 for catering and tabs at local restaurants – $5,600 of that in just one night at Morton’s Steakhouse downtown.
Details of the plea agreement are unclear, but hopefully, union membership will recoup some of these funds at auction, and perhaps find better stewards of their funds in the future.