New CODE President speaks exclusively with FOX19

Don Stiens
Don Stiens

CINCINNATI, OH (FOX19) - The new President of the Cincinnati Organized and Dedicated Employees Union (CODE) spoke exclusively with FOX19.

Don Stiens is replacing Diana Frey as union president. Frey was indicted last week on one count of wire fraud for taking $757,000 from the organization.

"It's almost inconceivable she could have done this on her own," said Stiens. "I'm not gonna start pointing fingers."

Union members voted Tuesday night, to remove Frey and replace her Steins, a traffic engineer and lawyer.

CODE has already filed a civil suit against Diana Frey. They're going after some properties she owns, trying to recoup some of that lost money.

Stiens said the law will handle Diana Frey. Right now, he said his focus is on restoring trust among his membership.

Former U.S. Navy Lieutenant Commander Don Stiens has his hands full.

"I'm not gonna be that person who abuses the privilege of the office," Stiens said.

A few years ago, when the pension system began falling apart, Stiens began asking questions.

"What are we going to do about it?," Stiens said he asked of Frey. "As an attorney, I have my own legal theories. I saw issues, I saw conflicts of interest."

He went to Frey, and she told him she would take care of it.

"And then I pressed the issue, once I raised that issue, she shut up, her emails stopped," Stiens said. "People who started asking questions, but then they just let them die."

Stiens said he was never afraid of Frey.

"I believe she intimidated people, that's what people say, she had a reputation for being very strong," he said.

Stiens says he has no idea where Frey is. She is scheduled to be in court on Thursday.

Stiens said they formed new committees at their meeting Tuesday night.

"There will be solid reform," he said.

Transparency is their goal.

"The 'i's' are being dotted," he said. "The 't's' are being crossed."

So nothing can just slip by anyone.

"We will be putting in the bylaws, a requirement for a yearly audit," he said.

Two signatures will also be required on every check written from the CODE account, so money cannot disappear.

"We know of some things (properties) that she has out there that she may think are hidden, and we'll go after those," he said.

Stiens also said one of CODE's biggest failures was, that no one on their committees got involved, so that everything was centralized around Diana Frey.

The focus will again be on her, as she makes her first appearance in Federal Court Thursday.

Stiens said he and many others plan to be there, to see her before the Court as Frey has virtually disappeared since her indictment.

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