Board now back in charge at Unity House
The labor group had been under federal control since 2004
The board of directors of Unity House announced yesterday that it has retaken control of the labor organization, which the federal government seized in December 2004, along with $42 million in assets.
At the time, Unity House President Tony Rutledge was under indictment for mail and wire fraud, conspiracy to commit mail and wire fraud, and conspiracy to defraud the U.S. Treasury Department.
Last month, Rutledge pleaded guilty to a single tax offense and agreed to serve three years' probation. He also agreed to permanently sever his ties with Unity House.
With the plea, U.S. District Judge David Ezra ended the government takeover. A week later a federal appeals court vacated an injunction that allowed the federal government to seize control of Unity House in the first place.
The board said it appointed a three-person executive committee, composed of Rutledge's son Anthony Rutledge Jr., Arlene Ilae and Randall Karakul, to resume day-to-day management of the organization, which provides benefits for members and retirees of the Hawaii Teamsters union and Local 5 Hotel Employees and Restaurant Employees union.
"We are very pleased to be able to return to our job of providing financial assistance and enrichment programs for the beneficiaries of Unity House," Ilae said.
Last week, the reinstated board met for the first time, welcoming two new board members selected by Ezra.
They are Robert Fishman, who has held a number of government posts, including Honolulu managing director and general manager of Aloha Stadium, and James Boersema, a partner with Starr Seigle Communications.
The board said it will re-energize programs that were neglected during the government takeover.
"Some of our traditional programs and events were not conducted this past year," Ilae said. "For example, before last year, we had more than 1,000 participants in our sports program," she said. "We intend to reinstate those kinds of things as soon as possible."