United States District Court, E.D. Missouri, Eastern Division
JONATHAN GOULD, on behalf of St. Louis-Kansas City Carpenters Regional Council, Plaintiff,
ALBERT BOND, Defendant and ST. LOUIS-KANSAS CITY CARPENTERS REGIONAL COUNCIL, Intervenor Defendant.
D. NOCE UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE
matter is before the Court on the motion of plaintiff
Jonathan Gould for leave to file a verified complaint under
29 U.S.C. § 501(b). Defendant Albert Bond and intervenor
defendant St. Louis-Kansas City Carpenters Regional Council
(“CRC”) oppose the motion. The parties have
consented to the exercise of plenary authority by a United
States Magistrate Judge pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 636(b).
brought this action on behalf of intervenor CRC, alleging
breaches of fiduciary duties owed to CRC by defendant Albert
Bond, who is currently the Executive Secretary of CRC.
According to plaintiff's verified proposed complaint,
plaintiff is a member of CRC and was previously employed as a
business agent for the union. Prior to the filing of this
case, plaintiff brought a wrongful termination claim against
CRC in 2016 in the Circuit Court of the City of St. Louis,
Missouri. Jonathan Gould v. St. Louis-Kansas City
Carpenters Regional Council et al., No. 1622-CC09954.
(Doc. 17, Ex. 1). That case is still pending.
alleges that defendant ignored and blatantly violated CRC
policies, resulting both in personal benefit to defendant and
other CRC officers, and loss to CRC in the amount of hundreds
of thousands of dollars. Specifically, plaintiff claims that
CRC business agents and executive board members receive
weekly vehicle allowances of $300, and approximately $1000
per year for auto insurance. This allowance is counted as
income, and the CRC pays approximately $15, 600 per year in
taxes on this income per employee, or nearly $800, 000 per
year in additional taxes. Plaintiff argues this should be set
aside as a benefit rather than being included in weekly
salaries. Plaintiff also claims that CRC pays into each
business agent's and executive board member's pension
at least 13 percent of their salary. Plaintiff argues that
this is excessive compensation and improperly inflates
pensions. Finally, plaintiff claims that certain funds have
been misappropriated to pay for personal,
non-business-related expenses. (Doc. 1 at 6-9).
to plaintiff, he repeatedly challenged these practices,
beginning in 2007. (Id.). In January 2018, he sent
defendant a formal demand letter under 29 U.S.C. §
501(b). (Id. at 11). On January 23, 2018, CRC
answered plaintiff's demand, stating “the Council
will launch a thorough and comprehensive investigation of
[plaintiff's] allegations, ” acknowledging that the
CRC has “a duty both to the Council and our 22, 000
members to remove all doubt respecting whether we are
fulfilling our fiduciary duties as required by federal law
and the Council's governing documents.”
(Id. at 12). Defendant stated it would retain the
services of Calibre CPA Group to investigate. (Id.).
challenged Calibre's impartiality, as a CRC-affiliated
group, the International Carpenters' Union, hired the
firm from 2012 to 2016, paying $330, 000 in that time.
Plaintiff asked that he be permitted to share documents
directly with Calibre to ensure their accounting was
accurate. CRC hired Mr. Clash-Drexler to facilitate
communication between plaintiff and Calibre. In April 2018,
Mr. Clash-Drexler advised plaintiff that CRC “provided
Calibre with full cooperation and unrestricted access to the
relevant financial records, including the Council's
regular audit reports, expense reimbursement policies,
employee expense reports, credit card records, and back-up
documents.” (Id. at 12-13). Plaintiff was
invited to share any documents with Mr. Clas-Drexler, and
plaintiff sent 18, 000 to Mr. Clash-Drexler to be forwarded
to Calibre for the accounting. These documents consisted
mostly of expense reports, credit card receipts, and other
CRC accounting documents. (Id. at 13). Mr.
Clash-Drexler informed plaintiff he would need to identify
the documents showing specific violations of 29 U.S.C. §
501, and that he would not forward 18, 000 documents to
Calibre. Plaintiff then categorized the documents into three
groups of 17, 302 pages; 1, 050 pages; and 102, 318 pages
respectively. (Id. at 13-14). Mr. Clash-Drexler
informed plaintiff that these still were not sufficiently
organized, and that they were beyond the scope of the
accounting, which was limited to the “five specific
instances of alleged misappropriation” that plaintiff
had identified in his demand:
1. Flying spouses, significant others, and/or family members
to Council conventions and conferences;
2. Paying expenses for spouses, significant others, and/or
family members at Council conventions and conferences;
3. Paying for non-business related alcohol expenses at
Council conventions and meetings;
4. Paying for non-business related lunches, dinners, and
alcoholic drinks with Council funds and “petty
5. Increasing salaries via an illegal vehicle policy that
serves to fraudulently inflate their pensions.
(Doc. 1, Ex. 8).
Mr. Clash-Drexler did not forward any of the documents
plaintiff provided on to Calibre. (Doc. 1 at 15).
Calibre's review found that “there was missing
documentation consisting of fourteen transactions amounting
to $1, 341 relating to one individual. Subsequent to the
issuance of that report, we have been provided with
supporting documentation for nine of those transactions. This
documentation appears to satisfy the expense substantiation
requirements of the DOL and IRS. Furthermore, it is our
understanding that $539 which is the total of the remaining
five transactions for which support has not been provided,
will be remitted by ...