EXCLUSIVE: IATSE Cinematographers Guild Local 600 says it has found more evidence of malfeasance by its former secretary-treasurer Alan Gitlin, accusing him of misappropriating some $26,000 worth of hotel rewards points that rightfully belonged to the union. This comes on top of the $3,301 in credit card points and computer equipment the union had previously accused him of absconding with. Altogether, the union says he stole nearly $30,000, though no criminal charges have been filed.
In documents filed with the Department of Labor, the union says that after Gitlin was defeated for re-election last year, it discovered that “he had kept hotel rewards points generated by Local 600’s contracts with hotels at which Local 600 would conduct its meetings. Local 600 demanded that those points be transferred back to Local 600. Mr. Gitlin has refused to do so.”
Gitlin could not be reached for comment.
At the time of the DOL filing in March, the local said it didn’t know the true value of those rewards points because the five hotels refused to turn over their records, going back to 2011, because the accounts had been in Gitlin’s name.
Since then, however, the local subpoenaed the hotels’ records and found the theft to be roughly $26,000. “We issued subpoenas to the hotel reward companies demanding documents describing Gitlin’s points earned and used,” Local 600 attorney David Adelstein said in a recent email to the local’s national executive officers and trustees. “All five companies responded, although two – Hilton and Hyatt – could not produce documents prior to 2011 because the data no longer exists in print or electronic format. We analyzed the documents, focusing on points Gitlin used for hotel stays which we cannot associate with any official union business. Gitlin has not cooperated with this effort, so our ‘business use’ determination is based on assumptions drawn from Local 600 records and the hotel locations. We estimate the value of those misappropriated points, along with points unused at the time he left office, at approximately $26,000.”
In an affidavit of internal union charges, Local 600 president Steven Poster and secretary-treasurer Edward Avila, who defeated Gitlin in his re-election bid last year, said that during his term of office, Gitlin had maintained personal hotel program reward accounts and “caused the points generated by Local 600’s business with the hotels to be credited to his personal hotel reward accounts, rather than be credited to reward accounts held in the name of Local 600. The points credited to his personal accounts arose out of official Local 600 business with these hotels, including but not limited to room and event charges associated with Local 600 national executive board meetings, IATSE general executive board meetings, and IATSE conventions.”
The guild filed a lawsuit against Gitlin in March, claiming that he refused to return $3,301 in credit card points and equipment he allegedly took after leaving office. He was kicked off the local’s national executive board after he bounced two checks to cover the debt. The suit also asked the court to order Gitlin to pay the $7,500 fine the union levied against him after he was found guilty by a union trial board.
The local, however, since has dismissed the suit. “We filed a complaint against Gitlin in March 2017 seeking to recover union assets,” Adelstein said in his email to the union’s leaders. “We used subpoenas to recover documents that would evidence the amount of hotel reward points and AMEX points he had improperly used. Gitlin did not file an answer, so his default was entered. We received documents from all the hotel reward companies (missing pre-2011 Hilton and Hyatt) but not any AMEX documents. We decided the lawsuit was not the best means for Local 600 to recover the hotel reward points Gitlin had misappropriated. We would have to ‘prove up’ our damages to the court even if Gitlin did not defend himself. Calculating the value of those points requires assumptions and estimates that the court would not approve. Our $26,000 calculation should be convincing to a Local 600 trial board, but would not have convinced a court applying strict evidentiary rules. Accordingly, we dismissed our lawsuit, with the right to refile the complaint if necessary.”