Ohio Boss Accused of Taking $145,000

In Dec. 2000, ex-treasurer of Int’l Ass’n of Fire Fighters Local 639, Richard Adams, resigned suddenly when the local’s bank accounts came up some $143,000 short. He then paid $65,000 in partial restitution for funds he allegedly embezzled from the Parma, Ohio based local since 1987.  Then on Jan. 17, Adams was charged with one count of federal bank fraud. The U.S. Atty.’s Office in Cleveland said Adams once made a $3,139 house payment with a union check. But, according to the Dep’t of Labor, the union embezzlement totaled $144,939.46 and final restitution will be based on that amount. Because of a loophole in federal labor labor, a federal union embezzlement charge could not be brought since Local 639 is a public sector union.

Despite the local’s request that the matter be resolved internally, Parma Law Director Tim Dobeck called in the FBI and DOL to investigate in Feb. 2001. Dobeck’s move disappointed Cliff Taylor, then Local 639 president. Taylor said at the time that the local wanted to handle the matter internally because “our objective was to get the money and we’re recouping most of it.” Taylor has since resigned.

Dobeck said Parma detectives learned of the possible theft from fire dep’t informants. Several members  were alerted to the missing funds upon noticing in an IAFF publication that Local 639 was behind in its dues to IAFF even though members were current. Dobeck said Parma detectives said they will continue to investigate if present or former bosses broke any laws by attempting to conceal missing funds. Reportedly, the local failed to file required state financial reports. [Plain Dealer (Cleveland) 1/18/02; DOL 1/17/02]