International Staffer Admits $350,000 Embezzlement

Kerry J. Tresselt, ex-bookkeeper for the Int’l Ass’n of Bridge, Structural, Ornamental & Reinforcing Iron Workers, admit Nov. 8 that she embezzled more than $350,000 from a union job-training fund, the Nat’l Ironworkers & Employers Apprenticeship & Journeyman Upgrading Fund, and attempted to cover it up. She pled guilty  in U.S. Dist. Court in Washington, D.C., to three counts of embezzlement from an employee benefit plan and one count of conspiring to make false statements. The Va. resident admitted to illegally issuing checks to herself and others while working for the training fund set up by BSORIW with contributions from contractors. She agreed to make restitution and assist prosecutors in a continuing criminal probe of BSORIW.

The Fund was established by certain Iron Worker contractors and BSORIW. The Fund was established to promote and advance the training of iron workers to insure that the iron working industry would be provided with qualified skilled iron worker craftsmen. Pursuant to collective bargaining agreements between contractors and local unions of BSORIW, the Fund receives contributions from iron worker contractors based on the amount of hours worked by eligible iron workers. From about 1985 to Apr. 2001, Tresselt worked as the  bookkeeper for the Fund. In that capacity, she was responsible for issuing checks drawn against the Fund’s accounts, recording payments in the Fund’s general ledger, and performing other bookkeeping responsibilities.

Through several different types of schemes, Tresselt stole more than $350,000 from the Fund from approximately Apr. 1998 through Apr. 2001. Tresselt stole more than $30,000 through, in effect, a “ghost” employee scheme and more than $270,000 by simply writing checks to herself on the Fund’s checking account. In addition, she stole more than $40,000 of funds obtained by the Fund in connection with a federal grant received from the U.S. Dep’t of Labor to train workers in Poland. Tresselt stole that money by submitting false and fraudulent claims for work which she did not perform. Finally, Tresselt created false and fraudulent  records to conceal and cover-up some of her thefts.

Tresselt is the sixth person from BSORIW to be charged in the probe launched by the FBI and Dep’t of Labor. Four other bosses have pled guilty to embezzlement or related charges. The fifth, ex-BSORIW boss Jake West, is awaiting trial. Under federal sentencing guidelines, Tresselt reportedly faces up to to 27 months in federal prison when she is sentenced by Chief U.S. Dist. Judge Thomas F. Hogan (D.D.C., Reagan). [USAO D.D.C. 11/08/01; Wash. Post 11/9/01]