One of the three former Senior union leaders facing a more than $6 million lawsuit brought by OPSEU say the lawsuit makes “outrageous and baseless” allegations against them despite their more than 14 years of service.
In his defense statement, filed in the Ontario Superior Court of Justice, former financial services administrator Maurice Gabay said he was a “loyal and hard-working employee during his approximately 14.5 years of service with OPSEU,” the United States Employees Union. of the Ontario Public Service.
“Gabay had a clean disciplinary record, and was never made aware of any OPSEU concerns or allegations against him” until the lawsuit was filed and “long after his employment was terminated without cause,” his defense statement states.
The OPSEU lawsuit, filed in January, alleges that Gabay, longtime president Warren “Smokey” Thomas, and former first vice president/treasurer Eduardo Almeida withdrew a total of $670,000 in cash from a strike fund without explanation, received a “ significant compensation” in addition to their wages, and transferred union-bought cars to them and their family members.
In addition, “significant expenses” were charged to the union’s credit cards without receipts, the union’s claim statement says.
OPSEU seeks “recovery of illegally transferred funds and assets” in the amount of $1.75 million from Thomas, $3 million from Almeida, and $1 million from Gabay, as well as damages of $6 million for “breach of fiduciary duty, breach of contract, conspiracy”. , conversion, and/or unjust enrichment (minus amounts recovered),” the statement of claim says.
In its claim brief, the union says the financial irregularities came to light in a forensic audit.
None of the accusations have been proven in court.
Current OPSEU President JP Hornick assured members that despite the financial misconduct raised in the lawsuit, “our union remains strong and our finances stable.”
Gabay’s defense statement says that “it was longstanding practice at OPSEU to withdraw cash funds from the strike fund” and that all transactions were authorized by either Thomas or Almeida.
“Gabay denies making or authorizing inappropriate withdrawals and denies receiving amounts from the strike fund for his own benefit,” the defense statement says, and he also did not attempt to delay the forensic audit, as alleged.
He also says that his employment was terminated by OPSEU without cause.
“Gabay denies having committed any wrongdoing, including any serious wrongdoing, as alleged by OPSEU,” his defense statement states. “Gabay denies that it received payments, funds or compensation from OPSEU to which it was not entitled” and that “at all material times, it acted in accordance with the policies, procedures and / or practices established by Thomas and Almeida, and / or the instructions ” given by the couple.
Gabay has filed a countersuit, seeking $750,000 in damages given how OPSEU has treated him, making “outrageous and baseless accusations” against him and publicizing them, saying it was “designed to inflict, and did inflict, mental anguish.”
Earlier this month, Thomas filed his defense statement, saying the lawsuit launched by new union leaders he led for nearly 15 years was politically motivated and began after he appeared alongside Prime Minister Doug Ford in support of the measure. government to raise the minimum wage. salary.
The lawsuit “caps a long campaign by Mr. Thomas’s political rivals…to degrade him, destroy him politically, and cause irreparable emotional and reputational damage to him and his associates. It has no basis in reality and is completely fabricated.”
Thomas has launched a counterclaim for $5.5 million.
OPSEU has launched a second $24 million lawsuit that includes more allegations against Almeida and Gabay in relation to at least 15 people or companies with which they had undisclosed ties, accusing them of payments for false or unfinished work, as well as bribery. .
Those accusations have also not been proven in court.
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