Grand Jury Investigates Screen Extras Spending
LOS ANGELES (AP) _ A federal grand jury is looking into allegations of misappropriation of funds in the Screen Extras Guild after the FBI served subpoenas to obtain the union’s financial records.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Rex Small said Tuesday he could not disclose which of the union’s funds were under scrutiny.
The guild struck movie and television producers for one week in February, and voted before that to merge with the Teamsters, saying it needed the extra muscle after years of poor contract enforcement left it one of Hollywood’s most ignored unions.
Last month, the guild’s board of directors refused to approve both the union’s financial report and the report on its strike fund, said one member of the board.
″My guess is that certain members of the guild have made allegations that they want to get into and get facts on,″ said guild attorney Joseph Kaplon of the subpoenas. ″There is no claim by anybody to my knowledge that any wrongdoing has been committed. This is just an investigation in response to certain probably disgruntled members of the guild.″
Kaplon said the subpoenas instructed the guild’s accountant to produce 30 months worth of financial records in two days.
Esther Silvey, a member of the 6,000-member union’s board of directors said she has challenged for 2 1/2 years what she called discrepancies in the union’s financial reports.
″The picket fund was instituted sometime at the beginning of this year. Approximately $88,000 was collected, but $88,000, for some strange reason, only earned $880 and some dollars worth of interest, which is very suspect in itself, during a six-month period,″ she said. ″The telephone bill for the cost of six telephones for a six-month period is only $11. All sorts of weird things.
″We don’t have an accurate accounting of those picket funds. We don’t know what happened to those funds,″ she said. Miss Silvey said she complained to the U.S. Labor Department, but had not contacted the FBI or the U.S. attorney’s office.