OPSEU suing Warren ‘Smokey’ Thomas, 2 other former execs for more than $6M in damages

Ethel Walsh

The Ontario Public Provider Staff Union is suing three previous executives for much more than $6 million, alleging the three enriched themselves unjustly working with the union’s income and property.

In a statement on the union’s website, OPSEU president J.P, Hornick said the lawsuit names former president Warren “Smokey” Thomas, former 1st vice-president/treasurer Eduardo Almeida and Maurice Gabay, former administrator of the union’s monetary expert services division. 

A assertion of claim was submitted on Monday in Ontario Outstanding Court. In it, the union claims it is trying to find to get better $5.75 million it alleges was unlawfully transferred to Thomas, Almeida and Gabay, as very well as over $6 million more in damages. 

The statement alleges Thomas and Almeida took action that prompted the union to:

  • Shell out by themselves “significant compensation to which they have been not entitled.”
  • Pay “considerable costs on their behalf for undocumented and non- enterprise related functions.”
  • Transfer union property, specifically vehicles, to by themselves or to family members.
  • Shell out money from the union’s strike fund to themselves and Gabay for “undocumented and illegitimate reasons.”
  • Enter into agreements that were “inappropriate, unreasonable and improvident” with the purpose of enriching them selves or other individuals at the union’s cost.

The allegations have not been tested in courtroom. CBC Toronto has so considerably been not able to achieve the three previous executives named in the accommodate.

OPSEU suggests it signifies 180,000 staff utilized by the Ontario authorities, local community faculties, the LCBO, overall health care sector and in community agencies in the broader public sector.

The assertion of declare notes that Thomas served as president for seven phrases about 15 several years,  while Almeida was very first vice-president/treasurer for five terms above 11 yrs. Thomas retired in April 2022, while Almeida resigned in July of the exact year.

As for Gabay, the assertion of claim notes he was the union’s accountant in its money expert services division from 2008 to 2015, then was promoted to administrator of its economical companies division right up until his posture was terminated in April 2022.

OPSEU says in the assertion of declare that the a few breached their duties to the union.

“They abused the electrical power and authority that the Union’s membership bestowed on them and violated the have confidence in that the Union’s membership put in them 12 months just after calendar year, election right after election,” it reads.

The union alleges the fiscal misconduct took the type of improper payment and payouts, incorrect expenses, transfer of cars, money withdrawals from its strike fund, “wholly inappropriate, unreasonable and improvident” settlement agreements that benefited Thomas and Almeida.

The union mentioned it seeks recovery of all of the cash and assets misappropriated by the three.

Eduardo Almeida, former first vice-president/treasurer of OPSEU, is pictured here.
Eduardo Almeida, previous 1st vice-president/treasurer of OPSEU, is pictured here. (OPSEU)

In accordance to the assertion of assert, Thomas received a salary of $142,740 and Almeida was paid $131,322 in 2021. In addition, the union suggests it realized that the two gained payouts for “lieu times,” made to compensate for doing work on the weekend or statutory vacations. The quantities totalled $399,472 for Thomas and $281,275 for Almeida from 2017 to 2022, totals to which they have been not entitled, in accordance to the union.

The union alleges that the three racked up “sizeable” costs on their company credit rating cards, which the union paid out on their behalf. From 2019 right up until they left in 2022, Thomas had charges totalling $136,015, Almeida had prices totalling $1,361,716, which include $15,500 in a income advance, and Gabay incurred costs totalling $176,556.

OPSEU’s assertion of claim alleges union dollars was employed to spend the household repairs and shifting expenditures for anyone with whom Gabay had a private relationship.

The statement also alleges that ownership of cars, registered to the union, have been transferred to them selves, family members members or acquaintances. In March 2022, right before Thomas remaining the union, OPSEU transferred ownership of a 2021 Jeep Grand Cherokee Overland, which the union experienced ordered in August 2021 for $97,417, to Thomas.

Previously, in July 2019, November 2017, and Might 2017, three other vehicles purchased by the union, a 2017 Dodge Grand Caravan, a 2015 Dodge Durango and a 2014 Chrysler 200 ended up all transferred to Thomas’s spouse, Valerie Thomas.

‘Sunlight is the most effective disinfectant,’ president states

In the web page statement, Hornick claimed the information is “troubling,” but “sunlight is the ideal disinfectant” and the union is pursuing lawful action to inform its users about existing issues going through the union. She called the lawsuit “just a first action.”

The statement of declare follows a forensic audit into the union’s funds immediately after a new board was elected in April, she mentioned. Hornick said she and the new first vice-president/ treasurer looked at the union’s latest economic place. That provided examining contracts, money statements and its publications. 

“Through that procedure, various fears came to light that necessary further 3rd-celebration scrutiny,” Hornick stated.

OPSEU president J.P. Hornick claims: ‘We will continue on to act and function collaboratively with the appropriate authorities. We will update you to the fullest extent we are capable as factors unfold.’ (CBC)

The union then employed a forensic auditor, a third bash who would glimpse at who may have been involved and how it impacted the union’s funds.

“This details has been crucial in encouraging us make the ideal choices about what measures to choose subsequent, and most importantly how we prevent this from ever happening once more. Wherever abnormalities have been found, they have been dealt with quickly,” she said.

“We will go on to act and work collaboratively with the appropriate authorities. We will update you to the fullest extent we are equipped as things unfold.”

Hornick added that the union’s money sources remain secure and it has the funds to continue to do its occupation of symbolizing members.and that OPSEU is fully commited to investigating its fiscal predicament.

“I want to be crystal clear to you, our personnel and members, and the persons of Ontario who we dutifully provide, that we will not waiver in our commitment to searching for justice in this make any difference, and we have the comprehensive guidance of the board to pursue all obtainable authorized avenues.”

Daniel Lublin, founding spouse of Whitten and Lublin Work Legal professionals in Toronto, reported the allegations audio “scandalous.”

But Lublin, who isn’t really symbolizing any of the functions in the scenario, cautioned that so significantly, only a single side of the story has been offered.

“They have to demonstrate the damages they’re trying to find in front of a courtroom. A choose has to acknowledge, initially of all, that the defendants broke some regulation or some obligations owed to the employer, and second, that the amounts the union statements are owed are in actuality the accurate quantity.”

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