OPSEU files lawsuit alleging financial improprieties against 3 former execs

Ontario Public Service Employees Union (OPSEU) President Warren (Smokey) Thomas speaks to reporters at Queens Park in Toronto, on Monday, January 21, 2019. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chris Young

TORONTO — The Ontario Public Service Employees’ Union has filed a lawsuit against three former executives, alleging financial improprieties.

The union is seeking nearly $6 million it alleges was unlawfully transferred to former president Warren (Smokey) Thomas, former first vice-president/treasurer Eduardo Almeida and former financial services administrator Maurice Gabay, as well as millions more in damages.

OPSEU says since Thomas and Almeida left their positions last April, the union has been doing a forensic audit and alleges it has uncovered that Thomas and Almeida paid themselves “significant compensation” they weren’t entitled to, used union money for non-business purposes, transferred union vehicles to themselves or family members and paid out strike fund cash to themselves and Gabay.

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OPSEU’s statement of claim alleges union money was used to pay the home repairs and moving expenses for someone with whom Gabay had a personal relationship.

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The allegations have not been tested in court.

None of the defendants could be reached for comment and it is unclear if any has filed a statement of defence.

Current OPSEU president JP Hornick wrote in an update to members Monday that the allegations are “troubling.”

“I want to be clear to you, our staff and members, and the people of Ontario who we dutifully serve, that we will not waiver in our commitment to seeking justice in this matter, and we have the full support of the Board to pursue all available legal avenues,” Hornick wrote.

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