A 48-year-old New York man faces up to five years in prison after being charged with embezzling more than $30,000 from a steelworkers union. The Chemung County resident could also be ordered to pay a $10,000 fine. The charges were announced by the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Western District of New York on Oct. 30. The man’s alleged activities were discovered during an investigation conducted by the Major Crimes Task Force of the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s Rochester field office.
Prosecutors say the man embezzled $33,224 while working as the financial secretary of Steelworkers Local Union 104M between September 2015 and August 2018. The union represents about 75 steelworkers at an Elmira glass packaging facility. The man’s duties are said to have included collecting union dues, handling disbursements and writing checks. A local bank sent all union-related correspondence to a P.O. box. Prosecutors say that the man managed to conceal his alleged behavior because he was the only person with access to the box.
The man is accused of using a union debit card to cover more than $14,000 in personal expenses. The money is alleged to have been spent to pay the man’s cellphone charges and cover restaurant, hotel and shopping bills. He is also accused of using the debit card to withdraw $16,940 in cash from the union checking account and writing unauthorized checks to himself that totaled $1,445. He has also been charged with falsifying union records.
Criminal defense attorneys with experience in cases involving white-collar crimes may seek to negotiate a plea agreement when presented with a set of facts like this. This is because the evidence in embezzlement and fraud cases often consists of documents and financial transaction records that speak for themselves. Federal prosecutors are under great pressure to prevail, and they may be willing to make significant sentencing concessions in return for a guilty plea even when their cases seem strong.