FORT LAUDERDALE-A federal grand jury has returned indictments against two former officials of the International Longshoremen’s Association (ILA) local union which is based in Fort Lauderdale. Former union president Darryl Brice “Mike D” Payne, 47, of Sunrise, and his 31-year-old former executive assistant Tianni Latrice Brown, also known as Tianni Latrice Wade, of Lauderhill, have been indicted on a total of 17 counts. Read The Indictment Here
Payne and Brown are accused of fabricating documents to obtain union funds purportedly to cover official union business but which were diverted for personal use by them and other unnamed persons.
The 53-page indictment also alleges that Payne hired Brown with the intention that she would fabricate documents to carry out the alleged scheme and that the two attempted to obstruct the federal grand jury investigation by lying to investigators, producing fabricated documents in response to subpoenas, withholding records and failing to produce other documents.
The investigation is being conducted by the U.S. Department of Labor’s Office of Labor Racketeering and Fraud and the U.S. Attorney’s Office.
Payne is known for his involvement in community and civic initiatives and is often seen in the company of government officials and local politicians. He was defeated for re-election in 2011.
The ILA local 1526 union provides services to cruise ships, ocean-going cargo freighters and the shipping industry a Port Everglades. An investigation into its activities began several years ago following complaints from members about alleged theft and financial misconduct.
A South Florida Times report detailed a federal judge’s order to jail the union’s financial secretary, Torrence Little, for several days for failing to produce union records. Little has not been cited in the indictment.
According to documents obtained by the South Florida Times, Little was required to appear before the grand jury and turn over minutes, recordings and notes taken of the union’s meetings.
During a subsequent hearing at the federal courthouse in Fort Lauderdale, U.S. District Court Judge William P. Dimitrouleas ordered him remanded into custody indefinitely for allegedly failing to comply with a subpoena to turn over union records.
The indictment against Payne and Brown details how certain union records were not being turned over to the grand jury, which led to federal agents raiding the union’s headquarters in the 500 block of Sistrunk Boulevard in northwest Fort Lauderdale.
“lt was part of the conspiracy that defendant Darryl Brice Payne and defendant Tianni Latrice Brown would conceal incriminating documents in their offices and files until August 19, 2009, when federal law enforcement agents executed a federal search warrant at lLA Local 1526 and seized documents and items pursuant to the search warrant,” a section of the indictment states.
Included in the documents that were seized during that raid are receipts and travel invoices that allegedly were altered to conceal that Brown had traveled with the union leadership to numerous conventions and events around the country.
Also seized were invoices and emails that show Payne allegedly billed the union for personal items. Those included sports memorabilia he won at a silent auction at the 2008 Sistrunk Historical Festival Gala.
“On or about March 15, 2008, defendant Darryl Brice Payne printed and kept at lLA Local 1526 an e-mail dated February 29, 2008 from an official of the Sistrunk Historical Festival, lnc., (“SHF’’) stating that defendant Darryl Brice Payne owed SHF $380.00 for three items; an autographed Miami Heat basketball, a football autographed by a professional football player, and a spa certificate that he had purchased at the SHF silent auction, that had been held on or about February 2, 2008 at a gala banquet at the Broward County Convention Center in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, and that ILA Local 1526 owed SHF $1,640.00 for two gala tables at $750.00 each and two parade moving vehicles at $70.00 each,” the indictment states.
Payne and Brown made initial appearances before U.S. Magistrate Judge Lurana S. Snow on Friday, when their bonds were set at $100,000 and $50,000, respectively.
Payne is being represented by Fort Lauderdale criminal defense attorney Bruce Zimet. Brown was assigned a federal public defender, Chantel Doakes, to represent her.
Assistant U.S. Attorney William Shockley is the prosecuting attorney on the cases; the arraignments are set for Feb. 26.
Federal officials have not indicated whether any other indictments are forthcoming. If convicted on all counts, Payne and Brown face maximum sentences of up to 20 years in federal prison.
*Pictured above are Darryl Payne, left, and Tianni Brown, right. Below is Torrence Little.