9/20/08

Union big pleads gulity to embezzlement

More Embezzlement stories: here

Local officials unable to cope with national union-dues embezzlement epidemic

A former local union official admitted Thursday in federal court to stealing from the organization, becoming the third official with that union to admit such acts in the past few years.

Jeanette McFarland, the former president of the Glass Molders and Plastic, Union Local 285, pleaded guilty to a single charge of embezzlement, admitting to stealing $7,604 from the union from June 2004 to May 2005, according to court documents. She will be sentenced in December.

The union represents workers from Fort Wayne Foundry.

This year, Fredrick W. Jones, the former union vice president, was sentenced to a year’s probation for stealing more than $10,000 of the union’s money from July 2004 to December 2004, according to court documents.

Randy Gould, international representative for the union, said the pair had wanted to start a dental fund for the union, but the idea was vetoed.

McFarland and Jones set up the account anyway and began making withdrawals from it, Gould said.

When Gould was able to figure out what was going on, he went to the appropriate government agencies and reported McFarland’s and Jones’ activities.

Much of the money taken was recovered through bonding and insurance, Gould said.

In 2004, another former union leader, Michael D. Updike, was sentenced to five years’ probation and ordered to pay more than $9,000 in restitution to the union and to an insurance company after he too admitted to embezzling assets from the organization, according to court documents.

The union has been taking steps to shore up its policies and procedures to prevent such crimes in the future, Gould said.

This weekend, along with an agent from the U.S. Department of Labor, Gould will meet with union members to talk about McFarland’s guilty plea and make sure everyone is up to speed about the new safeguards, he said.

(journalgazette.net)

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