Former Boilermakers business manager charged with embezzling $1.5 million

PITTSBURGH — A former International Brotherhood of Boilermakers business manager has been charged with embezzling about $1.5 million in labor union funds for his personal use, Acting United States Attorney Soo C. Song announced Monday.

Raymond Ventrone, 59, of Pittsburgh, was the business manager of Local 154 from January 2010 to June 2015.

PHOTOS: Items bought with embezzled money up for auction

During his time as business manager, Ventrone embezzled the approximately $1,499,000 of union funds, according to investigators. He also allegedly evaded payment of income taxes on the embezzled money.

Neighbors of Ventrone were surprised to learn of his troubles with the law.

“He’s a great neighbor. He’s a great friend. He does nothing but good for the community,” Allen Arnold said.

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Charges against Ventrone include one count of embezzlement and five counts of income tax evasion.

Newton Jones, international president of the International Brotherhood of Boilermakers, issued the following statement Monday:

"The International Brotherhood of Boilermakers first became aware of inappropriate financial transactions involving the business manager of Pittsburgh Local 154 several years ago. At that time, the International union forced him from office, placed the lodge under International supervision and notified the appropriate authorities. We have worked closely with those authorities throughout the subsequent criminal investigation. This case represents an extraordinary breach of trust by the local lodge's top leader. We are confident that the lodge, under new leadership, will work to rebuild the trust on behalf of its membership and the greater Pittsburgh community."

Channel 11 News learned that Ventrone allegedly used some of the embezzled money to buy dozens of Louis Vuitton bags, GoPro cameras, furniture and workout equipment. Local 154 is working with an auction house in hopes of recouping some of the money.

The auction is open to the public and starts at 9:30 a.m. on May 13. Bidding is done onsite at M. Davis Group or online. People can preview items by appointment or at the public inspection on May 12 from 9 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. The auction will take place at M. Davis Group's auction showroom at 2300 Palmer Street in Swissvale.

Ventrone faces a maximum sentence of up to 30 years in prison, a fine of $1.5 million or both.