California Boss Admits to $120,000 Embezzlement

Another ex-Int’l Ass’n of Bridge, Structural & Ornamental Iron Workers boss pled guilty Sept. 15 to stealing up to $120,000, admitting that he routinely used the union’s money to cover his and others’ personal expenses. Darrel E. Shelton, who resigned Sept. 14 as the union’s Cal.-based general organizer, agreed to cooperate with prosecutors in a probe into allegations of corruption in the Iron Workers hierarchy in Washington, D.C. and the D.C. police force.

Shelton’s illegal expenses included $3,995 for a Jan. 1997 golf outing in Palm Springs, Cal., attended by BSOIW president Jake West and several D.C. police officials. It reportedly included $1,000 for a dinner attended by West, his friends and several women. Reportedly, Larry D. Soulsby, then the D.C. police chief, was among those on the trip.

In Mar. 2000, Fred G. Summers, BSOIW’s executive director of organizing, pled guilty to stealing more than $50,000, including $2,300 stemming for the same Palm Springs golf outing. Last year, Michael J. Brennan, who once headed the Iron Workers Political Action League, pled guilty to charges involving the theft of $7,000 in union money.

Prosecutors began looking into West and other union bosses as part of a broader probe of police corruption. They initially focused on West because he was a frequent dining companion of Soulsby’s. But as time went by, the FBI and Dep’t of Labor devoted more time to the union.

Shelton also admitted spending funds for numerous dinners for West and West’s family and friends. Reportedly, Shelton had a deal with West to write “per J West” on union credit card receipts so accountants would not question West’s expenses. In exchange, Shelton reportedly could charge his own personal expenses.

Shelton pled guilty to one count of conspiracy, eight counts of embezzling union funds and one count of making a false entry in union records. He was indicted in Apr. 2000 on 69 charges. As part of his plea bargain, he promised to pay $80,000 in restitution. Under federal guidelines, Shelton could face up to 21 months in prison when he is sentenced by U.S. Dist. Judge Thomas F. Hogan. But prosecutors said they will seek a reduced term if Shelton’s cooperation proves valuable. [Wash. Post 9/16/00]