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Friday, March 9, 2001

UPW officials
say timing of
indictment suspicious

By Harold Morse

The United Public Workers executive committee questions the timing of the indictment against UPW state director Gary Rodrigues.

The committee said in a statement that the indictment appears calculated to affect votes on union-related issues before the state Legislature.

Robert Miller, UPW attorney here, emphasized that the union executive committee has asked Rodrigues to continue his duties, especially as they relate to matters pending before the Legislature, such as a union pay raise, privatization and certain civil service reform issues.

Rodrigues and his daughter, Robin Haunani Rodrigues Sabatini, were indicted Wednesday by a federal grand jury on mail fraud and other charges stemming from allegedly inflated premiums charged to the union by health insurers to cover consultant fees paid to his daughter's companies.

U.S. Attorney Steven S. Alm said he would have no comment except in regard to the matter of timing.

"We present indictments to grand juries when we believe the evidence and circumstances warrant it," Alm said. "We neither time such presentations in relation to other events, such as business before the Legislature, nor present or fail to present an indictment because of potential effects on such events. This has always been our policy and will continue to be our policy."

Noting the entire UPW leadership has been under federal scrutiny over the past three years, no wrongdoing has been found on the part of the state president, secretary-treasurer or executive committee, the union statement said.

Recent audits indicated all financial matters are in order, it added. Health and benefit plans are not in jeopardy, and no union monies from UPW are at risk, UPW said. It voiced confidence that Rodrigues and support staff are conducting union business properly and expressed hope that pending legal matters may be quickly resolved.

"He's to continue his duties as it relates to those matters," Miller said.

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