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Ex-union business manager John Hamilton of Riviera Beach pleads guilty in extortion scheme

Posted at 3:09 PM, Aug 18, 2017
and last updated 2017-08-18 15:09:35-04

DETROIT (AP) -- A Florida man who was a high-ranking official at a Michigan labor union has pleaded guilty in a scheme to force union employees to pay $5,000 in kickbacks.

The government says the money was supposed to cover union election expenses. Instead, John Hamilton used it for his own benefit, including $5,000 as a wedding gift for his daughter. He appeared in Detroit federal court on Friday.

Hamilton was business manager at Operating Engineers Local 324, based in suburban Detroit. Authorities say he kept $71,000 and gave $35,000 each to two allies after losing re-election in 2012.

The 62-year-old Hamilton lives in Riviera Beach, Florida. Two other former officials have pleaded guilty, including Steve Minella, who was president.

Hamilton faces up to five years in federal prison and has agreed to pay $250,000 restitution to victims of the crime, according to the Detroit News.

Local 324's website says it has 14,000 members in Michigan.