FORT LAUDERDALE- A federal grand jury has returned indictments against two former officials with 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, who is also known as Tianni Latrice Wade, of Lauderhill have been indicted on a total of 17 counts.
According to a press release from the U.S. Attorney’s Office, between March 2008 and August 2009 they are charged with conspiring to steal money, funds, property, and other assets from the union, theft of labor union assets, obstruction, mail fraud, lying to federal agents, and other offenses.
Payne and Brown are accused of fabricating documents to obtain union funds to cover official union business, which were actually diverted for their and others’ personal use. The indictment also alleges the two attempted to obstruct the grand jury investigation by lying to investigators, producing fabricated documents in response to subpoenas, withholding records and failing to produce other documents.
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 to his union president post in 2011.
The ILA local 1526 union provides services to cruise ships, ocean-going cargo freighters and the shipping industry at Port Everglades. Over the past several years federal agents have conducted raids on the union’s headquarters, located in the 500 block of Sistrunk Boulevard in northwest Fort Lauderdale.
During the course of the investigation a South Florida Times report detailed a federal judge’s order to jail union official Torrence Little for several days for failing to produce union records.
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.
His arrest came during a subsequent hearing at the federal courthouse in Fort Lauderdale, when 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 investigation is being conducted by the U.S. Department of Labor, Office of Labor Racketeering and Fraud, U.S. Attorney’s Office and FBI.
Officials have not indicated whether any other indictments are forthcoming, but 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.