The ex-president of the Am. Fed’n of Gov’t Employees Local 1812 in Washington, D.C., is scheduled to be sentenced Apr. 4 for felony misappropriation of union funds. Hope Butler, who headed the union local until June 2000, pled guilty Dec. 7 in to making false statements to federal agents. She and her sister-in-law, Nadine Crump Butler, were accused of embezzling union funds and then lying about it in reports to the Dep’t of Labor. Crump Butler pled guilty to a misdemeanor charge of fraud. The scam reportedly netted some $20,600. Local 1812 represents about employees for Voice of America and other Int’l Broadcasting Bureau positions. IBB is an independent federal agency that formerly operated as the broadcast portion of the U.S. Information Agency, which merged into the State Dep’t in 1999.
Charges against Butler and Crump Butler resulted from an internal audit and a request for an investigation by other union leaders. In a letter to the Washington Times, a high-ranking Local 1812 official said the case against Butler was merely the tip of the iceberg. The official, who asked that his name be withheld fearing reprisal, was one of the union leaders who had Butler’s union accounts audited.
“[W]e believe that she was involved in a much larger conspiracy to commit fraud, involving key members of our union’s district and national leadership,” the official said. “We also believe that Hope Butler was aided and abetted in her illegal activities by members of the International Broadcasting Bureau’s Office of Labor Relations and Office of Personnel, and that agency management interfered in the internal affairs of AFGE Local 1812.”
Federal prosecutors say they plan to pursue charges against other union members or IBB employees only if more evidence develops. “I’m not at liberty to discuss any other pending investigations,” said Channing Phillips, spokesman for the U.S. Atty.’s Office in Washington. “If new leads develop, we’ll certainly pursue them.”
Butler is accused of inducing union finance officers to sign blank checks, which she said would be used to pay Local 1812 expenses, at least 18 times in little more than a year. She then made out the checks to nonexistent expenses or to her sister-in-law, who used the business name “Crump & Associates” or “Nadine Crump” but performed no services for the union, according to prosecutors. In fact, the money was deposited in either Butler’s personal account or an account belonging to Crump, according to court documents. Butler was accused of repeating the list of fraudulent invoices in the union’s annual report to the Labor Department, which is a felony offense. [Wash. Times 3/26/02]